Food Allergies in Kids on the Rise

What if after taking a bite of peanut butter and jelly sandwich or sipping a glass of milk you were vomiting, gasping for breath and/or desperately scratching hives? For some children with food allergies, that reality can be life threatening.

A food allergy is an abnormal response to a food triggered by the immune system. Just a few years ago, food allergies were rare. Today, up to eight percent of children have various chronic food allergies. Over the last 10 years, peanut allergy, alone, has tripled.

Tristan is surprised that his mom is waiting to start him on solids…to avoid food allergies.

Perhaps one explanation for the rise in peanut allergies is the use of soy products in formula. Soy and peanuts are both legumes. Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is one of the first signs of allergy during infancy and is said to be due to delayed development of the immune system. It affects between 10 to 20 percent of all babies. In infants, the first source of immune-building good bacteria comes from breast milk. To ensure a baby has the best start, breastfeed your baby exclusively for at least the first six months of life.

GMO vs. Real Food
The huge jump in childhood food allergies has been reported the news. But most reports fail to consider a link to a recent radical change in America’s diet. Beginning in 1996, bacteria, virus and other genes have been artificially inserted to the DNA of soy, corn, cottonseed and canola plants. In fact, 90 percent of processed food found in your grocers comes from Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO). These genetically modified foods are unlabeled and carry a risk of triggering allergic reactions. Corn and soy are two of the foods most likely to be genetically modified and often allergy triggers. When your child drinks a soda, he/she is drinking GMO high fructose corn syrup. When your baby is eating fruited yogurt, most likely he/she is eating GMO high fructose corn syrup.

Kids can be picky about food, but for kids with food allergies their diets are more limited. One of the most important steps to improve gut bacteria is to stop consuming sugary foods, especially High Fructose Corn Syrup. Eating a healthy diet low in sugars and processed foods is the first thing you can do to encourage the good bacteria to flourish. This will help to naturally build a defense against excessive amounts of bad bacteria. (Think of sugar as fertilizer for the bad bacteria which grows in your gut.)

Antibiotics vs. Probiotics
Antibiotics kill not only the bad bacteria, but all bacteria, including the good. Probiotics are live microorganisms, when ingested in proper amounts, are beneficial to the health of the intestinal tract.

Once your child has been on a round of antibiotics, as a matter of course, probiotics should be given to encourage the growth of good bacteria. Routinely, cattle are given antibiotics so even if your child has never been on antibiotics, they are ingesting antibiotics when they eat meat and drink milk. Studies have shown that daily supplements of probiotics and probiotic foods reduce the risk of eczema in children by 58 percent.

The good bacteria are constantly under assault from other factors as well as antibiotics.  Sugar, chlorinated water, pollution and antibacterial soap all affect the health of the intestinal tract. It’s a good idea to reseed your child’s body with good bacteria by taking a high-quality probiotic supplement. Probiotics made especially for infants and children can be found in your whole foods store, usually in the refrigerator case.

Outgrow Allergies vs. Grow Good Gut Bacteria
Don’t kids outgrow allergies? In fact, about 20 percent of kids with food allergies are said to outgrow them by age five. Perhaps children aren’t really outgrowing their allergies. Establishing healthy microflora in the gut involves taking in plenty of good bacteria, while discouraging the growth of bad varieties. Given enough time, some children are able to promote the growth of “good bacteria” in their guts, relieving food allergy symptoms.

Why not hurry the process along with probiotics? In adults and older children, you can also increase the body’s good bacteria by eating naturally fermented foods such as natto, yogurt and kefir (without added sugars) and unpasteurized naturally fermented sauerkraut (that is sauerkraut without added vinegar).

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is intended for educational purposes only. It’s not intended for medical advice or other professional services and shouldn’t be considered a substitute for the advice of your personal physician or other medical professional. If your child has a medical or behavioral problem, or you suspect that such a possibility exists, consult your health care provider.

One thought on “Food Allergies in Kids on the Rise

  1. Nonna Joann says:

    According to a paper presented on Jule 11, 2010 at the New York Academy of Sciences symposium, “Probiotics: From Bench to Market,” two probiotic strains significantly improved eczema (atopic dermatitis), which affects 17.2 percent of the U.S. population.

    The clinical study evaluated the impact of a mixture of two probiotics (Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis) on 90 preschool children (ages 1 to 3 years) with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis versus a placebo. They found the group taking probiotics nearly doubled the improvement from the placebo group in scoring of atopic dermatitis/eczema.

    Other outcome measures included a 33 percent increase in infant dermatitis quality of life and while the placebo group received 19 percent improvement.

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