Rise of Food Intolerance and Allergies
Up to 20% of the world’s population suffers from some type of food intolerance, and there are 32 million people with one or multiple food allergies in the US. That’s a staggering number of people who struggle with discomfort after consuming food.
The widespread occurrence of food intolerances has affected the global market. It has caused a pricing increase in “allergy and intolerance-friendly” food products and made it difficult for affected individuals to afford them.
Increase in Adverse Food Reactions
Recently, there has been a substantial increase in adverse food reactions, with every U.S. state experiencing a drastic increase in food allergy prevalence. Maine and North Carolina saw an allergy increase of 391% and 332%, respectively, with other states following close behind.
There are 26 million adults that suffer from a food allergy or intolerance, and 50% of them developed at least one new food allergy during adulthood. This increase has significantly impacted public health and has increased the need for a greater understanding of these conditions and enhanced support systems for individuals affected.
Food Allergy vs. Food Intolerance
Food allergies and food intolerance are two distinct conditions with different causes and reactions in the body.
Food allergies are caused by the immune system and are triggered by specific proteins in certain foods. The immune response leads to various symptoms, including hives, itching, swelling, difficulty breathing, and even life-threatening anaphylaxis.
Food intolerance is defined as a difficulty digesting certain foods, and is often caused by enzyme deficiencies or sensitivities to certain food components. This can lead to gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating, stomach pain, diarrhea, or nausea. Food intolerance has been associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), mental health issues, and decreased health-related quality of life.
Impact on the Global Market
In 2022, the global food allergy and intolerance products market was estimated to be worth $27.2 billion, with the United States accounting for $8 billion of that. Market analysts predict that the market will continue its upward trend to reach a remarkable $48.3 billion by 2030. These numbers demonstrate the growing demand for products that cater to individuals with food allergies and intolerances.
While the market targeting food allergies and intolerances continues to expand, many Americans face financial constraints that limit their ability to purchase premium-priced items. However, managing food allergies and intolerances does not have to rely solely on specialized products and can be managed utilizing budget-friendly options.
Coping With Food Allergies
Currently, there is no cure for food allergies. The main methods of dealing with food allergies are to avoid the food that causes the reaction, to quickly recognize symptoms if exposure occurs, and to have an emergency action plan.
Affected individuals must avoid consumption and exposure to allergenic foods. To do so, they should carefully read ingredient lists and nutrition labels to ensure the absence of the food they are allergic to. To save money, they can prepare meals using simple, natural ingredients to reduce reliance on expensive specialized products. Additionally, they must avoid cross-contact with allergenic foods by informing restaurant staff, friends, and family members about their dietary restrictions to ensure their meals are allergen-free.
Individuals with food allergies should also have an emergency action plan in case of accidental exposure. The ability to quickly recognize the onset of symptoms and carry emergency medication such as epinephrine auto-injectors is crucial in case of accidental exposure or anaphylaxis.
Coping With Food Intolerances
While there is no cure for food intolerances, the first step toward coping is identifying the food or ingredient responsible for the discomfort. This is commonly achieved through elimination diets. These involve removing specific foods or ingredients from one’s diet to identify the source of the intolerance. Elimination diets are picked based on the symptoms one is experiencing and their daily diet. Some popular elimination diets include Low-FODMAP, Gluten-Free, Lactose-Free, Few Foods, and Specific Carbohydrate Diets.
Once the trigger is identified, individuals can modify their diet to avoid the problematic food or find suitable alternatives, such as exploring new food preparation techniques and recipes that may improve tolerance.
Consulting with a registered dietitian can guide affected individuals in creating a well-balanced meal plan while avoiding trigger foods. Additionally, seeking additional support from online communities or local support groups can offer a sense of connection and a platform to share experiences and coping strategies.
Combating the Rising Prevalence
The rising prevalence of food intolerance and allergies presents a significant challenge for affected individuals. Many restrictive food diets have limited options, and specialty-made products are pricey. While financial constraints may limit access to expensive options, individuals can effectively cope with food allergies and intolerances by adopting budget-friendly strategies and making informed choices.
Rise of Food Intolerance and Allergies