5 Big Myths About Alpha-Gal Syndrome
Updated 10/9/2017 Red meat allergy, also known as alpha-gal syndrome would seem like a pretty straightforward condition, but as it turns out, it’s anything but. It's no surprise that the internet caught wind of an allergy to red meat and ran with it; as tends to happen, a concept popped up with viral potential, and in the process of creating snappy headlines and attention-grabbing copy, facts have been distorted along the way. We're here to clear up, in particular, 5 myths about Alpha-Gal Syndrome you've probably seen floating around in one form or another.
1. Myth: Alpha-gal syndrome is like any other food allergy.Reality: When alpha gal syndrome was discovered, it shook the scientific and medical communities to their core. For the first time ever, a carbohydrate rather than a protein was found to cause life threatening allergic reactions, but the weirdness didn’t end there. Unlike other food allergies, alpha gal reactions take an average of 3-8 hours to start once a contaminated food item has been eaten, as opposed to your standard immediate sort of reaction. This delay is generally credited with why it took so long for the condition to be recognized by science, and to this day it misleads people about why they are chronically and “randomly” ill on and off. What may seem like a cluster of strange symptoms (that are often misdiagnosed) is actually alpha-gal syndrome at work. Add into the mix that it appears to be triggered by tick bites that cause a major immune system disruption and you have one seriously strange syndrome.
2. Myth: Red meat allergy is a vegetarian/vegan plot.Reality: While offered up in good humor, this common response to first learning of alpha-gal syndrome ignores the full scope of the condition. Were it actually a vegetarian/vegan plot, we'd certainly recommend a trip back to the drawing board to avoid the self-sabotage. Vegetarians may be surprised to find they have developed the syndrome when milk products such as ice cream or whey powder supplements suddenly cause reactions(sometimes including anaphylaxis). This is because the alpha-gal molecule can be found in any product derived from mammals, not just meat. What about vegans then, surely they'd be safe? Not quite. A plethora of anecdotal reports supported by recent research has revealed that carrageenan, an additive made from red algae - used heavily in dairy substitutes and baked goods - can cause reactions in patients suffering from the so-called “red meat allergy”. On the bright side, if you do fall victim to alpha-gal syndrome, poultry, fish and other non-mammalian meats remain on the table as perfectly viable alternatives. Many people say that ostrich and emu taste just like beef; while we've certainly cleared up the myth that AGS is any sort of vegetarian/vegan plot in particular, we're not taking the ostrich/emu farmer plot concept off of the table quite yet.
Eat more Ostrich!