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The rate of food allergies has TRIPLED in 10 years – and scientists think the Western diet could be the trigger

  • Food allergies have seen a 377 percent spike in the last decade 
  • The ‘other specific foods’ category accounted for a third of all allergies leading experts to believe preservatives and sugars could be the cause
  • An analysis conducted by nonprofit FAIR Health extensively analyzed private health insurance claims between 2007 and 2016 to find the data 
  • A New York allergist said that the increase in peanut allergies may be due to people avoiding them at an early age in a failed attempt to decrease the risk

Kayla Brantley For Dailymail.com

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The rate of food allergies in the US has more than tripled in the last 10 years, according to research.

Scientists suggest the spike in allergies can be linked to genetics, environment and changes in food manufacturing.  

There has been an overall 377 percent surge in allergies reported in the last 10 years and the main foods triggering severe allergic reactions, called anaphylaxis, were peanuts which rose by 445 percent, and tree nuts and seeds which grew by 603 percent in that time.

But data showed that a third of allergies were triggered in the ‘other specific foods’ category where foods were unknown, leading researchers to believe that changes to what it is inside food or the Western diet may be a contributing factor.

Food allergies have seen a 377 percent spike in the past decade with 'other specific foods' accounting for a third of the spike, leading researchers to believe are changes in our foods 

Food allergies have seen a 377 percent spike in the past decade with ‘other specific foods’ accounting for a third of the spike, leading researchers to believe are changes in our foods 

An analysis conducted by nonprofit FAIR Health extensively analyzed private health insurance claims between 2007 and 2016.

The report revealed that those over the age of 18 accounted for more than one-third of allergy insurance claims and that the diagnoses were more prevalent in young boys than girls.

WHAT IS AN ALLERGY? 

An allergy is a condition in which the immune system reacts abnormally to a foreign substance including food, pollen or animals.

The immune system overreacts by producing antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE).

These antibodies travel to cells that release chemicals, causing a reaction. 

This reaction usually causes symptoms in the nose, lungs, throat, sinuses, ears, lining of the stomach or on the skin.

Serious life threatening allergic reactions are known as anaphylaxic, which can cause the allergen to close the throat. 

An injection of epinephrine, a chemical that narrows blood vessels and opens airways in the lungs, is used to treat anaphylaxis, usually administered through an EpiPen.

Dr James Baker, CEO of the nonprofit Food Allergy Research Education (FARE), told Allergic Living: ‘We think this shows definitive evidence for a dramatic rise in the number of severe, systemic and life-threatening food-allergic reactions that children and adults across the country experience every day.’

Previous studies have found that food allergies are more common in urban areas than in rural ones. 

However, food allergy diagnoses increased in both environments over the ten-year period, with the fastest growth in rural settings. 

Insurance claims with food allergy diagnoses were up 110 percent in rural communities, compared to 70 percent in urban regions.

‘People around the world, as incomes go up, choose more calories and meat in their diet,’ University of Minnesota professor David Tilman told CNN.

This is known as the Western diet, which is high in red meat, over-refined sugars, preservatives and calories found in junk food. 

The report also identified that food additives including preservatives, sweeteners and colors were more prevalent among women.

But New York allergist Dr Steven Schnipper told Daily Mail Online that the Western diet isn’t completely to blame for the rise of allergies.

‘Essentially there are a lot of factors that can contribute to an increase in allergies,’ he said. 

Dr Schnipper provided one big reason for the 445 percent spike in peanut allergies. 

He said that for many years people assumed that to avoid a peanut allergy you should avoid eating peanuts. 

‘Avoiding actually makes you more likely to be allergic to peanuts,’ he explained.

The American College of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology recommends introducing infants as young as four months to peanuts for exposure and to test if there is in fact an allergy present. 

Dr Schnipper also suggests the hygiene hypothesis could be a contribute to the spike.

The hygiene hypothesis is described as a lack of early childhood exposure to infectious bacteria and parasites which leave children more vulnerable to developing allergies by suppressing the natural development of the immune system.

Therefore, the body’s immune system becomes misdirected in a clean environment and instead of fighting pathogens, it ends up fighting allergens, Dr Schnipper said. 

But more research is needed to understand the onset and rise of allergies and to reverse the trend and prevent new cases.


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Article source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-5149469/The-rate-food-allergies-TRIPLED-10-years.html

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