Are you one of the 15 million Americans living with food allergies? I am. You'd be a good company. CDC reports out 15 million individuals in the US living with food allergies. Can you find the same number for food sensitivities or food intolerances? No, actually you can't. You can find research that makes some inferences, but not a solid number like CDC has for food allergies.
Food allergies are kind of the worst case scenario of food reactions, right? Because they can be life-threatening. That's why individuals with food allergies carry epi pens, they do their best - they're very vigilant - about avoiding a specific food item that they know they react to. When it comes to food reactions, it's really important to know if you have a true food allergy. And if you need to be carrying an EpiPen. Or how strict do you need to be avoiding a particular food item. And if it's something that in the future is going to evolve and potentially surprise you. This is not the kind of surprise that any of us want!
So to find out about food allergies, I strongly recommend if you're having any kind of reactions to food, even if they seem kind of minimal, go ahead and talk to your healthcare provider and consider doing IgE allergy testing.
The testing itself can be fairly straightforward or a little more interesting. Straightforward is they can simply send you to a lab, write an order, go to the lab, they'll draw your blood and send it off to a different lab. And do all of the work with the specimens and give you a report back.
The other typical way of doing allergy testing is to do all of the little, the little pricks, the little needle pricks. They call it a skin prick test. Usually up and down your arms and then on your back. I've had them done. It was a long time ago, but I've had them done.
The thing about allergy testing is it's kind of worst case scenario. So it's really good to understand your body and your situation. Understand the borders of your puzzle that you're trying to figure out with your food reactions. But then the other thing to keep in mind is just because you have a reaction to a food doesn't mean it's going to come up as an allergy.
You're not necessarily going to see it positive on that test. And that's one of the important things about any kind of testing that you do for food allergies or food sensitivities. You need to keep in mind that each test is answering a specific question. So if you get IgE testing done, that's specifically looking for, and answering the question of, do I have food allergies? Yes or no. It might give you all the answers you need, or you may be left with more questions after testing, which happens all the time, especially in this particular situation. So then from there, you can move on to doing other kinds of testing - and more next week on different kinds of testing - but you get to do different kinds of testing to fill in your puzzle and really figure out what's going on with you, uniquely.
If you do IgE testing - IgE testing, again, is allergy testing. Then anything that comes up positive are going to be the foods that are more likely, or you're at higher risk of having, an anaphylactic kind of reaction, or a more significant level reaction.
To give you an example, I have an IgE reaction to milk to dairy. I do not have anaphylactic reactions, but it is a true allergy. So I don't have to carry an epi pen, and I'm grateful for that. But I do have pretty significant reactions, especially if I eat the food frequently. And that's going to be the biggest point of knowing your allergies. Treating food allergies is twofold.
One is simply - simply, I say that but it's not simple at all. One is avoiding the food item that comes up positive on your test, if it comes up positive. And then the other is knowing what to do when you have a situation where you accidentally ingest it, or you're exposed to it in some particular way.
That particular response is going to be using an epi pen, using Benadryl, and being very vigilant in avoidance. And the biggest thing that you can do for avoidance, or not eating that particular food, is to learn how to read labels. Is it full-proof? Absolutely not because food manufacturers are not required to list everything. So it's not a hundred percent reliable, but it does put you more in control. So there's a lot of ways to empower yourself to live with food allergies once you figure out if that's a particular concern for you.
So a quick resource, if you need some help with reading labels here is the link for my free resource, The Quick Guide to Reading Food Labels. It'll get you started. I've expanded it now so it does include all of the top eight allergens. IT's not going to include every possible name for each one of them, but it's got a bunch of them. So it's a great place to get started.
And you know, if you have any questions, go ahead and throw them in the chat. I'll be more than happy to answer them or shoot me an email at email@example.com. Until next time, you take care of you.