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Food Allergy Nation

Sunday, August 09, 2009
If you were to take a trip down the grocery aisle, you can pick up any number of products and it would read on the label "contains peanuts, soy, may contain traces of tree nuts", etc.

Why is it that many developed countries are having an increase in food allergies, but poorer countries don't seem to have this problem? Well, logically it's because poorer nations' allergic problems are simply under reported- because without adequate healthcare and testing, there is no way to track how many may actually suffer from some form of a food allergy.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children 18 years and younger reported a 18% jump of the condition from years 1997-2007. Each year, 30,000 people in the US are rushed to the emergency room suffering from an allergic reaction to food. The problem is climbing fast among Hispanics. European nations have posted similar figures. The problem is figuring out WHY people that are fortunate to have a healthy food supply, may not be able to enjoy it.

Allergies happen when the body has too much IgE, which acts as the detector for foreign body invaders. When an invader is spotted, the IgE attaches to the surface of cells that release histamines resulting in: rash and hives, a blood pressure drop, edema(fluid swelling), constricted airways, coughing, watery eyes, respiratory distress, anaphylactic shock, and worst case is death.

What can stop the IgE? A dose of adrenaline/epinephrine. Note: Those suffering from asthma are more prone to the more serious reactions.

So, why the quick reactions and large IgE spike? Well, a clean body may be to blame. Sounds ridiculous right? Our generation has been able to increase longevity from being more sanitary than our ancestors, so what's the problem?! 

Well, the body was naturally made to be a soldier fighting off bacteria, parasites, and other biological microorganisms. With our developed drugs and antibiotics- which are given to treat just about every issue we go to the doctor for- no wonder our body over reacts when it spots an 'invader'. Not only are medications to blame.
Think about the products we use in every day life that claim to kill 99.99% germs, bacteria, allergens. Our immune system is getting weaker because our body isn't fighting any longer. We are TOO clean. So what can be done?

Well, my son isn't allergic to peanut butter, but gets a reaction to peanuts that aren't dry may be the oil that's the culprit? who knows. But being in the health sciences field, I understood that just as a vaccine works by giving the body a weakened strain of a disease, the same can go for allergies. I gave him a peanut a day to eat so that his body can slowly be introduced to it, and not overreact. It worked!

I recently learned that there is such a thing as oral immunotherapy in which the same approach is taken. Doctors try to retrain the immune system by giving doses of the offensive protein enough times, in increasing doses, that the body's defenses eventually back down a little and accept the proteins. In trial studies, it seems to be working.
I know that acupuncture does the same to treat allergies by giving a minute dose to the body, and over time, the allergy seems to vanish.

A consultation with a medical professional is highly recommended when it comes to treating food allergies, but there are alternatives to the status quo. I hope this article helps any one looking for another method to ' prescription meds'.
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