Integrative Nutrition Blog

Can This Microbe Cure The Food Allergy Epidemic?

August 26, 2014

You probably know at least a few people who suffer from food allergies, whether it’s almonds, gluten, soy, or something else.

In a society where 60-70% of people have some sort of food allergy, it’s easy to look at these intolerances as commonplace, even natural. They’re not. The prevalence of food allergies is skyrocketing—children suffering from them increased by 50% between 1997 and 2011—and though no one is quite sure why, it’s fairly clear that it has something to do with how and what we eat today.

Throughout the 21st century, antibiotic use and rapid dietary changes have profoundly changed the makeup of microbes in our guts. In a new study from the University of Chicago, researchers confirmed that mice given antibiotics early in life were far more susceptible to developing a peanut allergy. But then, when the mice were given a solution containing Clostridia, a class of bacteria that’s naturally found in mammals’ guts, the allergen sensitization disappeared. What the team discovered was that the bacteria interacted with certain immune cells to help keep the peanut proteins that can cause allergic reactions out of the bloodstream.

This opens up a whole new realm of treatment for food allergies—for example, probiotics containing Clostridia—that could reduce food allergies in children and adults alike.

Of course, determining when a food allergy is present is no simple task. According to Integrative Nutrition guest lecturer and Board member Stephan Rechstchaffen, MD, most physicians miss food allergies because they don’t show up on skin tests, the most common diagnosis tool.

Instead, these allergies must be ferretted out through dietary experimentation and close monitoring of symptoms and food intake. Health Coaches, with their comprehensive nutrition training and ability to work closely with clients, are in a unique position to diagnosis these allergies and develop a plan to treat them. Rechstchaffen recommends taking a comprehensive health history and experimenting with 7-day elimination diets to pinpoint allergies, and a varied and organic diet to prevent the onset of allergies in the first place.

What are your thought on this new study? Would you treat your food allergies with Clostridia? Would you recommend it to clients? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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