Why Are Food Allergies On The Rise?

Food allergies are increasing. Recent surveys worldwide indicate them to be on the rise. This includes among both adults and children. In the United States, food allergies have becoming increasingly prevalent among children under children under 18 years of age. In fact, it is also the current fifth leading chronic disease in America for all age groups.

Food or Digestive Allergies

Since 1997, statistics indicate a rise in food allergies among American children and adults. Food allergies are the result of an autoimmune response to an allergen substance in food. Although generally harmless to the majority of the population, this same food causes a hypersensitive reaction within the autoimmune system. The result can be as mild as a small rash and as major as life-threatening anaphylaxis shock.

The triggers generally remain the same as they have over the past 20 years. Common food such as nuts, eggs and shellfish continue to dominate as allergens. Researchers and allergists are still trying to determine what is causing the spike in food allergies.

The Different Theories

A number of theories are being tossed about to explain the rise in food allergies. Below, you will find the most common ones. None of them have proven to be the definitive cause for this increase.

  • The Hygiene Hypothesis: This theory stresses the current lack of exposure of many American infants to bacteria and other microorganisms during their developing stages. Our world is dominated by the perception that the removal of all bacteria creates a healthy environment. We focus on an extreme version of hygiene. As a result, many of us grow up in a fairly sterile world without exposure to many different plants, animals and other types of organisms and microorganisms. Our guts lack the bacteria we may need to digest properly our food. In addition, one argument extends the argument further. It states that, because our body no longer has to fight off once common infections, it now turns inward, using the autoimmune system to defend itself against formerly non-starters like food
  • Food or Diet: This approach considers the culprit to lie with our diet. A Western diet of processed food with little exposure to other items may open the body to allergic reactions
  • Exposure Methods: The proliferation of certain ingredients in cosmetic products e.g. nuts and plants, may increase the potential of you developing an actual allergy to the material when ingested.

These are currently the major theories explaining the rise in food allergies over the past two decades. However, it is not yet possible to arrive at a singular conclusion. Only further in depth research in this area can provide us all with greater insight into what continues to be an intriguing and unanswered health problem.

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