Thursday, March 27, 2014

Food Allergy- the ugly, the bad, the good....

Peanut, egg, milk, seafood are common culprits of food allergy.  Severe and deadly reactions drive schools to be nut free and to have anaphylaxis plans in place.  But why the increase?  Why the severity?  Are there potential treatments or even a way of curing food allergy?

What's the ugly, the bad and the good for food allergy?

The Ugly
  • Food allergies affect about 8% of children and 5% of adults
  • These numbers have risen from by more than 50% since 1999
  • Peanut allergy increased from 0.4% to 1.4% over the same time period
  • Every 3 minutes someone has an allergic reaction to food sending them to the emergency room
  • Having food allergies doesn't potentially cause just a severe allergic reaction, but is associated with bullying, increased anxiety, and a lower quality of life.
The Bad
  • Eight foods account for 90 % of all reactions: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish. Even trace amounts of a food allergen can cause a reaction.
  • Risk factors for developing food allergies include:  male, race, family history of allergy, low vitamin D levels, and food preparation.  
  • Bottom line though is we don't know what causes food allergy.  There is probably a complex interaction between genetics and the environment leading causing the increase.
The Good
  • Can you out grow food allergy?  
    • Yes, luckily milk, egg, wheat and soy allergy generally resolve with age!  Unfortunately peanut and tree nut allergy persist.
  • Is there a potential treatment for food allergy?
    • Yes!
    • Research and trials are being done on slow oral desensitization for milk, egg, and peanut allergy.
    • Results are promising so stay tuned for updates.
Do you have food allergies and need help? Call the office so we can formalize an individual plan for you 212-679-3574 or schedule an appointment here.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Why Should you Feed Your Gut? The Importance of the Microbiome

What is a Microbiome?

  • Did you know that our guts (intestines) are filled with over 100 trillion bacteria?  Each part of our bodies has specific types of bacteria peacefully living.   These bacteria are called our microbiome
  • The microbiome helps teach our immune system what's safe not safe.  In doing so, they modulate our immune response.  
  • Our guts provide the microbiome a safe place to live.  It's definitely a mutually beneficial relationship.
Where Does the Micrbiome Come From?
  • We are colonized very early in life with a bacteria that will be with us through our entire life.
  • Typical species of bacteria living in our gut are:
    •  Bacterioides species is the most abundant species
    • Lactobacillus, Peptococcus, and E. Coli  along with others are also present.
  • Which bacteria are the most important to our digestion and absorption of nutrients?  
    • Bifdobacteria and Lactic acid bacteria.
Can you Alter Your Microbiome?
  • Yes...The food we eat and medications we take can alter our microbiome.  
  • Antibiotics can have a negative effect on the microbiome and change the balance of bacteria living within us. This can cause problems with our digestion- gas, bloating, constipation and diarrhea
  • Foods we eat can change the microbiome- think active cultures in yogurts and probiotics 
  • Foods that bacteria like to eat and support their growth are called prebiotics. Important prebiotics are foods containing inulin and  trans-galactooligosaccharide.
  • Foods rich in these substances are Acaica gums, beans, and artichoke roots.  
Why is an Allergist Interested in the Microbiome?  
  • The microbiome helps teach our immune system what's safe and not safe.
  • More and more evidence suggests that changes with the microbiome can lead to allergic disease like food allergies, eczema and even asthma.
  • Stay tuned, the microbiome is an exciting area of research in allergy and immunology.
Have questions or need help with another allergic issue.  Call the office for a consultation 212-679-3574 or schedule an appointment here.