An estimated 32 million adults and children in America are living with food allergies. Exposure to an allergen can result in hives, itching and difficulty breathing. Left untreated, a food allergy may be fatal.
Living with a food allergy can make everyday activities difficult and anxiety-inducing. Eating out as a family or sending a child to school can introduce a whole host of risks for exposure to a potentially life-threatening food. Although avoidance is the only proven treatment for food allergies, new research suggests that specific bacteria could help with prevention and even reversal of food allergies.
Food allergies cannot be cured. They are treated by avoiding known allergens that could trigger anaphylaxis. A 2019 study explored the possibility of using five to six species of bacteria found in the gut of a healthy, human infants as a therapeutic treatment of allergies. Learn more about the relationship between gut bacteria and food allergies.
Bacteria Could Be the Key to Treating Allergies.
What is the Gut Microbiome?
Trillions of bacteria live in the human gut and cover the skin. Even though most people associate bacteria with germs and illness, this is no reason to the alarmed. In fact, the microbiome of the gut plays an important role in keeping the body healthy.
Specifically, healthy microbes in the gut help balance the unhealthy bacteria in the human body. They’re associated with improved digestion, immune function and even mental health. There are believed to be 40 trillion bacterial cells in the human body, and without them, you might not survive.
Food Allergies, the Gut and Bacteria
In 2019, researchers did an animal study hoping to learn more about the role the bacteria in the gut plays in preventing and managing food allergies. They determined that there was a difference in the bacterial profile of the guts of infants with food allergies and those who did not have food allergies.
They identified six species of bacteria believed to be associated with protection against allergens and administered those to mice. A decrease in allergic responses to egg was noted in mice who received this bacteria orally compared to those who were given bacteria from infants with food allergies.
What’s Next for Food Allergies and Gut Bacteria?
At this time, immunotherapy using bacteria isn’t being performed on humans with allergies. Additional studies are in progress, which could lead to changes in how allergies are managed and treated in the near future.
In the meantime, both those with and without allergies can work to improve the health of their gut. This can be done by adding probiotic foods to their diet. Yogurts whose labels indicate they contain live, active cultures and fermented foods like kefir, sauerkraut and kombucha can all introduce a variety of probiotic bacteria to the gut.
Until further research is developed, adults and children with food allergies should practice the only proven treatment for food allergies, which is avoidance. Steering clear of foods containing known allergens and being careful about cross-contamination in restaurants and at schools is the best way to prevent an allergic reaction.
~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension!
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