Food allergies or toxic buildup? Study finds that despite a recent increase in reported food allergies, no corresponding change in antibody levels have been found

Allergies were not a common medical complaint a few decades ago, but it seems that the country is having a food allergy epidemic. Reports of allergies are increasing, and researchers can’t figure out why. In fact, an intriguing study from the John Hopkins University School of Medicine recently concluded that despite the growing number of allergy incidences, levels of antibodies related to food allergies have not increased in several years.

Food allergies in children have grown by 50 percent since 1990. Almost five percent of all children in the U.S. are diagnosed with food allergy, mostly from milk, eggs, shellfish, and peanuts. Self-reported food allergy rates have risen, including the number of emergency room visits and hospitalizations related to it. The study, published in the April 2016 issue of Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, suggests that the increase of food allergy reports may be due to the growing recognition and diagnosis of food allergies, or because of a changing relationship between the presence of immunoglobulin E (IgE), an antibody associated with allergic reactions. Researchers wondered if the IgE antibodies to food had risen together with the reported food allergy rise.

The researchers involved in the study analyzed almost 8,000 blood samples from children aged six to 19, collected between 1988 to 1994 and 2005 to 2006. The results surprisingly showed that there was no increase in the number of children affected by peanut, milk, or egg allergies, and the number of antibodies to shrimp even decreased. Corinne A. Keet, senior author of the study, explains that parents, patients, and physicians might just simply be more aware of food allergies today than before.

Most people would simply avoid a food because it made them feel sick, but did not call it an allergy. Today, people would associate a rash and other symptoms to an allergic reaction to a specific type of food. All the involved researchers state that more studies need to be done on more recent blood samples and broader groups of people in order to identify the underlying cause of the allergy epidemic and the IgE link. However, these researchers may not be considering the fact that the rise of allergy reports may likely be associated with the increase in consumption of highly processed foods.

Hypersensitivity, commonly known as an allergy, happens when the immune system responds to something that comes in contact with your body, usually by dermal exposure, inhalation, or ingestion. Substances that usually cause allergic reactions include pollen, dust mites, mold spores, pet dander, food, insect stings, and medicines. A normal immune system fights germs, but in the case of allergic reactions, the immune system responds to a “false alarm.” Allergies may be inherited, but environmental factors may also play a role. Since environmental factors may induce allergies, it can be said that unhealthy eating habits may be the reason for the growing allergy epidemic. These unhealthy foods may also cause damages to the immune system, which may explain why there isn’t a significant increase in IgE, relatively to the increase in allergies.

Some symptoms of allergies include a runny nose, sneezing, itching, rashes, swelling, or even asthma. It can be as severe as anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction that usually happens inside the body. Individuals who undergo anaphylaxis may experience a constriction of the respiratory system, leading to death. It is, fortunately, preventable and treatable. Many medical experts suggest detoxification, or simply, detox, to help prevent the onset of allergies, or minimize the gravity of allergic reaction symptoms. These include eating healthy whole foods such as oranges and turmeric that are rich in antioxidants, and other natural foods that offer relief for the side effects of allergies.

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