Hypoallergenic food is food which is unlikely to cause allergic reactions. It is used in elimination diets which are utilized to pin down the causes of food allergies, and it is sometimes recommended to parents of young children, especially children in a family with a history of food allergies. Many foods are naturally hypoallergenic and easy to integrate into a hypoallergenic diet, and it is also possible to find manufactured food products produced by companies which specialize in hypoallergenic food. These foods tend to be expensive, and they are available through large grocery stores and health food stores.
Some people find the term “hypoallergenic” confusing, because they think it means that something hypoallergenic will not produce an allergic reaction. In fact, “hypo” just means “less,” so hypoallergenic foods are less likely to produce allergic reactions. This means that someone could still have allergies to hypoallergenic foods, especially if that individual had a very obscure allergy or an extremely high level of sensitivity.
Packaged foods which are designed to be hypoallergenic are made without the use of common allergens like wheat, nuts, soy, seafood, and dairy products. Ideally, hypoallergenic food is made in a facility which does not handle any of these items, to avoid the risk of cross-contamination. Some foods may eliminate any grains which contain gluten, along with corn, mangoes, eggplant, tomatoes, and other foods which are commonly linked with allergic reactions.
Naturally hypoallergenic foods include rice, apples, pears, beans, lamb, and most vegetables. In the case of someone with a suspected food allergy, a doctor will usually provide a list of safe foods which are consumed by the patient for several weeks before he or she slowly adds allergens back into the diet. When an allergic reaction is experienced, it can be traced back to a particular food, thereby pinpointing the allergen.
Some parents use hypoallergenic foods for very young children, out of concern that early exposures to potential allergens could trigger the development of an immune system response, thereby making the child allergic. Peanut butter, for example, may not be offered to toddlers for this reason. Parents should definitely consult an allergy specialist about an appropriate diet for their children, since additional information about allergies is always being uncovered.
Humans are not the only ones who sometimes need hypoallergenic food. Pets and animals sometimes develop reactions to food allergens, and several companies manufacture food which is suitable for animals on a hypoallergenic diet.