Today, 32 million Americans have food allergies, a number that is higher than ever before. The CDC reports that 1 in 13 children – or about two students per Classroom – has food allergies. The question is, what is causing this epidemic?
In a paper published today in the journal Cell, four immunologists from Yale suggest that an excessive activation of our food quality control system is largely to blame for the increased incidence of food allergies. (Related: The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.)
Prior to this research, a prevailing theory suggested that there are no natural pathogens ̵
Now, immunobiologists say that our current food quality control system is designed to protect us from eating harmful foods. may be the culprit for why so many Americans develop allergies to common foods. Between the unnatural substances in highly processed foods and environmental chemicals in dishwashing detergent, for example – in addition to the lack of natural microbial exposure – everything disrupts the food quality program.
So how does this affect you or your loved ones? Think of it this way: how should we treat these allergies without knowledge Why it happens?
“We cannot devise ways to prevent or treat food allergies until we fully understand the underlying biology,” said co-author Ruslan Medzhitov, Sterling professor of immunobiology and investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in a statement shared with Eat this, not that! “You can not be a good car mechanic if you do not know how a normal car works.”
There is a kind of immune system response that fires when we ingest toxins and work to neutralize the threat. However, the same response also triggers allergies – both environmental and food. Again, this hypersensitivity to pollen and gluten occurs as a result of the lack of true natural threats (parasites) in today’s food system.
According to this original theory, this immune response is targeted at harmless proteins found in certain food groups, such as those found in the major 8 food allergens (milk, eggs, peanuts, nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat and soy).
However, Yale researchers are now theorizing that three other environmental factors have affected the natural control system for food qualityand claim that they have also significantly contributed to the hypersensitivity of our immune system to various foods.
“One factor is increased use of hygiene products and overconsumption of antibiotics and secondly, a change in diet and the increased consumption of processed foods with reduced exposure to naturally grown foods and altered composition of the intestinal microbiome,” Medzhitov said.
“Finally, the introduction of food preservatives and environmental chemicals, such as dishwashing detergents, introduced new elements that the immune system can monitor.”
In short, the authors of this article suggest that this behavior is what encourages the immune system to attack food proteins in the same way as for toxic substances.
Until more research is conducted and we have more clarity about actions, we can take day to day to reduce our exposure to these unnatural substances and chemicals, in the meantime, what better reason to limit your consumption of processed foods even more?
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