High-fiber diet could help prevent allergies
Scientists have long been searching for exactly what causes food allergies, but now recent studies point to the lack of fiber in the typical Western diet as a factor.
Researchers have found that fiber promotes the growth of a helpful gut bacteria called Clostridia. When this bacteria breaks down fiber in the gut, it produces fatty acid byproducts that help seal the gut linings, and that prevents food from leaking into the bloodstream. This is known as “leaky gut.” One study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that Clostridia implanted in the gut of peanut-allergen sensitive mice, could prevent the allergy. But Western diets, high in sugar, fat, and refined carbs, may help foster "leaky gut."
Between 1997 and 2011, food allergies reportedly increased by 50 percent among Americans. Up to 90 percent of the now 15 million Americans with allergies are affected by at least one of these eight foods: peanuts, tree nuts, wheat soy, eggs, milk, fish and shellfish. The reaction, researchers say, is caused when whole undigested parts of food leak into the gut and are released into the bloodstream. This prompts the body to send antibodies to attack the food, as an autoimmune defense.
Researchers acknowledge that lack of fiber isn’t the sole reason for the dramatic rise in food allergies. But they suggest that a high-fiber diet may be an effective way to combat allergies caused by diet and environmental factors, such as antibiotics.