What Foods Trigger Alpha-gal Syndrome? Check It!


One of the most common food allergies globally is alpha-gal syndrome. This condition is an allergic reaction to red meat and other products made from mammals. It may be a severe problem for affected people. 

In this article, we will present a comprehensive description of the foods that cause alpha-gal syndrome. Besides, we will cover its symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment. 

Lastly, we will include what we should not eat for this condition to be controlled properly.

What Triggers Alpha-Gal Syndrome?

Alpha-Gal Syndrome Disease

The alpha-gal sugar molecules are present in almost all meat and mammal products. This leads to Alpha-gal syndrome. Common food allergies are protein-induced.

In contrast, alpha-gal syndrome is unique in its carbohydrate origin. Sources of alpha-gal include beef, pork, lamb, and venison. They also include dairy products, gelatin, and some medications with animal byproducts.

Causes of Alpha-Gal Syndrome

Alpha-gal syndrome is a rare condition caused by sugar molecules. Knowing its causes is critical to controlling and preventing it.

  • Tick Bites: The primary cause of alpha-gal syndrome is an attack by certain species of ticks. This results in an immune reaction in the body.
  • Lone Star Tick: The Lone Star tick is often responsible in the USA. It carries the alpha-gal molecule.
  • Other Ticks: Globally, other ticks can also cause this condition. The kind of tick varies by region.

Sensitization to Alpha-Gal and Immune Response

When a tick bites, it introduces alpha-gal into the bloodstream. Once sensitized, eating mammal meat or by-products can trigger an allergic reaction. This happens because the body remembers and reacts to alpha-gal in food. The body sees alpha-gal as a threat. It starts to fight it by making antibodies. 

Knowing these causes helps to prevent alpha-gal syndrome. You can do this by avoiding tick habitats and using tick repellents. If a tick bite occurs, it is important to remove the tick promptly and watch for symptoms.

Skin Reactions Due to Alpha-Gal Syndrome

Skin reactions are common in alpha-gal syndrome. These include:

  • Hives are red, and there are itchy welts on the skin. They can appear anywhere on the body.
  • Itching without visible welts can also occur, often intensely.
  • The body parts, particularly the face and lips, may become swollen.

➡️ Gastrointestinal Symptoms due to alpha-gal syndrome

Consumption of mammal products leads to digestive problems.

  • The most prevalent symptom is dull or sharp abdominal pain
  • Nausea leads to vomiting
  • Another common symptom is diarrhea, which causes discomfort

➡️ Respiratory Issues Due to alpha-gal syndrome

Breathing problems can occur, making it hard to breathe. The first reason is that the government has been unable to control inflation.

The airways narrow, causing difficulty in taking a deep breath.

A whistling sound is audible when exhaling.

Recognizing and managing alpha-gal syndrome requires an understanding of these symptoms. If any of these symptoms show up after consuming mammal meat or products, consult a physician.

Diagnosis of Alpha-Gal Syndrome

Diagnosing alpha-gal syndrome involves a few steps. These steps help doctors understand if a person has this allergy.

  • Medical History: The first step is talking about your health history. This helps find clues about the allergy. Doctors ask about reactions after eating meat. This includes what you ate and how you felt afterward.

They also ask about any tick bites. This helps link symptoms to possible causes.

  • Blood Tests: Blood tests are a vital part of diagnosis. They look for specific signs of the allergy. A blood test can find antibodies against alpha-gal. This shows if the body is reacting to it.
  • Other Allergy Tests: Sometimes, doctors do more tests. These check for other allergies. This helps make sure the diagnosis is correct. 

Alpha-gal syndrome diagnosis may take a long. When it comes to symptoms, there is a need for a doctor. They can help identify whether alpha-gal syndrome is the underlying cause.

Treatment for Alpha-Gal Syndrome

Avoid foods and products that contain alpha-gal to treat the alpha-gal syndrome. In an allergic reaction, mild symptoms are usually treatable with antihistamines. In case of a severe reaction, such as anaphylaxis, seek immediate medical attention. You may need to use epinephrine (EpiPen).

List of foods to avoid with Alpha-gal

There is a need to avoid some foods when one has alpha-gal syndrome. This prevents allergies. 

➡️ Red Meat

Meat from mammals is a big no-no. This includes: 

  • Beef: Cows are common sources of alpha-gal.
  • Pork: Meats like bacon and ham come from pigs and do not go well with the allergies.
  • Lambs: Sheep meat is also risky.
  • Venison: Deer meat contains alpha-gal.

➡️ Dairy Products

Milk products can cause problems. Be careful with: 

  • Milk: All mammal milk is best avoided.
  • Butter: Even small amounts in food can trigger a reaction.
  • Cheese: This includes all types of chees made from mammal’s milk.
  • Yogurt: Like other dairy, it is best to stay away from it. 

➡️ Other products

Many foods contain lard. Eating such foods should be avoided as a way of controlling alpha-gal syndrome. Whenever you go out to eat, always look at labels and ask about ingredients. Awareness and caution are the essence of avoiding allergic reactions.

Living with Alpha-Gal Syndrome

Alpha-Gal syndrome patients must make many dietary changes. They must stay constantly alert to avoid trigger foods. This includes learning about different names and sources of alpha-gal.

It also involves making dietary restrictions clear when dining out or buying food. It’s important to carry emergency medication like EpiPen in case of unintended exposure.

What is alpha-gal syndrome, and how can people manage this very complicated food allergy? It is a complex disease. It requires detailed knowledge of its triggers, signs, symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment.

People with alpha-gal syndrome can manage their condition by avoiding specific foods. They can also plan for accidental exposures. Can they still lead a very healthy lifestyle? Awareness and education are crucial to guide people through this complicated condition.

They also ensure their safety and health. Individuals with alpha-gal syndrome can take control of their health. They can do so by understanding what causes the reactions. They can also learn ways to prevent allergies.


In conclusion, effective management of Alpha-gal Syndrome requires knowledge of the foods that cause the condition. People may reduce symptoms and enhance their quality of life by locating and avoiding alpha-gal sources.

People with Alpha-gal Syndrome can reduce the chance of negative reactions and make educated dietary decisions by being vigilant about reading labels and seeking advice from medical professionals.

Dr. Jun Ren is a dedicated and experienced registered dietitian and nutritionist who is committed to helping people achieve their health goals through personalized nutrition plans. With a passion for promoting healthy eating habits and preventing chronic diseases, Dr. Ren has been able to assist numerous clients in improving their overall quality of life.

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