More than 11 million Americans are estimated to have food allergies, which occur when the immune system reacts poorly to certain food. If you have an allergy, you know: Within minutes of eating the offending food, you may experience hives, swelling or have trouble breathing.
Less obvious and more common are food intolerances, which can be digestive issues that don't involve the immune system. Symptoms may include cramps, gas and bloating. Unlike with food allergies, you may be able to eat small amounts of problem foods.
Apples and applesauce
In addition to vitamin C, pectin (a soluble fiber), potassium and important phytochemicals, apples contain high amounts of quercetin, which can help reduce allergy symptoms, according to a study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. German researchers recently showed organically produced apples have a 15 percent higher antioxidant capacity than conventionally produced apples.
Try this: Lightly saute slices from one apple with one diced potato and onion.
Some people with allergies have trouble removing toxins through the liver and kidneys, said nutrition expert Bonnie Minsky. If the toxins back up into the body, it increases the chances of inflammation, which leaves an allergic person even more sensitive. Vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage greatly assist the process, she said.
Try this: Eat broccoli steamed and mixed with fresh garlic and olive oil.
Probably the least allergenic of the grains, quinoa's high protein content (12 percent to 18 percent) and balanced set of essential amino acids make it a complete source of protein, according to chef Lisa Williams (lisacooksallergenfree.com), who has allergies to wheat and dairy and sensitivities to sugar and gluten. Quinoa is a good source of dietary fiber, phosphorus, magnesium and iron.
Try this: Since breakfast is often problematic for people with allergies, try quinoa in the morning; add nuts and fruit if you can.
Food can be expensive when you're on a specialized diet, which makes relatively cheap lentils a superfood on all fronts. Lentils are loaded with iron, protein and folic acid. One cup has 16 grams of fiber -- six times more than a serving of Metamucil, Doherty said. They're also versatile and easy to store. If you're allergic to peanuts, you have a 5 percent chance of having an allergic reaction to other legumes such as lentils, according to allergy expert Dr. Lee Freund, author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Food Allergies."
Try this: Combine two cups of cooked lentils with two oranges cut into cubes and two chopped sweet peppers, suggests naturopathic doctor Michael Murray in "The Condensed Encyclopedia of Healing Food." Season with salt and your favorite herbs and spices.
Nutritious and rich in complex carbohydrates and fiber, sweet potatoes are a member of the morning glory family. They are brimming with carotenoids, vitamin C, potassium, fiber and vitamin B-6, which all contribute to reduced inflammation, Minsky said.
Try this: Make sweet potato fries by slicing and lightly coating with olive oil and your favorite spices. Bake until crispy (about 20 minutes) at 300 degrees.
10 Foods Allergy Sufferers Should Try
Eat wisely to reduce your allergy risk.
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