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Peanut Allergy: A Unique Epidemic

May 5, 2008
Our generation is a privileged one for many reasons. We are living through seemingly profound and seismic changes, both environmental and socioeconomic. Yet, no where have we seen in recent human history such a unique and fast moving epidemic like the current break out of the peanut allergy. What is meant by this is not to belittle past epidemics, rather it is to point out how strange it is that this epidemic is centered around such a common food that had been relatively harmless for so long. The facts cannot be ignored: 1.5 million Americans suffer from a peanut allergy making it the most prevalent food allergy and out of those 100 people die every year. The question is not if there is an epidemic, rather what is the cause of it?

Peanut Allergy Causes

The first thing to know about any food allergy and especially an allergy to peanuts is that researchers do not know their cause. That being the case there have been some interesting theories put forth on why the incidents of allergic reactions to peanuts have increased exponentially. Some scientists believe that environmental factors are to blame and others see a connection between over exposure during pregnancy to peanuts. Possibly the most intriguing idea is that with globalization, increased possibilities of food interactions and combinations that were once impossible have begun to occur with unpredictable results.

What Foods to Stay Clear Of

Unfortunately for those with a peanut allergy, far too many products exist that have been infused with peanuts or things peanut derivatives. This is why those that suffer from a peanut allergy must be vigilant. On top of this many people can trigger their allergy merely by touching peanut products. This includes oils and creams that have just a hint of peanuts in them. Common foods to stay clear of include: peanut butter & peanut flour, ground or mixed nuts, cereals, granola, sunflower seeds, grain breads, energy bars, and salad dressing. This is not to say that all these foods are certain to contain peanut products, rather they merely have a higher percentage of peanut inclusion in their ingredients.

Peanut Allergy Prevention

Although it sounds strange to talk about preventing peanut allergies when it has already admitted above that their cause cannot actually be substantiated. Despite this being the case, there are some known ways to reduce development of this allergy in those that have an increased susceptibility. Of course to understand how his can work one has to have adopted the theory that over exposure to peanut products in the womb and through the mother's breast milk can increase the chances of developing an allergy to peanuts. Research indicates that those women who avoid ingesting peanut products during pregnancy and nursing severely reduce their babies chances to develop an allergy to peanuts.

No matter the reason for developing an allergy to peanuts, the truth remains clear and dangerous, yet preventable. Of course preventing an allergic reaction to peanuts does not mean that one will once again be able to eat peanuts and the products that include them, rather prevention just refers to making sure there are no allergic reaction at all. This takes vigilance and caution in making sure that consumption and use of peanut based products is ended. Only then can one be sure that allergic reactions are rare if not blotted out completely.
About the Author
David Mark writes for multiple websites hoping to share information that is helpful to humanity. More information on peanut allergy causes.
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