Hypoallergenic refers to the strict avoidance of common allergens including measurable amounts in the original source of vitamins, minerals, macronutrients, carriers, manufacturing aids, and the finished product.
Currently, there are no Federal standards or definitions that govern the use of the term “hypoallergenic.” For a product to maintain hypoallergenicity, ingredients derived from potentially allergenic sources should be eliminated throughout the entire supply chain. Common allergens include corn, dairy, soy, fish, shellfish, eggs, fish, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, and gluten.
Hypoallergenic and Elemental Diets
Although some elemental diets claim to be hypoallergenic and lactose free, some products do not indicate dairy-free and use maltodextrin from corn as a source of carbohydrates. A hypoallergenic elemental diet product may contain corn-free maltodextrin and contain no common allergens. Other products used in place of elemental diets, such as targeted protein powders are also usually not hypoallergenic. Intact protein themselves are potentially irritating to the gastrointestinal and digestive systems. Proteins are large molecules and have four different levels of structure – primary, secondary, tertiary, and quaternary. Primary structure is defined by the types of amino acids found in the protein but as amino acids are bonded together complex interactions begin to occur.
Proteins are created when strands of amino acids start falling onto one another and create a three-dimensional structure. Many proteins are made up of multiple polypeptide chains, often referred to as protein subunits.
The quaternary structure refers to how these protein subunits interact with each other and arrange themselves to form a larger aggregate protein complex.
The final shape of the protein complex is once again stabilized by various interactions. While all of this is quite elegant biochemically, physiologically, proteins cause problems when they cross the selectively permeable intestinal mucosa into the blood stream. This is where the immune system gets involved and irritation begins. Thus, intact protein products have a higher immune system reaction potential than free form amino acids as seen in elemental diets.