What is a food allergy?

At the most basic level, a food allergy is an abnormal response to food.

The body’s immune system reacts to the food as though it were a threat. The most common type of immune reaction is when the body produces a specific type of antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE).

Immunoglobulin E

When IgE binds to the molecules in a food, an allergic response is triggered. The response varies in magnitude from very mild to severe. Anaphylaxis can cause death, so some reactions can be very serious.

If you have a food allergy, it is important to know what that allergy is as specifically as possible and what the possible reactions may be. Working closely with your healthcare provider or allergist will help answer these questions.

First exposure to allergen preps the body

The first time a person is exposed to the food, no symptoms will occur. But plenty is happening inside the body, preparing for the next exposure.

It is at this time that the body creates specific IgE antibodies to that allergen. They circulate throughout the body and attach to mast cells and basophils.

Mast cells are found in all body tissues, especially the nose, throat, lungs, skin and gastrointestinal tract. Basophils are in the blood and also in tissues that become inflamed during an allergic response.

Second exposure triggers reaction

During the second exposure, the body is ready. The food allergens bind to the IgE antibodies spread throughout the body. The binding then signals the release of massive amounts of histamine.

There will be various symptoms depending on where the histamines are released and in what quantity.

An allergic response can happen in minutes or hours. It can come from ingesting, inhaling or even absorbing the allergen through the skin.

Source: NIAID

More Articles

You might have wondered if small amounts of an ingredient can be added to a food product without being declared on the food’s label. The FDA...

Is it possible to eat your way to a food allergy cure? Scientists think it’s...

There are many reasons why you may want to substitute almond flour for wheat flour in recipes. Of course, if you have a...

Not all oils are created equal. Some oils are high in saturated fats or in trans-fatty acids – not good for general health. Some are partially...

It may never be safe to begin feeding peanut butter to your baby or toddler if you have peanut allergies in your family. If either parent or one...

More Articles

More Articles

What is a peanut allergy? It is a reaction that occurs in the body after eating peanuts or peanut...

For those with severe food allergies, flying can be a stressful process. Here are...

Approximately one out of 13 children under age 18 are allergic to at least one food, though many of them will outgrow their allergy by the age of...

Fact 1: Over a third of food allergy reactions happen after the first known oral...

The reason why some people are affected by allergies while others are not begins in their genes. Allergies are passed down from generation to...

Here’s a tip that might someday save your life, or that of a loved one: two to four times a year, review the proper way to use your epinephrine...

Lactose intolerance is the inability to process lactose, a sugar found in milk, caused by the lack of a needed enzyme. Those with lactose...

Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA)

An important part of peanut allergy awareness was enacted on January 1, 2006...

Tomato allergies are very rare. They are a "type 1 allergy," which means a contact allergy. When a person with this type of allergy touches a...

Milk allergies are becoming more common, especially in babies and small children. There is some confusion about what is an allergic reaction and...

Recognizing food allergy in babies or toddlers is not always easy, but there are specific risk factors and signs that parents and other caregivers...

Burlap bags are often used to store and ship coffee beans, potatoes, rice, seeds, nuts, and peanuts. They can be one of the disguised...

People with pollen allergies need to stay away from some foods. If you have allergic rhinitis in the spring or fall, you may not realize that you...

Of course, everyone knows that if you have a peanut allergy that you should avoid peanuts, peanut butter, peanut butter cookies and foods that...

Eating at a nut-free lunch table in school is a safety precaution that causes some students to feel isolated from their peers. Unfortunately,...