Chances are, you or someone you know is one of 15 million Americans living with a food allergy. Luckily, researchers at New York University Medical Center have discovered a gut bacteria that will cure and potentially eliminate food allergies forever.
I was born with a severe peanut allergy that forces me to carry an Epipen (or epinephrine autoinjector) at all times. It is a nuisance, but carrying around a device that could save my life is a minor annoyance compared to the lifestyle adjustments that accompany food allergies. Traveling to Asian countries is dangerous for me because peanut oil and crushed peanuts are used in almost every traditional dish. I avoid Thai restaurants like the plague and always make sure food that I did not prepare is peanut-free.
Food allergies have increased by 50% in the United States since 1997. The increased use of antibiotics in modern society kills strains of bacteria, even healthy gut microbes. In addition, more and more Americans irrationally fear germs and live increasingly antimicrobial lifestyles, which has only increased their sensitivity and made them more prone to food allergies.
In the study, mice who were given antibiotics were more likely to develop peanut allergies than the control group. Afterwards, the mice with peanut allergies were given a bacteria strain called Clostridia. Suprisingly, their sensitization immediately disappeared. It appears that healthy gut bacteria prevented peanut proteins that caused allergic reactions from entering the bloodstream.
Although the development of allergy treatments for humans may take a while, the future is bright for people living with food allergies. Meanwhile, be respectful of people with food allergies and know how to deal with food allergy situations the right way.