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Children’s Food Allergies and Gut Bacteria Imbalances

Children’s food allergies can be some of the most frustrating and common problems parents face.

Although some 170 foods can cause reactions, most of the problems kids have — ranging from mild to severe and fatal — can be boiled down to eight.

  • Wheat
  • Shellfish
  • Soy
  • Tree nuts (pecans, pistachios)
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Peanuts
  • Milk

What’s more, 40 percent of kids with food allergies are allergic to more than one food, according to Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE).

And, if you’re wondering when or if a child “outgrows” a food allergy, often it depends on the food. Some food allergies begin to fade away by age 5 (wheat, milk, egg, soy) while others are much more persistent (tree nuts, seafood, peanuts).

In one very tragic case reported earlier this year, an 11-year-old boy allergic to fish died by exposure to fumes from cod cooking on a stove.

Food allergies aren’t the only health problems young children face, however. Many of today’s children are born via C-section, have fewer opportunities to breastfeed and are exposed to antibiotics.

All of these things deplete your child’s gut health, leading to a host of other problems, not to mention slowing down the development of his/her immune system.

You can add food allergies to that list of problems, based on recent studies. (But there may be some hope on the way!)

Butyrate strikes again!

The common link between both studies: Healthy kids have gut microbiomes that are very different from those with allergies, according to two recent studies appearing in Nature Medicine.

This research followed somewhat similar models in that both collected fecal samples from healthy children and those with allergies, then transplanted them in mice to observe how their bodies reacted.

In the study conducted by scientists at the University of Chicago and Italy, the bodies of germ-free mice receiving gut bacteria as fecal transplants from eight healthy babies or ones with a food allergy to cow’s milk (the most common food allergy) reacted as you’d expect.

Germ-free mice receiving food-allergic bacteria experienced anaphylaxis, a severe and possibly life-threatening reaction, after drinking cow’s milk for the first time, while those with healthy bacteria didn’t.

After digging deeper into the composition of gut bacteria among test animals, researchers identified the species Anaerostipes caccae that may protect the body from allergic reactions when present in the gut. This species is part of bigger class of bacteria (Clostridia) that has been found to protect the body from nut allergies.

This class of bacteria also produces butyrate, a substance already known for protecting the gut from inflammation and more harmful bacteria like Salmonella and E. coli.

Missing gut bacteria

A similar and more recent study conducted at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Boston Children’s Hospital also took fecal matter from babies with and without food allergies, then transplanted it into mice that were sensitive to eggs.

Again, the mice receiving healthy gut bacteria were more protected from allergies than the those that were given bacteria sensitive to eggs. But that’s not all…

With the help of detailed analyses, researchers developed a two probiotic mixes of multiple strains of beneficial human gut bacteria that successfully suppressed allergic reactions in mice already experiencing problems.

Could a response to a food allergy be reversed with probiotics? This is very possible, given a report I shared with you recently that found Moms who took a probiotic and fish oil delivered babies who were more protected from eczema and egg allergies.

There’s a lot you can do to protect your baby’s gut after she/he is born, even if natural childbirth isn’t in the cards, starting with breastfeeding, full of nutrition and the healthy microbes your young child needs.

However, if breastfeeding is an issue or your baby needs an antibiotic to fight a common infection, you can turn to EndoMune Jr. Advanced Probiotic Powder, an infant probiotic containing a blend of four building block strains of beneficial bacteria plus a prebiotic.

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