Peanut Free Diet:
A Constant State Of Vigilance
A peanut free diet requires a constant state of vigilance in your life after the diagnosis of a peanut allergy.
The peanut is actually not a member of the nut family, it is a legume or from the bean family. But approximately 30-40% of the people showing adverse symptoms to the peanut will also be sensitive to the tree nut family of allergens like cashews, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts etc.. This is generally attributed to the high risk of cross-contamination in the manufacturing process, not necessarily the risk of an allergy to the nuts themselves.
Is There A Relationship Between The Peanut/Soy Allergy
Many parents tend to be overly-cautious since both peanuts and soy are from a legume. Their first instinct is if their child is allergic to soy, does this automatically mean they now must be on a peanut free diet also? This is not always true and avoidance of both can lead to serious health risks such as a potassium deficiency
. Never delete an entire food group
without verifying your child is susceptible. This can lead to very serious health and nutritional deficiencies.
Unfortunately testing is not always capable of determining if your child is sensitive to both peanuts and soy. A false positive reading can easily show up, because with current testing procedures, the results are showing a sensitivity to the legume family, not necessarily whether it is peanut or soy. Therefore it is imperative you and your child must work with a certified allergist to confirm all possible allergens you need to avoid.
Hidden Sources of Peanuts
Other than the obvious: peanut butter, peanut flour, candies or chocolates with peanuts etc., below is a list of other places peanuts do show up with great frequency. Remember though, cross-contamination is a very real problem with a peanut free diet because some people can actually have a severe allergic reaction just from inhaling the aroma of peanuts or even coming in contact with less than 1% of a peanut protein. Therefore you need to avoid the following:
- Artificial nuts- on any ingredient label signifies a peanut was used. The final result may look and taste different but a peanut was re-flavored with another tree nut oil(usually walnut or pecan) at some point in the manufacturing process.
- Arachis/Arachia oil- this is another name for peanut oil
- Most companies producing sunflower seeds also process peanuts on the same machinery. Check with the manufacturer first.
- Ice cream parlours, soda fountains or Asian and African restaurants use peanut oil/peanuts in their recipes.
- Food Additive: Lecithin 322 or natural and artificial flavors on the ingredient label can signify soy or peanut oil was used. Check with the manufacturer.
Due to the acute and often rapid onset of symptoms with a peanut allergy, it is often advised you have in your possession at all times a quick injectable dose of epinephrine, commonly known as an Epi-pen. Talk with your doctor about the advisability of you having a prescription for some of this emergency medication in case of a severe reaction.
So even though your peanut free diet will be a continuous struggle to confirm daily the absence of any peanuts within your vicinity, get in the habit of recruiting friends, family, co-workers, teachers, day-care providers... anyone you come in contact with on a daily basis to help you in your struggle. To date, possible help for the peanut allergy for a reduction of symptoms or limited control is in the final testing stages in the field of traditional chinese medicine. Soon, a possible method will be available to help control one of the most severe of the common allergens and one of the most deadly.
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This site is not intended to replace the advice and supervision of your professional medical treatment plan. Although all of the information is true and accurate to the best of our knowledge, we still recommend you carefully check all food labels before consuming any food product. We can not assume any legal responsibility for any illness obtained while following the advice contained on this site.