Diet and Nutrition

Decoding Dietary Allergies

So do you have a friend who feels sick after consuming dairy-based milk? Ever wondered why? Well, that is because of a dietary allergy towards lactose present in the dairy-based milk. But lactose intolerance is not the only dietary allergy. There are a number of these in the picture now. Let’s discover more about them.

What exactly is a dietary allergy and what are it’s causes?

A dietary allergy or a food allergy, as some people call it, is a condition in which a certain food triggers an abnormal immune response.

 This happens because your immune system wrongly identifies some of the proteins as being harmful. As a result, the body activates it’s defense mechanisms by releasing some chemicals. These chemicals are usually histamines which cause inflammation. For people with allergy, consumption, or exposure to even a small amount of that particular food can cause an allergic reaction.

The allergy may be something an individual is born with but they may be developed later in life as well. Some of the allergies are also inherited over generations.

Some of the common symptoms

The symptoms may take just a few minutes while some others take a few hours to show up. These symptoms are:

  • Swelling of the tongue, mouth or face
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Low blood pressure
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Hives
  • Itchy rash
  •  Anaphylaxis in severe cases

Symptoms like itchy rash, swelling of tongue and mouth, shortness of breath and lowered blood pressure show up rather quickly than others.

Common Dietary Allergies

An individual may be allergic to any of the foods. It depends upon their immune system and how they react to various nutrients. But there are 5 common food allergens. Let’s have a brief look at each of them.

Cow’s Milk

Dietary allergies: Cow's milk

It is especially common among infants and young children. It is most commonly developed when they are exposed to cow’s milk before they turn 6 months old.

Most of the kids with this allergy outgrow it by the age of three. Hence, it is less common in adults.

The reaction may occur within 5-30 minutes of consumption of cow’s milk. The common symptoms are rash, vomiting and hives.

If the breast-feeding mother has this allergy, she needs to remove cow’s milk and it’s products from her diet.


It is the second most common food allergy in children after cow’s milk. Most of the children with this allergy outgrow it by the age of 16 years.

Common symptoms of this allergy include hives, rash, stomach ache and shortness of breath.

Interestingly, some people are allergic to egg white and not egg yolk. This is because the allergic reaction is produced towards the egg white protein only.

About 70% of the people with allergy to egg can consume other foods that contain eggs without any allergic reaction.

Tree nut Allergy

It is the allergy to some of the nuts and seeds obtained from plants. Some of the nuts that produce the allergic reaction include almonds, cashews, macadamia nuts, pistachios, pine nuts and walnuts.

People with allergy to tree nuts also have allergic reactions towards their subsequent products like nut butters.

If a person is allergic to one of the tree nuts, he/she is likely to develop an allergy towards other tree nuts as well.


This is also a pretty common allergy. It is quite similar to the Tree nut allergy apart from the fact that peanut is a legume and not a tree nut.

People with peanut allergy are also likely to have Tree nut allergy.

Along with peanuts, an allergic reaction may also occur towards subsequent peanut products like peanut butter.

15-20% of the children with this allergy get over it by the teenage years.

The most common symptoms are rash and vomiting. This allergy can lead to severe issues if not addressed timely.


Dietary Allergies: Shellfish

A shellfish allergy is caused by your body attacking proteins from the crustacean and mollusk families of fish. These are commonly known as shellfish. Shrimp, prawns, crayfish, lobster, squid, scallops are some of the shellfish that trigger allergic reactions.

Symptoms for these allergies appear quickly and are similar to the symptoms of the cow’s milk allergy.

There may be a lot of contaminants in the fish which may lead to digestive problems like vomiting, stomach ache, and diarrhea. These symptoms are often misunderstood as Shellfish allergy.

These are some of the common food allergens. But these are the only ones. As mentioned earlier, a person can develop an allergy to any food depending upon their immune system.

To know more about managing the food allergies, visit the link below.

Written By,

Neha Kundu

Student, NIFTEM

Are you also curious to know whether food and mental health are truly related or not? Then go ahead and check out our article!

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Neha Kundu
Skilled at content writing and management and currently a Content Manager at Mindgrad(EMN), enthusiastic professional pursuing Btech in Food Technology and Management at NIFTEM

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