Over the last year, many of us have learned what happens when food supplies dwindle, and that you may have to get by with what little is available. For those with a food allergy, there are a number of foods that are off limits, even in a well-stocked grocery store. Scientists from the Crop Science Society of America hope their new research can help eliminate this problem.
What Are Food Allergies?
According to FARE, Food Allergy Research & Education, 32 million Americans have food allergies. While any food can cause an allergic reaction, there are eight that cause about 90% of all food allergies. They are: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish and crustacean shellfish.
The symptoms of a food allergy can range from mild to severe. While some may experience only a few hives, minor abdominal pain or an itchy mouth, all food allergies should be treated like they have the potential to be life threating.
Anaphylaxis is a serious allergic reaction that may involve difficulty breathing and/or a drop in blood pressure combined with skin symptoms and gastrointestinal issues. The only treatment for this type of reaction is the use of an epinephrine auto-injector.
Avoiding Your Food Allergy Triggers
The best treatment for a food allergy is avoidance. And the only way to know what to avoid is through an allergy test.
Unfortunately for those with an allergy to wheat or peanuts, this means losing out on healthy food options that are nutritional powerhouses. Wheat is a good source of energy and contains fiber and vitamins, while peanuts are a good source of protein and contain vitamins and minerals.
Cross-contamination or accidently being exposed to an allergen even when you are doing your best to avoid your triggers is common. Geography, culture and economic reasons also make it harder for many around the world to avoid peanuts and wheat, even if they are allergic.
Gluten & Peanut Research
Gluten is a type of protein found in wheat that causes an allergic reaction for those with Celiac disease and can contribute to symptoms in those that have a gluten sensitivity. Researchers from Clemson University are working on creating varieties of wheat that have a lower gluten content.
This process is complicated, as the DNA within the wheat cells contains the information needed to make gluten.
Like gluten, the information in a peanut used to create the peanut proteins that cause an allergic response is within the DNA.
The solution the team of scientists found was to test a number of crop varieties to find those that are naturally less allergic. They can then breed these varieties with those that provide high yields or have better pest resistance in order to develop a low- allergic crop that can be grown commercially.
The researchers are also experimenting with a technology called CRISPR to change the DNA of the crops, which has the potential to create a strain of wheat or peanuts that no longer has the gene to make the proteins that can trigger an allergic response.
The scientists are still working on this experiment, but they are very encouraged with their results so far. To learn more about identifying your food allergies or to schedule an appointment with an allergy expert, contact Carolina Pines ENT today.