Did you know that over 170 foods have been reported to cause food allergies? Or that up to 15 million Americans are affected by food allergies, including 1 in every 13 children? That’s a lot of people with allergies to a lot of foods. But why do people have food allergies, and what can they do about it?
Allergic reactions to food happen when your immune system’s antibodies mistakenly identify harmless food proteins as potential threats. Then, your body releases chemicals to fight these proteins as if they were viruses or bacteria. These chemicals are varied, but the most important one to know about is one called histamine.
Histamine causes the typical symptoms you’d recognize as an allergic reaction. By causing your blood vessels to expand, your skin gets red and inflamed. It creates itching and burning in your skin and nose, as well. Depending on the amount of histamine your body releases to address a particular food, the symptoms of an allergic reaction can range from less dangerous (a few itchy hives) to very dangerous, such as anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis can cause a whole lot of symptoms to happen at once, most importantly the swelling and tightening of airways causing difficulty breathing.
So, what can you do about a food allergy, if you’re one of the millions of people who have one?
Your best course of action would be to avoid the food you’re allergic to. If you’re not sure what you’re allergic to, your doctor can help you find an allergist, who will guide you through the diagnosis process. This may include blood tests or skin prick tests, which will give you reliable results about your allergies. The most common food allergies are nuts, fish, gluten, dairy, soy and eggs. A lot of these foods are present in the things most of us eat every day!
Unfortunately, there is currently no “cure” for food allergies.
While many clinical trials have been conducted into methods for preventing allergic reactions (some with promising results), none have yet been approved for public use. Therefore, it’s best to avoid the foods you’re allergic to. Sometimes this means even avoiding using utensils or surfaces that have touched the food. For some people with severe allergies, even being in the same room as a food allergen can cause a reaction!
But luckily, there are tons of options for people with food allergies these days. Recipes and alternative options abound for all sorts of dietary needs and restrictions. Many restaurants will work to accommodate food allergies, as well.
If you’re looking for a hypoallergenic recipe that you can make at home that’s also delicious, check out this one below from Heal with Food! This recipe is made of zucchini noodles instead of noodles made with gluten, and the creamy sauce is made with avocados instead of dairy or soy. There’s also no eggs, fish, or other common allergen, which makes it a safe and tasty option for someone with food allergies.
This Mediterranean-inspired recipe pairs zucchini noodles, or zoodles, with mashed avocado, garlic and Mediterranean herbs to create a creamy noodle-like dish that's full of flavor, antioxidants and essential fatty acids. Zoodles are made of zucchini cut into thin, noodle-like strips. Naturally gluten-free, these imitation noodles make a great alternative to pasta for people who react adversely to grains.
- 1 clove garlic
- Handful of fresh basil and oregano
- 1 organic avocado
- 1 organic zucchini
- 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup water
- Salt, to taste
- Peel and chop the garlic, then set it aside.
- Rinse and chop the herbs and set them aside.
- Peel the avocado and remove the pit. Place the peeled and pitted avocado in a small bowl and mash thoroughly with a fork. Set aside.
- Wash the zucchini under cold running water, and cut it into long, thin noodle-shaped slices (zoodles) using a vegetable spiralizer, julienne slicer or even just a handy knife! Set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a skillet and sauté the chopped garlic over medium heat for 1 minute. Add the zoodles and continue to sauté for another minute or two, stirring frequently.
- Add the water and continue cooking for 4 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove the skillet from the heat, and let it cool slightly. Stir in the avocado, chopped herbs and salt, and serve immediately.