Topic 1 Food Allergy Definition

Food allergy is a health condition in both adults and children, and can have serious, damaging, even life-threatening complications. Sicherer and Sampson (2010) define the food allergy as “an adverse immune response to foods” that may “vary by age, local diet, and many other factors”. They explain that an “allergy is considered to be due to an imbalance of the immune response to allergens” which are common foods that trigger a certain reaction to some people. Obaid et al. (2021) explain that the immune system, responsible to protect the body from dangerous or unknown elements (such as viruses and bacteria), can be triggered by allergens and respond in different ways (which we perceive as allergic reactions). Allergic people’s immune system, responsible for protecting the body from “harmful substances”, is more sensitive (U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2022a). Upon contact with or consumption of allergens, the body releases chemicals such as histamines to protect itself (ibid.). This process results an allergic reaction.

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According to the FDA (U.S. Food & Drug Administration), “more than 160 foods have been identified to cause food allergies in sensitive individuals” (Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, n.d.). Rich et al. (2019), report more than 170 foods that can be classified in 8 food groups. The most severe reactions to allergens appear to be caused by peanuts and tree nuts, and fatalities due to “delayed treatment with epinephrine, and occur more often in teenagers and young adults with asthma and a previously diagnosed food allergy” (Sicherer and Sampson, 2010). According to Dupont (2019), allergies occurring to infants and children usually disappear when they grow up. Rich et al. (2019) note that “peanut, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish allergies” are “often more persistent”, not outgrown, and “commonly co-occur with other atopic diseases, such as atopic dermatitis, asthma, and allergic rhinitis”.