The 'Big 8 Foods' that account for 90% of Food Allergies

More than 170 foods have been reported to cause allergic reactions, but eight major food allergens, also known as the Big 8, are responsible for most of the serious food allergy reactions in the U.S., according to Food Allergy Research & Education.

The Big 8 list is comprised of milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybean. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Food Allergy Research and Resource Program (FARRP) indicated these foods account for about 90% of all food allergies in the U.S., so it’s important to get a better understanding of these allergens and properly identify them on food labels.

A graphic showing the top 8 food allergen groups

This rise in food allergies over the last 30 years is also likely to be effected by the growth in use of pesticides such as glyphosate on crops which effects the gut lining, industrial contaminants such as mercury in seafood, the use of these big 8 in many highly processed foods, overuse of antibiotics & genetic modification of foods could also be attributable to the rise in allergies.

Some of these Big 8 are used as excipients in vaccines acting as preservatives, stabilizers or adjuvants. For example, excipients such as gelatine, ovalbumin from egg, chicken proteins or cow's milk proteins can be found in vaccines such as mumps, measles, rubella (MMR) vaccine, influenza vaccine, rabies vaccine and have been described to be responsible for allergic reactions.

Finally chemical and environmental toxins such as herbicides, pesticides, mercury, lead and microplastics in water could also be linked to their allergenic potential. When consuming any of The Big 8 it is important to have a high quality source of these buying organic and local as possible and thoroughly washing or soaking them.

If you are unsure of whether a certain food is causing skin problems, stop consuming that food and record doing so. Eliminate the food for at least 2 weeks and see if your condition improves. If it does, you might be sensitive to that food. If it does not, you can try reintroducing the food to check for recurrence of symptoms. Make sure to test only one suspected food at a time. You can also have a blood test performed.

Remember, there is a difference between a food allergy and intolerance. An allergy involves an immune response where your body produces antibodies. The reaction is far more immediate than an intolerance and the symptoms are more severe for example leading to difficulty breathing, rashes or even anaphylaxis. This can be tested with a blood test. Intolerances are more dose dependant and the symptoms are often delayed making it more difficult to pinpoint. Keep a food diary of everything you eat so you can track the patterns.

We developed The Hypoallergenic Diet which initially limits the Top 8 food allergens as well as those high in natural chemicals such as amines, salicylates, glutamate, lectins & phytates to give the gut a chance to heal. Slowly we add things back in. A porous or leaky gut caused by the modern diet means undigested food particles can more easily enter the bloodstream causing an overactive immune response. See our website for more information.

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