Why Are So Many People Allergic To Food?


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What do we have here oh no no those are cashews. So is this like a bowl full of
death to you? Yes, well cashews aren’t as strong of a reaction for me but I am
allergic to tree nuts. It’s not fun, it’s not fun at all. Hey smart people, Joe here.
I recently invited my friend wheezy waiter to come by and talk about food
allergies. Just one, they’re not real cashews, they’re stunt cashews. Of course
you should never trick a friend with the food that they’re allergic to, but it’s
okay wheezy waiter and I are friends, and I’m
a doctor. These days most of us know someone with a food allergy, some food
they have to avoid eating, or even coming into contact with in order to avoid a
dangerous reaction or even death. But why are people allergic to food? And why are
food allergies on the rise? It’s nuts. Maybe I’m just getting old but
it seems like food allergies are more common than they used to be. Well we’re
not imagining things, scientific data backs that up. The
percentage of children with food allergy has definitely increased in recent years.
I’m allergic to all tree nuts so I’m allergic to walnuts, pine nuts, almonds,
cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pistachios – here in Texas – pecans
everywhere. Not pecans no pecans I always say pecans, but you’ve taught me it’s
pecans. Yeah I play the right way yeah. That stuff ends up in a lot of different
foods, so I imagine you have to have accidentally encountered this stuff before.
I have accidentally encountered almost all those that I listed. What happens is my mouth swells up, my throat swells up, I get hives, I get hives
in my lungs, I can’t breathe, horrible stomachache, and it lasts for
three hours. But I don’t think about reading labels and that’s a whole
difference about how we navigate the world as things that I don’t have to
think about and you do. And especially now it seems like the nuts are cropping
up in everything like barbecue sauce or cocktails, like drinks now like to have
walnut bitters in them. To make matters even more confusing, adults can also
become allergic to foods that they never had issues with as children. I’m Emily
Graslie I am the host and creator of the YouTube
channel The Brain Scoop and I work for the Field Museum as their Chief
Curiosity Correspondent. So I saw on Twitter recently that you aren’t getting
along with certain kinds of nuts very well anymore. Yeah I’ve never had a
problem really with any sort of food you know, but otherwise never have had
any sort of allergy whatsoever then a weird thing happened. Why don’t we try
almond milk for the first time? I never tried it. The next morning just routine
morning on my way to work I had my bowl of cereal, poured the almond milk on it
and I got to work and I noticed that my nose was just dripping like a
faucet, and I realized I was hot and itchy, and I noticed that I was just
absolutely covered in full-body hives. I just was like this is really weird.
Now a true food allergy is different from a food intolerance. This is really
important like if you’re lactose intolerant and you can’t digest cow’s
milk. It can make you feel really sick Aches, pains and digestive troubles, that
kind of stuff. But if you’re allergic to milk, it could kill you. A true allergy
is when your body’s immune system has a reaction to the food on a molecular
level. It’s your body treating food as a germ or an invader, which actually
doesn’t make sense. Let’s look at how this works. Food is made up of lots of
different molecular bits like the fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. We’re gonna
focus in on the proteins – everything we eat has proteins and they come in a
variety of shapes. Our bodies usually digest food proteins down to their most
basic units, but some food proteins don’t get completely broken down and they
escape into the body where they meet the immune system. Now it’s your immune system’s job to recognize protein shapes that come from dangerous invaders – viruses,
bacteria, things like that sneaking around your body. But peanut butter
should not cause this reaction. This makes no sense. Cobras, jellyfish, really big wasps. Maybe. But not deliciously roasted
legumes. Molecules called antibodies stick to the foreign food molecule
leading to the release of a chemical called histamine. Which makes you really
itchy, or if the reaction is bad enough, it can cause anaphylaxis – where the
entire body just goes haywire. From dizziness to swelling to your ability to
breathe. So I started looking up like can you just develop an almond allergy or a tree nut allergy as an adult – you can and I said
well what could cause it. The only unusual thing was this almond milk, so I
immediately made an appointment with an allergist. We needed to determine if
almonds had specifically caused this allergic reaction. So honestly we did
this food challenge and nothing happened. Nothing happened so you’re sitting there
now and you still have no idea what triggered this, what it really was, or
what you might meet again that could give you a problem. And it could be
nothing, it could be something else that I ate. Emily had an allergic reaction to
something. In cases like these even doctors can be stumped. In the meantime
he told me when I left the office that day that I needed to operate as though I
had a life-threatening tree nut allergy. So he prescribed me epinephrine and
I have an epinephrine injector that I have to carry with me everywhere. I
have to spend the next year carrying this around with me, and maybe have to use it on some mystery food that we don’t know. I keep coming
back to one basic question, why would our bodies bother to have such extreme
reactions? Reactions that could kill us after a handful of trail mix, or a glass
of milk. The truth is we don’t know why food allergies exist – there is a leading
theory and I should stress this is just a theory, that allergies might
exist thanks to parasites. The part of our immune system that recognizes
allergy causing food also reacts to certain wormy, buggy infections.
Humans are a lot cleaner than we used to be, back before hand sanitizer and indoor
plumbing, and you know, science. Today we don’t have as many parasites entering
our bodies, so maybe that bit of our immune system is just bored –
so it’s overreacting and attacking foreign-looking proteins in our food
instead. Our clean, sterile, no dirt eating lifestyles could be behind the rise in
allergies of all kinds. But that’s just a theory, a parasite… wait that’s not my catchphrase What am i doing? Peanut allergies are the most common food allergy, affecting nearly 1 in 40 kids in
the US. In all, we know of at least 400 proteins for more than a hundred and
seventy foods that cause allergic reactions with eight foods
accounting for 90% of those. Now a lot of people are allergic to shrimp and other
shellfish, and a lot of those people are also allergic to little bugs called dust
mites. Now shrimp shellfish and dust mites are all invertebrates and all of
them trigger allergies thanks to a protein called tropomyosin. Well they
share that protein and it’s very different from anything our bodies make.
This is an example of cross reactivity, like if you’re allergic to cashews you
might also be allergic to pistachios or mangos since they’re all in the same
plant family. I’m telling you evolution explains everything. So how can you avoid
food allergies for you or your kids? Well, just a decade or two ago doctors
recommended not giving young kids foods that commonly trigger allergies for at
least the first few years of their life. But that was actually the exact wrong
advice. Food allergy rates continued to rise, so doctors changed their
recommendations. Today’s advice suggests parents should slowly introduce common
allergic foods early, and in small amounts – and it seems like it’s working.
Food allergy rates have stopped rising at least. I mean we’re parents now mm-hmm
How does your having an allergy affect what you’re introducing your chile
– if it were up to me I probably would be incredibly more wimpy about it,
but my wife my wife is introducing all these things. She introduced all the all the nuts to her so far and she’s not allergic.
So yeah, and I got nervous every time. Which is fine.
If you already have a food allergy, unfortunately there’s no cure. We’re
developing treatments like getting the immune system accustomed to allergy
causing foods in small doses, there’s even a sticker that acts almost like a
nicotine patch for peanut allergy. But please remember always talk to a doctor
before you attempt any treatment. Sadly with food allergies there’s still more questions than there are answers. We know what’s causing them, we know a little bit about how to prevent them, but we don’t know why they
exist or how to cure them. It’s really stressful to not know what caused it
and to not have any reliable way of testing what caused it. You take for
granted when you don’t have a food allergy – you can go wherever you want
ready to eat anything and so you’re automatically your world like shrinks
quite a bit. Every restaurant you go to, every lunch that you eat, if you didn’t
prepare it yourself I’m wondering like is this gonna have something in it that
could kill me? And am I allergic to almonds? And if it’s not almonds then what is it?
Are people taking me seriously. That’s a big concern that people who have food
allergies. But, it can be life-threatening.
Is it frustrating that people can’t give you an answer about why this happened.
Yes, yes I would love a cure that would be great. Do you’ve a cure are you gonna introduce? A cure, well it’s called exposure therapy.
But every scientific question that we know the answer to today was once a
mystery just like this an answer barely out of reach, in the fog of not knowing
yet. Someday we’ll figure it out. Some nuts
are just tougher to crack than others. Stay curious.

100 thoughts on “Why Are So Many People Allergic To Food?

  1. A big thanks to Craig and Emily for sharing their allergy stories. Do you know anyone with a food allergy? Share this video with them! I'm on Twitter and Instagram at @DrJoeHanson

  2. I'm allergic to bananas but I didnt even know until I was like 16 bc they didnt cause a big issue. I just thought that they were tangy and bitey to everyone lol. Pepsi helps to soothe it tho. Idk lol

  3. It's just possessed food full with chemicals we can't tolerate most of the times. Tomatoes has so much chemicals. I get itchy when I eat it. Same goes with white flour and sugar.

  4. One of my high school friends is allergic to potatoes. I was at a BBQ at his Dad's house one time and his Dad made potato salad for us. I found it absolutely hilarious that his Dad, knowing full well his son was extremely allergic to potatoes, did it anyway. I dunno how that comes across to anyone else, but if you knew these people, you'd know. I laugh every time that situation comes across my mind. Ridiculous Dad trolling.

  5. My wife has no food allergies?!?(ish) she has a latex allergy which means pineapple avacodo kiwi mango bananas and other fruits and veggies contain naturally occurring latex so she ends up experiencing mild rashes some swelling and what not…..inconvenient but fortunately not life threatening

  6. A former friend of mine also had a nut allergy. He couldnt even eat strawberries but today everything is fine and he eats nuts without any consequences.

  7. I am allergic to cashews and pistachios, and celery. Celery? Yep, it's a cross contamination with ragweed, which I am also allergic to. Seriously, I can't even eat at restaurants anymore because I'm scared of having a deadly reaction to something.

  8. I’m allergic to peanuts. Only peanuts. Not tree nuts. I’ve had people tell me it “wasn’t possible” or just not believe me. No, I’m not allergic to tree nuts, and I’m still explaining this to people

  9. Its an odd thing. When i lived in a sunny european country with ocean beaches and sea food i had never had any allergies, i then moved out to central european country and now i basically have allergy to everything, no joke i cant even eat fruit its so dumb.

  10. Well I don't understand I have no current allergies to anything except seasonal allergies and I have those since I was a teenager I just didn't understand why I was so itchy in my throat and eyes so I don't know if all this sanitizing can apply to everyone🤔🤔

  11. 2 things I think before watching: people like to be "special" and may embrace/exaggerate their allergy Or the earth is trying to kill off more due to overpopulation

  12. Developed countries have a more complete set of food regulations that is design with food safety in mind. This means people who lived in these places don't get exposed to bugs/germs that would be normal in other places. That is why it is common to see migrants that end up developing allergies after staying for over 4 years. Myself included, I have hayfever which I didn't before. To minimize this getting worse, I would back to my old home country and just eat the local food/fruits. The body quickly learns and adapts. Yep! exposure does work.

  13. I have year-round allergies to many plants and trees in my DFW TX home. I'm also allergic to dust mites. This video clued me in to why I'm allergic to scallops. All-over hives, spending hours puking. Fortunately, I'm not allergic to shrimp, although I eat them infrequently. When I went to Hawai'i for a week as an adult, I ate fresh pineapple at almost every meal. By the end of the week I couldn't even touch the fresh fruit without itching, hives, and had a very sore mouth. Turns out I had become allergic to the enzyme in the fresh fruit that breaks down gelatin's ability to gel. After 40 years, I can eat a small amount of the fresh fruit occasionally.

    I hate to sound like an allergy fearmonger, but I wonder if our carefully overprotected children are becoming increasingly allergic due to lack of contact with a varied diet. And it's not out of the question that we might be allergic to chemicals that are sprayed on our foods during the growth of huge agribusiness crops. Just food for thought.

  14. I absolutely died when the proteins meet the immune system and the Patrick "weewoo weewoo" started playing.

  15. I have an immune system made of steel. No allergies. I haven't had a cold in 4 years and haven't had a flu for around 18 years.

  16. What about intolerances ? All my live I've been able to eat whatever I wanted to and then suddenly I wasn't able to digest 2/3 of fruits and veggies etc.

  17. I am allergic to cabbage and its derivatives – Cabbage, Cauliflower, Lettuce, etc etc…

    EDIT: I am intolerant to those things…

  18. There are so many additives to food these days; from preservatives to pesticides. Unless you eat organic you are taking these toxins in, and they build up. This could be another source of food allergies; the accumulation of genuine toxins.
    He is 100% incorrect about there being no cure for food allergies. This guy is obviously ignorant of alternative medicine. I know several people who got rid of severe food allergies using NATE acupuncture treatments. As for myself; I had no food allergies as a young adult. I got rear ended while waiting at a stop light when I was 59. A reaction I had to the trauma was to develop severe arthritis and I was paralysed by it for about 3 1/2 years. (Mainstream medicine also doesn't acknowledge that whiplash from automobile accidents can lead to chronic illnesses. The insurance company paid for my car repairs but refused to pay for my medical treatments.) I got an anti-inflammatory diet from a naturapath. The arthritis specialist told me verbatim "Diet will never work." He was also flat out wrong. Exactly as the naturapath predicted the inflammation went down in 8 weeks. I got off meds and began to exercise like mad. In the beginning doing anything was excruciatingly painful. Now, 6 years later, I am hiking again, and dancing again, and doing yoga again. The naturapathic diet is also known to actually cure some food allergies . . . . .

  19. da! plants sometimes contain substances that inhibit eating them . Sometimes they kill or sometimes cause reactions of discomfort.

  20. Our grown daughter is allergic to fresh fruits & veggies since she was 4. If she eats them cooked, it destroys the protein that she reacts to and she has no reaction. Her allergist said she has allergies to trees and by cross-sensitivity, is allergic to fresh fruits & veggies.

  21. I took my kids to a GP and when asked aboit family allergens we told them that no one in the household had an allergy… The GP looked at us as if we had no idea what we were talking about (I am a science teacher and my wife has a degree in biomedical science).
    Allergies are now so common that people are shocked that a family doesnt have one.
    By the way: we exposed our kids to a huge variety of food, like my parents did. May not have been a contributing factor, I just like varied foods.

  22. @06:27 Maybe perpetuating the misconception that "this is just a theory" means that all theories hold the same level of proof isn't a good idea for a science based show.

  23. I didn't have food allergies until a full blown adult. Now I'm pregnant and don't even know wth I can eat. Been eating spinach, sweet potatoes and rice for the last 1.5 weeks. 😞

  24. They might have put something besides almonds in the almond milk read the label carefully also some contamination might have got into it if that was what caused your reaction. Of course you might have encountered something else and not been aware of it.

  25. Some people are also allergic to pollens that blow in the air so you don't have to even eat anything to have an allergic reaction.

  26. Peanuts where my favorite food. All peanut products too. I ate them almost every day and I loved peanut butter sooo much.

    I slowly started getting more and more sick

    Im now deathly allergic to my favorite food 😐

  27. Thanks to you I finally realized that I'm not allergic to pecan. I'm just intolerant to them. Thanks you.

  28. My friends neck swells from the inside when she took children’s Advil she could not breathe she learned that the hard way.

  29. Is it possible to lose your allergy? When I was little my parents noticed I would get a reaction after I ate strawberries. Nearly 10 years later I’ve had my first strawberry in a long time and, no reaction. I want to know if it’s possible to lose your allergy or if I was never allergic to strawberries.

  30. Twice now when going in for an MRI or other tests an RN has tried to tell me shellfish allergy is to the iodine in seafood. Uhm, no it is not. It's a protein in the shellfish. Never just take anyone's word for your allergies. Your best bet is an allergist and your own sleuthing. I am allergic to all shellfish, most antibiotics, walnuts and guinea pigs. As a child I took antibiotics, raised guinea pigs and ate shrimp with no reaction. It all started at around 12 years of age with penicillin. My adult daughter and grandson both developed allergies to penicillin in the last two years. My son is allergic to dogs and 13 other known tree's and grasses.

  31. I had dust allergy does it means I'm not supposed to eat shrimp,
    Maybe that's the reason, I feel so off like an allergy attack after eating it.
    But I love shrimps 😟

  32. We dont know what causes it, becous our science dont touch on the subject of things that are suposed to help.

    Medicines, cleanliness.

    If you take a toxin to help you with an ailment and the ailment goes away, its fine. but its herasy to look att the sideeffects that that toxin introduces
    Yay i got rid of a cold, but why i suddenly at the same time got alergic to foods is of no inportance.

  33. I have had two allergic reactions in my life. The first time I was about 14 and broke out in horrible hives head to toe. We had been out of town visiting family staying at a hotel, we swam in the pool, I took a shower using the hotel soap, and ate chinese food. Within 30 minutes I was covered in hives. From my scalp to my toes. We still never figured out what caused it. The 2nd time I was in college and had hives from the belly button down to my thighs. Could never figure out what caused it. No new detergents and no new clothing. I have not had hives since and I am almost 29.

  34. Our immune systems getting "bored"? Could you think such silly statements through before stating them, or actually explain such inappropriate metaphors?

  35. Kids need to get out and get dirty among all the germs so they can develop immunites not live protected in a hygenic atmosphere where the immune system has little to do and can't develop naturally.

  36. Food allergies suck to the maximum. I'm allergic to shellfish, both the bug type and the clam type. Before I eat at a food service place, I read the menu. If they serve shellfish at all, I cannot eat there. I'm safe for the most part if I eat there and don't order what I am allergic to. However, if they serve something like popcorn shrimp or other deep-fried shellfish and they cook enough in that fryer oil, I can get a really horrible reaction if I eat anything deep-fried. Also, if a Chinese place serves the non-Chinese ingredient shrimp in their Chinese food, I can't eat there. They often use the same wok for one item to toss the next similar item. So I can get a shellfish reaction to my beef ramen because someone had a shrimp based ramen before me. Also, if I am eating something that has no way to get shellfished and sitting there… if someone at my table or at a nearby table has steam rising from shrimp, lobsters, scallops, crab, or clam chowder… the vaper makes all my sinuses explode into what feels like a bomb going off behind my face. Washing dishes at a place that serves shellfish is an issue too. Even my skin hates touching the liquid. Wash a clam chowder dish and I have a rash on my hands and wherever the bits I never notice touch me when washing the dish hits other places of exposed skin. I am limited in where I can eat, where I can work / jobs I can do, the people I can trust, the products that I use, the places I visit, etc. And that is just one f my allergies. Again, food allergies suck to the maximum. I have a small comfort from my strange immunities that I troll people with who troll me with my allergies.

  37. From the ingredients and substrates they use in vaccines … egg and nut in lots…read the ingredients. Name of vaccine plus monograph will give you the insert info…then search the ingredients for what the hell it is

  38. Enjoy your videos but please don't say "Just a theory…" (@6:26)
    You'll get the religious nutcases applying that to biological evolution in an attempt to discredit it. Use "hypothesis" instead if it's not well supported yet 🙂

  39. I've been living in China for 6 years and I haven't meet the first person allergic to peanuts or nuts in general.

  40. When I was at school— up to 1962 — there was only one girl in the whole school who had an allergy, to shellfish. She was also epileptic, so there were people keeping an eye on her all the time.

  41. I started to get allergic reactions from apples 4 years ago. Once it got so bad, I thought I'll die… It is really bad. I used to eat an apple a day (cause it keeps the doctor away…. not for me though)

  42. What if it has to do with the digestive system? I mean maybe these larger strands of protein are usually broken down by certain gut bacteria. Perhaps a lack of the right type of gut bacteria could cause some proteins to avoid being broken down.

  43. You non peanut eating people, are you willing to stop people you don't know from enjoying themselves lets say on a airplane just because you have an issue? That is my beef with this allergy thing. It's your problem, find a way for you to deal with it. I will not harm you but me eating peanuts is not your issue and you should leave me out of your solutions. Denying others normal food means you need to stay home or drive to your location or invent something. I have heard of people basically accusing other of harm because they got on a plane that served peanuts. Guilt tripping a plane load of peanut eaters is not a solution.

  44. https://healthyliving.azcentral.com/silk-almondmilk-ingredients-and-facts-12549002.html Almond milk is not just almonds and water stupid! Next time look up what you are shoving down your throat.

  45. YES THERE IS A CURE!!!!! When I was a child I was violently allergic to all dairy and eggs. My mother introduced small amounts of both into my diet. Now I am only allergic to cashews and pistachios. Scientists are so damn stupid.

  46. I have recently deveoped an allergic reaction to… something commonly found in chemical cheaning products. My doctor said i cant be tested because it could cause blindness. The best thing i can do is avoid using them and going natural with the cleaning

    Now im sat here wondering if whatever is in those products is also found in a food…

  47. He mentioned that some people could possibly be allergic to the tropomyosin protein in anthropods, but humans create this protein to use in our muscles? Anyone have an explanation?

  48. Riddle me this…. I always had asthma as a child. Then in 2012 I moved from Ohio to SC, where there is a lot more pollen and tree slime. How did my asthma just go away? Because I no longer take asthma medicine at all.

  49. When I was a kid I was allergic to sugar , now I'm 19 and I can eat sugar as much I want . Weird.
    And I'm intolerant to lactose . I can't have milk and curd 🤢

  50. I not only have food allergies, I am lactose, gluten and legume intolerant. I am allergic to anything that has molds or yeast, makes sense since I am allergic to penicillin. It killls me because I'm Italian so I can't eat pasta, cheese, bread, lentils, mushrooms. I've recently developed an allergy to eggs. I can't get pastured, organic eggs where I am or I'd try them.

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