It's hard to pinpoint exactly what causes allergies, especially if you have a delayed allergic response.

Typically people who have an immediate reaction can pinpoint their allergy down to one or two foods. However, those who experience delayed allergic reactions may be allergic to as many as 14 or 16 different foods. To learn how to track your diet and target the cause of your allergies, keep reading.

How the Allergic Reaction Works

A food allergy is actually an immune system function. Basically, the body senses a substance that it doesn't like or want inside the body. It responds by releasing white blood cells along with histamine and leukotrienes, which cause inflammation. That inflammation can occur in the stomach, intestinal tract, throat, mouth or in the form of a rash.

In addition to sending out white blood cells, the immune system also powers up its antibodies. These try to rid the body of any traces of the offending food in the intestinal tract, blood or stomach. Unfortunately, they can cause long-term harm.

With immediate-onset allergies, symptoms will appear within one to two hours of eating even a small amount of culprit food. They often manifest as hives, hay fever, asthma or swelling of the mouth, lips or respiratory tract.

With delayed-response allergic reactions, symptoms will appear up to 72 hours after eating the culprit food. They're usually provoked by eating a large amount of it or ingesting it frequently.

What Foods Cause Allergies

Keep Track of Everything You Eat

The best way to monitor your consumption and track down an allergy is to keep a food diary. By monitoring everything you eat and tracking your symptoms, you will start to see a pattern, eventually allowing you to pinpoint certain trigger items you eat.

Eliminate Culprit Foods

When you think a particular food may be causing your allergies, try to stop eating it for at least three weeks. Once the food is out of your system, try reintroducing it. If you experience the symptoms, then you've found your allergy.

If you believe your allergy may be caused by multiple culprit foods, try eliminating all the suspect items from your diet for three weeks. After this cleansing period, begin to eat a little of each individual food, one-by-one. Allow for a four-day window between introductions. During this period, keep a careful eye on your symptoms.

Also, be aware that when you give up a food to which you are allergic, you may experience temporary withdrawal symptoms, such as headaches, fatigue, and irritability. This is normal and should not be cause for concern.

Eliminate the Culprit Food

Once you've found your culprit food, it's time to eliminate it from your diet. Ideally, your symptoms should disappear within 3 to 6 months. Sometimes, if the allergy isn't severe, the foods can be gradually reintroduced in small amounts. Before you do so with certain foods, though, you may want to consult with your doctor or a nutritionist.

By creating an awareness of what you eat and how it affects your body, you can begin to learn the causes of your allergies and take appropriate action.

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