In a society of trends and things “going viral,” America has not fallen short when it comes to the realm of food allergies.
Why, all of a sudden, do food allergies seem so prevalent?
It does not take more than a few conversations in the Caf to meet at least one person who is allergic to a type of food or food product.
According to EmpowHer, a wellness and nutrition website, food allergies are more prevalent today than they ever have been, with the most common food allergies being milk, eggs, wheat, soy, tree nuts, and seafood.
Last year, senior Rosalyn Brickman was diagnosed with a soy and gluten allergy. The diagnosis made her eating habits very difficult and limited–especially in the Caf. Brickman found that gluten was hard to avoid in the Caf.
“Even the soups have flour in them,” she said.
This year, Brickman lives off-campus, but also has a commuter meal plan and occasionally dines at Vanguard.
She has noticed that this year that the Caf has become more aware of student food allergies by introducing a few gluten-free products, such as breads, bagels, and cookies.
Brickman hopes that student suggestions make a difference in how the Caf functions. She enjoys being able to cook for herself off-campus now, saying that her food choices are more her own decision.
An article by U.S. Weekly entitled “Colleges are accommodating more students with food allergies,” highlights different schools’ reactions to this epidemic.
Some schools have gone as far as being “peanut-free schools,” while some, such as Brown University, have opened allergy-free kitchens and offer made-to-order meals by specially trained cooks.
Depending on the person or the case, a food allergy can mean anything from mild lactose intolerance to a serious peanut allergy that causes anaphylactic shock.
According to FANN (Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network), 4% of adults have some kind of food allergy.
However, when it comes to the rise of food allergies, the most common victims are children.
CNN’s article “Why are food allergies on the rise?” explores the possible reasons for the rise in allergy prevalence.
One theory is that the Western diet, which is low in “gut bacteria,” has made people more prone to developing sicknesses and allergies.
Another theory is that children are growing up in environments that are “too clean.” The overemphasis of hygiene and antibacterial products may actually be weakening children’s immune systems.
Whether it is happening in children or Vanguard students, the “trend” of food allergies remains a mystery.
The good news, however, is that the medical field and the public are more aware of the prevalence, and this new awareness means better treatment and better understanding.