Food intolerance can make daily life difficult for those who live with them, but, it can be comforting to know that you are not alone. The eight most common food allergens – dairy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, fish, soy and shellfish – account for 90% of all food intolerance, and of the 17 million Americans affected, many include well-known celebrities and athletes.
Top-seated tennis player Serena Williams is reported to have a peanut allergy. This common food allergen is the most prevalent allergen among American children and for some, exposure can be life-threatening. Reactions can be severe and many people discover a sensitivity early in life, confirmed with the help of a food intolerance test. Williams does not let the allergy slow her down and finds alternative sources of protein to fuel her for grueling tennis matches.
Film and television star Zooey Deschanel decided to go vegan at a time when she was aware only of her egg and dairy intolerance, but those aren’t the only food allergies from which the actress suffers. Even without food intolerance testing, it quickly became apparent that she was also allergic to soy and wheat, two staples in both vegetarian and vegan diets. Deschanel has since reintroduced meat into her diet to make up for the numerous foods she is unable to consume.
American Idol‘s second season runner-up and UNICEF ambassador Clay Aiken has found fame as a solo artist and Broadway performer. The star discussed his numerous food allergies on The Tyra Banks Show, and the list includes chocolate, coffee, mint, mushrooms and two very common allergens: shellfish and tree nuts. Tree nuts can include almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts and many more, but a tree nut allergy is separate from a peanut allergy despite both triggering similar symptoms.
While fish is often touted as an excellent source of lean protein, many people exhibit an intolerance to the food, including recently retired NHL hockey player Tom Poti. Most people who suffer are only affected by certain types of fish, but many allergists recommend avoiding all fish to avoid a new trigger. Those who insist on continuing to include fish in their diet should look into food intolerance testing under the supervision of a trained medical professional to find specific triggers to avoid. In addition to fish allergy, the former Washington Capitals player is also sensitive to tree nuts and MSG.
Talk show host and one-time Survivor contestant Elisabeth Hasselbeck discovered later in life that she suffers from celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder which causes inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract as a result of the immune system’s response to gluten. Celiac disease can cause an increased risk for some gastrointestinal cancers as well as decrease an individual’s ability to absorb nutrients. After researching the disease, Hasselbeck eliminated gluten from her diet and visited doctors for a confirmed diagnosis. It is important to have a food intolerance test done to rule out any other factors; however, once diagnosed, a lifelong gluten-free diet is the only way to manage the disease.