Chem181- Topic7, 2.docx - DR JOE SCHWARCZ Food allergies Well allergies are absolutely fascinating because of the tremendous variety of symptoms that

Chem181- Topic7, 2.docx - DR JOE SCHWARCZ Food allergies...

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DR. JOE SCHWARCZ: Food allergies. Well, allergies are absolutely fascinating because of the tremendous variety of symptoms that they can give rise to. All the way from swelling and nausea to asthma, a runny nose, which is rhinitis, eczema, flatulence. All of these are possible. Well what do we mean by classical food allergy? We mean a reaction to some substance-- and today, of course, we're talking about food-- that can give rise to the symptoms here because they give rise to antibodies that form in the body. Now, the extreme reaction of classical food allergy is something called anaphylaxis, which is a total collapse of the circulatory system and it can very quickly lead to death. Awful situation. So what actually happens in an allergy? The body's immune system makes a mistake and it attacks a foreign substance that actually presents no danger. But the immune system thinks that it's something nasty and needs to be eliminated. Well, how does the immune system do that? By generating a specific class of proteins called antibodies. And those antibodies, upon meeting the allergen the next time, will engulf it and try to get rid of it. And that reaction between the allergen and the antibody is what is manifested in an allergic reaction. So for example, our eyes water because our system tries to wash away the allergen. Our skin itches because scratching gets rid of whatever allergen there is. So the body attempts to get rid of the foreign material and the tool that it uses are special proteins called antibodies. The foods that give rise most likely to allergies are these. Milk, nuts, eggs, shellfish, fish. If you're allergic to fish, you're not necessarily allergic to shellfish and vice versa. But these are the most allergenic foods. They will give rise to antibodies upon exposure. Now, nobody is ever allergic upon first exposure, because the first exposure just triggers antibody formation. On subsequent exposure, you get an allergen antibody reaction and that is what manifested in the symptoms of allergy. But those symptoms can be diverse. In some people they present as a rash or hives. In others, it can be just blackening under the eyes. And unfortunately, in some cases it can be anaphylaxis, leading to death. In this unfortunate situation here, a gentleman at a party tried the little canape, which he thought was just some sort of pate.
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He put it in his mouth. By the time he realized that there was fish in it, it was too late. His respiratory tract just swelled up. He couldn't breathe and died. This can happen. Luckily it happens very rarely, but it can to happen upon exposure to a large array of the different substances. In some cases, meat tenderizer. Meat tenderizer is an enzyme called papain. That can cause allergic reactions to some people.
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