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Food allergies reach epidemic levels in the United States
Food allergies are afflicting 15 million Americans. While the causes are now becoming clearer, researchers are working hard to find solutions.
The Food Allergy Research & Education organisation reports that 1 in 13 children are affected by food allergies in the United States, while the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that these have increased among children by an astonishing 50% between 1997 and 2011. Experts blame this upsurge on the quality of the foods we eat, our increasingly polluted environment and even excessive hygiene. Answers must be found soon, before the epidemic grows out of proportion.
While the foods most often associated with such indispositions are milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish, many people can be allergic to foods not commonly known to contain allergens. The 15 million Americans suffering from food allergies can have varying reactions, from mild to severe, including anaphylaxis, when the body overreacts to the substance causing a life threatening response.
A growing number of experts partly blame Western dietary habits and the consumption of large amounts of highly processed and refined foods that often contain trans fats, artificial preservatives, additives and colouring, not to mention pesticide residues on non-organic and genetically modified crops. Environmental toxins are also thought to suppress the immune system, making it less responsive to fighting allergens.
Specialists observed an increase in food allergies shortly after the mass introduction of genetically modified foods in the US. Genetic engineering can increase existing allergens or produce new ones, for example new proteins, which may trigger unknown reactions in the human body and for which remedies may not be easy to find.
Doctor Mercola, a leading natural health practitioner, believes in the hygiene hypothesis: children raised in sterile environments, away from dirt and germs and who are often given antibiotics lack natural resistance to diseases and allergens. Recent studies have found that children raised on farms with frequent exposure to animals and dirt benefit from the so-called farm effect, which makes them less likely to develop allergies.
Besides avoiding foods that trigger reactions, conventional treatments for food allergies include the use of medication such as antihistamines for mild symptoms, life-saving Epinephrine for anaphylaxis and steroids such as cortisone. However, a holistic approach may offer longer lasting results. A change in diet is essential. This should be rich in fibres, nutrient-dense foods, essential nutrients, friendly bacteria derived from traditionally fermented foods and even high quality probiotic supplements, check out on Amazon.com. These can restore gut health, in turn making the immune system more responsive and able to fight allergens without resorting to medication. A variety of antihistaminic herbs can also offer great relief. For some of those allergic to wheat, the use of ancient grains may be the answer. Also, early exposure to peanuts has been shown to be beneficial for preventing allergies to the legume later in life.
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