Many people believe that they are allergic to specific foods, but in fact, genuine food allergies, which attack the body’s immune system and many become life threatening, show up in only one to two percent of the adult population.
A far more common experience is food intolerance–a disagreeable reaction that bears many of the symptoms of an allergy. Food intolerances are extremely unpleasant, but they won’t kill you.
The season also plays a significant role in the intensity of intolerance and allergic reaction to some foods. For example, someone who is allergic to cantaloupe may be more susceptible in the spring and fall when the increase in airborne pollen can trigger symptoms.
“Many food intolerances result from a deficiency in the enzymes that aid digestion. For instance, the most common intolerance is lactose in cow’s milk; it occurs when the enzyme lactase, which is required to break down lactose (a sugar), is absent from the body. Those with gluten intolerance have intense difficulty digesting gluten, a natural component in wheat.” Dr. Alessio Fasano, a researcher at the University of Maryland, estimates 18 million Americans have some degree of gluten sensitivity.
There is a genuine need for science-based food jobs–allergy researchers–to solve these and other issues. Consider:
- The gluten-free market is a $6.3 billion industry and is on the rise.
- An estimated 11 million Americans suffer from allergies, including peanuts, shellfish and wheat.
- Researchers at Washington State University have found a compound in garlic that is 100 times more effective than two popular antibiotics fighting the Campylobacter bacterium, one of the most common causes of intestinal illness.
Excerpt from Great Food Jobs 2: Ideas and Inspiration for Your Job Hunt, available October, 2013.