Why are more and more people allergic to all kinds of foods

Suffering an allergy to certain types of food has a series of consequences for the life of those who suffer from it, not negligible. Even if it's only a small amount, The allergic person is exposed to symptoms ranging from itching, swelling of certain parts of the body or stomach pain. But there are much more serious effects on the body: anaphylaxis, the shock that occurs in certain organs after being in contact with what one is allergic to, it can lead to death if not treated promptly.

Dizziness, vomiting, decreased heart rate, and closing of the airways are some of the effects that can lead to this anaphylactic shock. The most surprising thing is that despite all the medical and scientific advances that have occurred in recent decades, more and more people suffer from some type of intolerance to certain foods or medications. And in addition, there are a greater number of them who suffer anaphylaxis. A large review of studies showed that there was an exponential growth of cases in the United States, Australia and Europe in the last decade.

"Before, people only had allergies to classic foods, such as shellfish, milk or nuts. Now, the range of products has expanded"

Why this large influx of cases? One of the theories being considered is that never before in history have we been so aware and knowledgeable about all kinds of food allergies. However, at the moment of truth there are many people who believe they have some type of allergy to a food when they do not, as reported in an interesting article from the 'BBC' on the subject. Further, the diagnostic process is long and difficult, as it needs to administer a small amount of food to the subject in a clinically safe environment and is time consuming.

"Food allergy rates have increased by around 3% among the entire world population since 1960, and in 2018 they reached 7%," he says. Kari Nadeau, an expert on the subject from Stanford University, to the British environment. But not only the number of patients has grown, but also the range of foods to which they are intolerant. "Formerly, decades ago, people only had allergies to classic foods, such as shellfish, milk or nuts," he says. Ben Embarek, who works for the WHO International Network of Food Safety Authorities. "Now, it has expanded to many more products."


One of the hypotheses being considered is that of "hygiene ", which comes to say that the more 'clean' we are, the more likely we are to contract some type of allergy. This idea came to the epidemiologist David strachan after studying that children with older siblings were less likely to suffer from hay fever or eczema on the skin. "Over the past century," he wrote in his 1989 book 'The Hygiene Hypothesis, "decreasing family size, better home conditions, and rising standards of personal hygiene have reduced the chance of cross-infection. between young families ".

"Both the shortage and the excess of vitamin D in the human body is problematic"

But many scientists do not agree with Strachan's theory, arguing that one of the most important things to protect against disease is precisely hygiene. Hence, there is recent research that supports theories that refer to the microbiota or bacteria that populate our intestine, since in some way these are in charge of "educate "the immune system so that when it is infected by a pathogen, it recognizes it and proceeds to eliminate it.

"The human microbiota is changing slowly," he says Graham Rook, an emeritus professor of microbiology at University College London. "Our modern houses, with their treated wood and plasterboard, for example, protect us from the microorganisms of yesteryear, which helped respond to our immune system. This is why, for example, the more antibiotics a child is given, the more likely they are to develop a food allergy, since at the end of the day these drugs destroy the healthy bacteria that populate our intestines.

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Another factor that the 'BBC' mentions is that we lack vitamin D from spending more time indoors than years ago. This vitamin plays a very important role in the development of immunoregulatory mechanisms. There are many studies that corroborate and deny this theory. Even the high amounts of vitamin D in the body make it more prevalent to develop some type of allergy. "Both the shortage and the excess of this substance is problematic," Nadeau concludes in his book.

Be that as it may, the rise in food allergies remains a mystery that worries scientists. At a time when there is also a pandemic such as the coronavirus, it is worth wondering if our body and the way we relate to the environment has changed so much that it is somehow more vulnerable or more predisposed to getting sick. If unfortunately you are a person who suffers from allergies, immunotherapy treatments give quite promising results. What's more, for many people this makes the difference between life and death.