Are food allergies the new fad or are they actually a rising problem? Everyday, a friend has a new allergy or the news announces another school has become peanut-free. Why is this? Are we, these days, just hearing about them more or is there an issue? Check out a recent HealthStatus video How Do I Know if I Have an Allergy? to learn more!
According to the CDC, 15 million people are affected by food allergies today. But what are allergies? They are an overreaction to our immune system. When allergic foods enter someone’s body, the food proteins are seen as foreign invaders, which leads to and causes rashes, hives, troubled breathing, and even more serious consequences if not treated immediately.
Dr. Sami Bahna, M.D., Dr.PH., is a professor and the Chief of Allergy and Immunology at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in Shreveport, Louisiana. He believes that allergies are on the rise for three reasons:
- “Hygienic Hypothesis”
When it comes to developed countries, allergies are more common than non-developed countries. This, he believes, is because of our thorough cleaning tendencies. We clean and anti-bacterialize everything before it touches our hands! Because of that, our immune systems are more noticeable of foreign bacteria and attack them.
- Overuse of Medications
When it comes to stomach problems and issues, people have a tendency to overmedicate instead of just waiting it out and seeing if they get better. Some medications can reduce stomach acid and the proper digestion the body needs for certain proteins. Stomach acid is needed to reduce allergenicity of certain food proteins, thus food allergies are rising.
- No More Seasonal Food
Due to our ability to transport foods from around the world at rapid speeds, you can now get any type of food you want at any time of the year. There are no more seasonal growing periods and these unusual combinations of foods can set off allergic reactions.
Due to these three things, food allergies can certainly be rising.