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Your Food Allergies

I've always been very suspicious of people who claim to have allergies, whether food or otherwise. When pressed, they often say they know they have allergies because "one time I ate X, and the next day I had Y reaction, and everything else I ate that day was something I eat all the time." I'm suspicious not just because such stories lack solid causative links, but also because I once claimed a bullshit allergy of which I was convinced at the time.

While doing yardwork as a kid of maybe seven years old, I once was cutting some elephant ear fronds and got some of the sap on my inner elbow, and the area turned red. I ran inside to wash it off, and then told my parents I couldn't cut elephant ear fronds anymore, because I'm allergic to the sap. I maintained this argument for maybe a year, and then decided voluntarily to cut those fronds the next year because the alternative was raking leaves, which I hated more. Naturally, some of the sap got on me again; no reaction. In retrospect, the most likely explanation for the original irritation was that a frond's jagged, freshly cut edge had scraped me as it deposited sap on my arm.

So... do you have any allergies? What about food allergies? Jeanette claims to be allergic to codeine without having been clinically diagnosed. Her sister, Betty, claims to be allergic to peanuts without having been clinically diagnosed. What do you think you're allergic to? Think about it. Okay. Got it in mind? Now check out this little fact I just read about:

"More than one-quarter of the population in seven countries in the European Union claims to suffer from food allergies or intolerances. ...[C]linical tests indicate that the incidence of such allergies is much lower than commonly believed (about 3.5% of the population)..." -- Herve This, Molecular Gastronomy: Exploring The Science Of Flavor

So... 86% of those who claim they have food allergies are wrong. How sure are you about your allergy now? Are you missing out on all sorts of delicious, peanutty goodness thanks to your own misdiagnosis? Are you avoiding oranges just because you caught a virus after eating them once? Wouldn't you rather feel guilty about eating ice cream because it makes your thighs fat than not eat ice cream at all?

It seems to me like it would be worth getting my allergies clinically tested. Or, if I'm one of the people claim to have a "mild allergy," it seems like it would be worth jumping into the deep end of the pool: Eat what you fear, and see how bad it really is. If you know it's not a serious enough reaction to cause permanent injury, and you don't have anything important going on that weekend, just eat it, and see what happens. There's an 86% chance that you'll experience no adverse effects.

Cross-posted at Barzelay.net.

Posted by Barzelay on 2008/02/19 @ 14:52 | Comments (4) | Food Politics and Culture


I'm allergic to Red Dye #34. I know b/c I broke out in hives once when I drank red soda at a Bar Mitvah in 1989.

Posted by: Shana at February 24, 2008 7:01 PM

Nice article!! I drank a green food drink one day, and got hives all over the next day. My doctor thinks it was the alge in the drink, but I am sure I've had it before and it didn't do that to me. I'm heading to an allergist to find out for sure, because it could have been any of 100 things! My sister claims an allergy to cherries, because when she was a kid, she ate one and then threw up. I always thought that was silly!

Posted by: Pam at January 7, 2009 6:04 AM

If you read one of the good allergy books out there (Food allergies for dummies is pretty good), they have a big discussion about all the different kinds of reactions there are to food and not all are allergic. (Such as lactose intolerance)

The food allergy epidemic is real and the number mainly affect young children so when you add the adult population the percentage drops. "Allergic disease is the 5th leading chronic disease in the U.S. among all ages, and the 3rd common chronic disease among children under 18 years old" "One in every 17 children under the age of 3 has food allergy."

So the statistics are worth taking note of especially if you have children.

But why would young children be getting so many food allergies? The recent "epidemic" of food allergies started about 5 years ago when the recommended vaccinations were increased substantially. "American children were being told by government health officials and pediatricians to get 48 doses of 14 vaccines by age six and 53-56 doses of 15 or 16 vaccines by age 12."

I thought it was odd that so many children in the UK were allergic to peanuts. I started searching on line and was shocked to find out that vaccines can have secret ingredients that do not have to appear on the package insert. (Search "trade secret medicine") And many kinds of food is used to manufacture vaccines. Trace amounts of the food protein remains in the vaccine. (Search "patent vaccine peanut oil") I looked at statistics from all over the world and the groups of people with the lowest vaccination rates also have the lowest incidence of asthma and food allergies.

Whether you want to believe what I am telling you or not, I would think that you would agree that doctors should know all the ingredients in a vaccine. Otherwise they could be unknowingly injectint a peanut-allergic child with a vaccine that uses peanut oil in the adjuvant.

Posted by: barb at January 28, 2009 11:00 AM

Barb is an allergy troll, possibly funded by some manufacturer of generic drugs. See her comment on the crosspost of this article here (posted about an hour ago, meaning she's been going all around the web for an hour pasting in pre-written comments about the contents of drugs on any tangentially-related web site.

Posted by: Barzelay at January 28, 2009 11:12 AM