Food allergy in the elderly.


      Food allergies are a growing health problem among the aging population. It is estimated that up to 5% – 10% of elderly people have food allergies but are not diagnosed and treated promptly.

With a significant increase in life expectancy, it is predicted that by 2050, there will be more than 80 million people aged 65 and over, around 20 million people aged 85 years or older. This rapidly aging population will face aging of the immune system.

Aging of the immune system, which causes specific changes in different cell types of the immune system. For mast cells, a key cell type involved in food allergy reactions, aging reduces degranulation of the fertiliser cells and disrupts functional regulation. .

Food allergies are a growing health problem among the aging population. It is estimated that up to 5% – 10% of elderly people have food allergies but are not diagnosed and treated promptly. One study reported that 24.8% of home care patients (mean age 77) were positive for food allergens. In the elderly, predisposing factors for food allergy are decreased gastric acidity, resulting in decreased protein digestibility and increased body exposure to allergenic molecules, and decreased serum immunoglobulin E concentrations. (IgE).

* Nutrition – the stronghold of the immune system

Nutrition plays an important role in protecting the immune system. The three most important micronutrients are vitamin D, zinc and iron. Depletion or deficiency in the amount of calcitriol (the active form of vitamin D) can negatively affect the response of food-associated IgE.

Poor zinc intake (absorbed from food) can alter immune performance, making it easier to develop food allergies. Iron deficiency also reduces the antibody response and increases the risk of food allergies. Vitamin and mineral supplements can improve this condition.

* Poor symptoms

Symptoms of a food allergy can range from mild to severe. A person with food-borne anaphylaxis needs immediate medical attention and the food allergy diagnosis is easier. However, the elderly are less likely to exhibit anaphylaxis, making detection of the cause more difficult. Symptoms are mild and often nonspecific and can be associated with many causes: involving the skin, nose, eyes, mouth/lips, ears, gastrointestinal or respiratory tract, and cardiovascular system.

Specific symptoms may not be accurate due to the elderly taking oral medications, insomnia, environmental allergies, digestive problems, viruses, autoimmune disorders, or the effects of aging in general. Undiagnosed food allergies (and celiac disease) can contribute to fatigue, malabsorption, and inflammation that further worsen the health of the elderly.

* Key to diagnosis and management of food allergy in the elderly.

1. When you have a food allergy, the only method is to avoid the allergen.

Double-check the ingredients on the label before buying a food.

2. Lack of knowledge and food cross-contamination can lead to allergies.

The purchaser must ask the supplier for the ingredients or formula of the food. If there is no clear ingredient information, do not know the origin of the food, it is best not to use that food…

3. For anaphylaxis, immediate medical attention is required.

In mild cases, antihistamines can be effective in relieving symptoms. Ideally, always have a doctor-prescribed anti-allergy medication on hand.

4. To choose appropriate food to ensure safety, it is necessary to:

• Read all food labels and check back periodically, as additives can change. If you’re not sure, don’t use it.

• Adjust recipes. Many sites will offer substitutions and/or alterations to appropriate recipes. • Knowledge is essential to avoid food allergies. When buying should ask the supplier to answer information related to food.

• Avoid cross-contamination by cleaning food preparation areas, utensils, plates, pans and kitchen equipment. Review safety devices where necessary (e.g. toaster, microwave, etc.).

• Check the menu when ordering food delivered to your home. Some menus may contain food allergens, cross-contamination.

• Bring safe food when going out, picnic. If food is shared, avoid cross-contamination of allergenic foods. To be on the safer side, it’s a good idea to have a snack or eat before you join people.

* Supplement essential substances.

Supplement essential micronutrients, especially iron, zinc and vitamin D; multivitamins (A, C and E, B complex vitamins, minerals); coenzyme Q10, probiotics, omega-3 fish oils and L-glutamine are also beneficial. However, be careful when using and preventing overdose with the elderly.


Some herbs that are recommended for immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory effects can be used, such as green tea, milk thistle, bromelain (an enzyme extracted from pineapple), turmeric, and cat’s claw, but extreme caution should be exercised because of potential interaction effects.

Patients should eat more omega-3 fats such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, herring and nuts such as flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts; rapeseed oil. In addition, drink 6-8 cups of filtered water a day and increase your daily probiotic intake by eating yogurt, so choose foods rich in fiber.

Avoid trans fats in baked and processed foods. Be physically active for at least 30 minutes every day of the week; Limit alcohol or abstain completely. You can drink 1 small drink per day for women and 2 small drinks per day for men.

Advise the elderly to watch for food allergens that are not present in foods, but may be present in creams, cosmetics, medications and hair products.

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