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Now, a variety of food proteins can cause food allergies, but the most common are known as the big eight, these include proteins within milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, seafood, shellfish, soy, and wheat.
Food is essential to life, and normally food doesn’t cause an allergic reaction - in fact, the process that allows for that is called oral tolerance.
Let’s see how that works. Normally, when food travels through the stomach and intestines, the proteins within them are broken down by gastric acid and proteases into tiny fragments, called oligopeptides - small strings of amino acids.
These oligopeptides reach the Peyer’s patches which are bits of tissue along the intestinal wall where M-cells live.
The protein fragments are presented by the M-cell using an MHC class II molecule, which is basically a serving platter for the helper T cells.
A food allergy is an immune system response to a food that the body mistakenly believes is harmful. When someone has a food allergy, the body's immune system produces antibodies called IgE (immunoglobulin E) in response to proteins in the food. These antibodies attach themselves to cells that line the respiratory tract, digestive tract, and skin.
When the person eats or inhales the food containing those proteins, the IgE antibodies trigger the release of histamine and other chemicals. These chemicals cause allergic symptoms such as wheezing, chest tightness, nausea, vomiting, cramps, diarrhea, itchy skin or throat, swelling of lips, tongue, and eyes, or anaphylaxis. Food allergies can be life-threatening, so it's essential to be aware of them and take steps to avoid exposure to the offending food.
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