Can Probiotics Help with Your Foods Allergies?
Food allergies are a growing public health issue. Globally, the prevalence of food allergies has increased. Approximately 8% of children and 5% of adults now live with foods allergy.
What are food allergies?
Food allergy occurs when the immune system responds abnormally to harmless proteins in foods called allergens. When the immune system sees harmless foods as dangerous invaders, it releases chemicals which are intended to protect the body, but actually harm instead. An allergic reaction to food can range from mild hives and itching to a life-threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis. Over 170 foods can trigger allergies, but the most severe reactions are caused by foods like peanut, eggs, wheat, shellfish, fish, and soy.
What role does the gut microbiota play?
A number of studies suggest that changes in the gut microbiota contribute to food allergies. Dysbiosis associated with allergy may be caused by various factors, including:
- Antibiotic therapy
- High fat and low-carb diet
- Inadequate intake of probiotics in early childhood
Treatment options for food allergies are limited despite their prevalence. The current recommendation includes avoiding foods known to induce food allergy and having epinephrine on hand in case of exposure. These approaches, however, are ineffective because they do not address the allergy's causes.
A more recent approach is immunotherapy, in which allergic individuals are exposed to low doses of an allergen over time to build tolerance. However, it is only effective in some cases.
Probiotic and prebiotic supplementation
Food allergy can be alleviated by probiotics and prebiotics. Probiotics are live microorganism that benefit the body, particularly the digestive system.
- They enhance the number of beneficial bacteria that interact with the gut’s immune system and improve how it tolerates food.
- They reduce the intestinal permeability, which results in a reduction in antigen uptake between the gut lining.
- They modulate the immune system and favor an immune response that is conducive to alleviating allergic symptoms.
Prebiotics are plant-based compounds that serve as foods for probiotics.
- They support the helpful bacteria and other organisms in the gut.
- Supports gut health and digestion by creating a healthy bacterial colony.
- Provides food for existing bacteria, keeping them healthy, growing, and functioning at their best.
The gut flora of people with and without allergies
The link between diet and food allergy begins during early childhood. Children who consume a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and home-cooked meals are less likely to develop food allergies than those who consume fewer of these foods.
The gut microflora of people who have food allergies and those who do not show significant differences. A healthy gut flora consists of a wide range of beneficial bacteria, including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. These bacteria work together with the intestinal immune system to train the body to tolerate certain food allergens. Changes in the gut ecosystem can lead to the development of food allergies. When there is a decrease in Lactobacillus, harmful bacteria such as S. aureus increase, which have been linked to milk and egg allergy.