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Using your gut bacteria to prevent (and treat) allergies

By Casey Thaler, B.A., NASM-CPT, FNS
September 6, 2020
Using your gut bacteria to prevent (and treat) allergies image

Millions of Americans suffer from some form of allergy. Millions more have conditions that worsen with certain environmental triggers.[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]

It's common for those with food allergies, for example, to take a drug to alleviate their symptoms—even if they are allergic to something as common as wheat. Fortunately, a recent study may represent a breakthrough for those who suffer from this very common condition. [7] [8]

Researchers have discovered a specific species of bacteria in the gut that helps to protect against food allergies. Scientists hope that by targeting this bacteria they may be able to eradicate food allergies before they start, or more effectively treat them. When you learn about the many conditions that are linked to disruptions in the microbiome, including depression and other mental health issues, it shouldn't be surprising that the microbiome is also linked to food allergies. [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20] [21]

Today, for those that suffer from severe food allergies, the best way to avoid a possible emergency room visit is to avoid inflammatory food entirely. [22] [23] [24] [25] [26] In this new study, researchers found that by giving subjects specific types of bacteria found in the gut, they were able to protect against food allergies—as well as reverse cases of established food allergies.

While this study was conducted on mice, the hope is that it will also translate to humans.

“This represents a sea change in our approach to therapeutics for food allergies," said study co-author, Lynn Bry, M.D., Ph.D. "We've identified the microbes that are associated with protection and ones that are associated with food allergies in patients. If we administer defined consortia representing the protective microbes as a therapeutic, not only can we prevent food allergies from happening, but we can reverse existing food allergies in preclinical models. With these microbes, we are resetting the immune system."

For millions of food allergy sufferers, this is a substantial scientific breakthrough. While there are hundreds of species of bacteria in our guts, Georg Gerber, M.D., Ph.D., and co-author of the study said they were able to use computational approaches to narrow the list to a specific group of microbes that are associated with protective properties against food allergies.

Assuming it translates to humans, this research provides promising evidence that we may be able to eliminate or at least reduce the effects of food allergies. And while we still recommend against consuming things like wheat or gluten—allergies or no allergies—for those who are violently allergic to them, accidental exposure would no longer provoke an immune response. [27] [28] [29] [30] [31] [32] [33] [34] [35]

In the meantime, as always, eating a true Paleo Diet® can help you avoid the adverse effects of many food allergies. By eliminating culprits like dairy, wheat, and processed foods from your diet—thus, avoiding many of the known trigger foods of a Western approach to eating—you are also eliminating the possibility of any allergic reaction, while reaping the full benefits of the key nutrients of a healthy diet. [36] [37] [38] [39] [40]


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