Friday, April 2, 2010

The Importance of Reading Labels

The allergies I have to cow's milk, yeast, gluten and egg are some of the most common type 3 allergies. The reason for this is because they are found in an excessive amount of foods, some of which you wouldn't expect. Because of this, it is essential to be vigilant in reading food labels, once you have been diagnosed with a food allergy.

Cow's Milk:

Cow’s milk has been proven to be the most common food allergy and it isn’t surprising considering it is packed full of hormones, designed specifically for a calf’s first few months of life. It is also a relatively new addition to the human diet. Approximately 75 percent of the population stops producing lactase, the enzyme that is needed to break down the milk sugar lactose, once they’ve been weaned, which just goes to show that we are not designed to drink milk after early childhood.

Cow’s milk is one of the top food allergens found in children and adults with poor sleep, asthma, eczema, migraines, rheumatoid arthritis, hyperactivity, bronchitis, bed-wetting, heartburn, indigestion, depression, chronic diarrhoea and chronic fatigue.

A number of foods you would assume not to contain milk, do; including breads, cereals, crisps, salad dressings, nougat, custard and some margarines.

Some foreign words, which you may find on food labels, and that indicate the presence of cow’s milk are lactabumin, casein, sodium caseinate, lactose, whey casein, milk solids and hydrolysates.

Goat’s and sheep’s milk are not possible alternatives to cow’s milk because they all contain casein, which means that the immune system is unlikely to differentiate between the different milks.

Safe substitutes are soy milk, rice milk, almond milk and coconut milk, unless you have allergies to these.  

Gluten Grains:

Gluten grains are also fairly new to the human diet and consist of wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelt, kamut and triticale. As many as one in three people may be allergic to gluten because our bodies simply haven’t learnt to cope with it in the relatively short time we have been consuming it.

Symptoms include: sinusitis, chronic fatigue syndrome, fatigue caused by malabsorption of nutrients, diarrhoea, constipation, abdominal bloating, anaemia, depression and weight loss.

Alternatives to wheat include corn, rice, quinoa, amaranth, millet and buckwheat.

Foods that contain gluten are: Pastas; all baked goods such as pizzas, bread, biscuits and cakes, unless stated that they are gluten free. Fresh Earth sells wonderful gluten free breads, and some which are yeast free too. Remember to always read labels! Glutens are also hidden in many food items such as curry powders, tomato sauce, soups, sauces, processed cheese, sausages and even some medicines.

Restaurants are starting to realise that people have allergies to foods such a glutens, and offer gluten-free alternatives. Such restaurants are Col Cacchios, who offer gluten-free, egg-free and yeast free pizzas as well as gluten-free pastas. Doppio Zero also do gluten-free pizzas as does Full Stop Cafe in Parkhurst. Kauai offers gluten-free wraps and other allergy-free options.

Visit Dischem and health shops for gluten-free foods such as maize and rice pastas and gluten-free flours, which can be used to make breads, waffles, pizzas, cakes, biscuits, etc.


The reason why yeast is a common food allergen is because we are exposed to it on a daily basis without even realising it. Yeast, is not just found in baked goods, but also in soya sauce (Vital makes a yeast-free soya sauce); stock cubes (the make Marigold is yeast and gluten free); breakfast cereals; cheese; buttermilk; yoghurt with fruit; wine; beer; cider; spreads such as Marmite and Bovril; tinned and packet soups; peanuts and peanut butter; berries; melons; cherries; figs and fruit juices; overripe fruit and dried fruit; grapes and raisins; mushrooms; olives; capers; sausages; vinegar and all pickled foods as well as some biltong (Some Koo beans contain vinegar such as butter beans and kidney beans); tomato sauce; mustard; Worcester sauce; coffee and some vitamin products. 

Alcohol weakens the lining of the intestine and is therefore one of the main catalysts in type 3 food allergies. If you have food allergies you should reduce your alcohol intake. Vodka is the purest spirit and is therefore a good alternative to beer and wine. If you have an allergy to yeast, you should however avoid fruity drinks, such as cocktails and instead drink something like vodka, lime and soda. 


Reactions to egg white are much more common than to egg yolk, presumably because of the protein in egg white, ovomucoid. Eczema is a common symptom of an egg allergy. If you have an allergy to egg you should be aware of terms like albumin, egg substitutes, globulin, livetin, lecithin, lysozyme, ovalbumin, ovomucin and ovovitellin when reading food labels and avoid them.

Foods that contain egg include: breads and baked goods, chocolate and chocolate products, ice cream, puddings, nougat, pasta, sausages, mayonnaise, liquors, salad dressing, instant sauces and soups, condiments such as tomato sauce and mustard.


Garlic is another tough food to avoid because most dishes these days contain it as it improves the flavour of the dish.

Most Italian, Thai and Indian meals contain garlic as do most ready-made meals from Woolies.

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