Why Food Allergies Are on the Rise in the US?

Food allergy is no longer a closet condition that everyone bowed their heads over. Take for example peanuts, almost a quadruple of the United States is allergic to peanut. The word brand manufacturer a few years meant quality products for everyone, now we no longer get the same product. They are more focused on making an income than producing good food to cater for everyone.

What’s Food Allergy

This is a medical condition whereby exposure to certain foods triggers a harmful immune response. It occurs when the immune system attacks the protein in food that in normal cases is harmless. Watch out for these common symptoms of allergic reactions which include itchy mouth, few hives, throat tightening, and difficulties in breathing.

There are severe cases where one can experience Anaphylaxis which is sudden and can cause death. The good news is that anaphylaxis can be treated by use of epinephrine which should be injected within minutes of the onset of symptoms.

Facts About Food Allergies

  • It’s estimated that every three minutes food reaction sends someone to the emergency room.
  • In a year, 200,000 U.S. people require emergency medical attention as a result of an allergic reaction.
  • The number of medical procedure to treat anaphylaxis due to food allergy has increased by 380 percent between 2007 and 2016.
  • Over 40 percent of children with food allergies have experienced severe reaction such as anaphylaxis. ”

Why Food Allergies Are On the Rise

There are several reasons behind this unprecedented rise in food allergies. Here are a few theories.

1. The western diet

The western diet shares some of the blame. The food being manufactured these days is high in sugar, unhealthy fats, genetically modifies, some food farms have pesticides and herbicides and other food have been injected drugs and antibiotics. All this can have a negative impact on our microbiome, which is the basis of good health and immunity.

In a study comparing two children, a 15-year-old who lived in urban Italy and a 14-year-old child from rural Africa. It clearly showed a significant difference in the diversity of bacteria in their guts. The reason being in their diet. The child from rural Africa has his diet low in fat and rich in plant-based foods which are grown and harvested locally by villagers. In contrast, the Italian kid diet was rich in animal protein, sugar, and starch then low in fiber. Ultimately, the microbiome of the kid from Italy was less than that of the kid from Africa. Plus, the food we are consuming these days isn’t that safe and with no GMO label on the ingredients list to trace the impact of the food, the biotech industry is able to claim that there is no single documented case of these foods ever causing harm.

2. The Hygiene Hypothesis

Our nation is obsessed with cleanliness which might be contributing to the rise in food allergies. Obviously, staying germ-free can prevent the spread of infection but it’s making our younger generation more susceptible to all sorts of allergies. According to an epidemiologist David Strachan, exposure to things we consider dirty or harmful like bacteria, viruses, parasites, and allergens early in life can strengthen the immune system and protect it against allergies later in life. With years of exposure to these pathogens, we develop tolerance to this microorganism.

3. Environmental Changes

Due to climate changes, the U.S. has seen a rise in temperature and is estimated that in the coming decades the temperature could rise even further by 10 degrees. As a result of this warm climate, the growing seasons will be longer increasing pollen and allergen count thus making respiratory allergies even worse. According to scientists, climate change is a contributing factor that needs immediate attention. We need to be watchful of our environment and avoid the use of chemicals that aren’t eco-friendly.

Common Food That Causes Allergies

According to reports, more than 170 foods cause allergic reactions. The major food allergens being, eggs, milk, peanuts, wheat, soy, fish, tree nuts, and crustacean shellfish. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the prevalence of allergies to the above food in children has increased by 50 percent.

Conclusion

Food allergies have no cure but can be managed by avoiding food that brings the reactions. Additionally, you need to learn how to recognize and treat reactions symptoms. Scientists are studies food allergies therapies although none have been approved for general use. There is no absolute answer to the increasing food allergies but combining the above theories we are much closer to determining the root cause.

All images by Pixabay

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