Understanding Peanut Allergies
If you’re allergic to peanuts, you may be wondering if there are any other foods you may be allergic to as well. Fortunately, for nut fans, these foods are unlikely to be nuts.
That’s because, despite their name, peanuts aren’t nuts – they are legumes. For most people, their legume allergy will begin and end with peanuts – soy, peas, and beans will all be OK, as will other ‘nuts’ in the legume family such as walnuts or pecans. But then, there’s one legume, lupin, that people with peanut allergies are likely to react to.
People with peanut allergies are also more likely to be allergic to tree nuts, despite the fact peanuts and tree nuts aren’t closely related. Nature is weird, huh?
If you’re allergic to peanuts, but are OK to give other nuts a try, check out Planters Nuts.
What causes food allergies?
Food allergies happen when the body’s immune system attacks a food you’ve eaten. Usually, the immune system only attacks things that harm us, but sometimes, it makes a mistake. Like us, immune systems are only human.
If you then eat that food again, the antibodies your body sent out the first time attack the allergen and release chemicals that cause the allergic reaction. This reaction can range from mild to severe, with symptoms including itching, a rash, or trouble breathing. If you’re really sensitive to a food, even breathing it in or touching it can cause you to react.
Allergic reactions can also vary every single time you’re exposed to that allergen. The same food can cause mild symptoms on one occasion and more severe symptoms on the next.
People can be allergic to any food, but some allergies are more common than others. Eight food groups make up most food allergies – milk, peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish.
Soy milk and peanut allergies
Some people worry that feeding babies soy milk can make them more likely to develop a peanut allergy. Recent studies showed that peanut-allergic children were 2.6 times more likely to have been fed soy milk. Some skin products for babies also contain peanut oil, which can sensitize them to peanuts and cause a rash. However, the results of these studies can be explained by the fact that these children, who developed peanut allergy after drinking soy, may have developed that allergy as the result of a milk allergy that caused their parents to switch.
As general advice, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that if your baby is at high risk for a food allergy, try to breastfeed them for at least 4-6 months exclusively. If that’s impossible, try using hypoallergenic formula, not soy formula.
Legumes and lupin
Of all legumes, lupin is the one peanut allergy sufferers are most likely to react to. Most commonly used in Europe as an ingredient of flour, lupin is increasingly common in the US as an ingredient of gluten-free baked goods.
Around 50% of people who are allergic to peanuts will also be allergic to lupin. If you’re concerned, talk to your doctor. Also, make sure to watch for lupin, as well as peanuts, on food labels.