Have Asthma? Avoid These 4 Foods

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Scientists from National Jewish Health, a Denver, CO hosptial that focuses on respiratory health, conducted a comprehensive study on food allergies. They looked at blood serum levels among children and adults to determine their sensitivity to some common foods. Among their findings, which were published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology in 2010, was that people diagnosed with asthma have a much higher risk of experiencing food allergies than their counterparts. Additionally, the more severe the asthma, the more likely the food allergy risk.

Which Comes First?

While the link between food allergies and asthma is clear, researchers weren't able to determine which comes first or whether a person was more prone to one condition than the other. And exactly what trigger food allergies and asthma varies from person to person.

Common Foods That Exacerbate Asthma

For this research effort, scientists focused their attention on four of the most common allergy triggers:

1. Shrimp. An allergy to shrimp and shellfish is a widespread concern that affects people of all ages. If you're highly sensitive to this allergen, even breathing in air near cooking shellfish can trigger a reaction to the protein released in the steam.

2. Peanuts. Peanut allergies have been on the rise in recent years, and children are at an increased risk for this problem. Avoiding peanut products can be challenging, since peanuts are used in many popular foods and dishes and their presence isn't always obvious. This ingredient can also be found in everything from salad dressings, puddings, sauces, and cookies to some vegetarian meat substitutes. Cross-contamination in the manufacturing process can even put you at risk for reacting to non-peanut products.

3. Milk. Milk allergies are much more common in children than in adults. However, if you do suffer from a milk allergy, you'll need to be on the lookout for hidden sources of this trigger, such as meats and canned tuna fish that have a milk protein as a binder, and restaurants that use butter to grill steaks. In addition, deli meats may be sliced using the same equipment. Therefore, be sure to read labels and ask lots of questions when shopping or eating out.

4. Eggs. Gelatin, yeast, and baking powder are viable egg substitutes for some recipes. But you'll also need to be on the lookout for hidden eggs sources. Some specialty drinks, baked goods, pastas, egg substitutes, and even pretzels can sometimes be made with eggs. Therefore, read labels before you eat. Also, keep in mind that the influenza vaccine often contains a small amount of egg protein, so you'll need to ask your doctor if this is safe for you to receive.

Managing Food Allergies and Asthma

Be sure to talk to your doctor about your food allergies and asthma. You may need to carry injectable epinephrine at all times, along with your inhaler and other asthma medications.

If you take the time and effort to protect yourself wherever you go, you can enjoy allergy-free meals without the unnecessary health risks.

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"Common Food Allergens." The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network. Foodallergies.org, n.d. Web. 24 Feb. 2011.

"Food Allergies: Just the Facts." American Academy of Family Physicians. Familydoctor.org, July 2010. Web. 24 Feb. 2011.

"Food Allergies Raise Risk of Asthma Attacks." National Jewish Health. Eureka Alerts, 4 Oct. 2010. Web, 23 Feb. 2011.