Researchers estimate there are 32 million people living with food allergies in the U.S. alone, including one in every 10 adults and one in every 13 children . Over half of the adults and over 40% of the children who have food allergies have reported experiencing a severe reaction, many of which required hospitalization. Rates of anaphylactic food reactions increased 377% between 2007 and 2016, and the problem is growing faster than the medical community can address it.
There’s no question that this is an epidemic.
Nobody knows for sure what is causing the food allergy epidemic, but it is generally believed that both genetic and environmental factors are to blame. Environmental factors occur on both a systemic and personal level. For example, we know that food allergies are more prevalent in Western countries and in more urban environments. Both of these are presumed to be more sanitary and sterile and have less diversity in bacterial strains.
On an individual level, the use of antibiotics at birth and in early childhood impacts the microbiome of the child. Other individual risk factors for food allergies include C-section births, not being breastfed, and the use of infant formula. Consumption of highly processed foods which are low in fiber and high in simple carbohydrates also adversely affect the gut microbiome. All of these factors influence what microorganisms a child is exposed to and, in genetically susceptible individuals, may cause sensitization to certain food proteins rather than tolerance.
The good news is that there are now effective treatments for food allergies. Click here to learn more