Links between gut microbiota & food allergies

Links between gut microbiota & food allergies

Is there any connection between gut microbiota & food allergies?

Kevin Meza Achahue, Scientist - R&D Specialist at Bifidice. 3 minutes reading.

What are allergies exactly?

Every time we come into contact with our environment, we are exposed to a large number of particles that are harmless to the vast majority of people. However, in some individuals, these molecules can cause reactions such as itching, swelling, difficulty breathing, or even severe cases of anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening. In these cases, these harmless molecules become allergens for those people, meaning the person becomes allergic to that substance. Allergies are exaggerated reactions of the immune system to allergens, resulting in symptoms such as those mentioned above.

Around 32 million people in the United States have a food allergy.

Unfortunately, allergy cases are increasing worldwide, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, as well as among children, adolescents, and young adults [1]. As of 2021, approximately 1 in 3 adults and over 1 in 4 children in the United States reported experiencing some form of allergy [2]. Specifically, around 32 million people in the United States have a food allergy [3], which means they are allergic to a specific allergen found in food.

Why is the gut microbiota so important for food allergies?

To date, there are options to address the symptoms of allergy exposure, including over-the-counter antihistamines or, in severe cases, epinephrine injections. The most effective way to prevent food allergies is to avoid exposure to the specific food antigen and eliminate it from the diet. Currently, one of the most significant experimental treatments is oral immunotherapy, which involves consuming or placing small amounts of the allergen under the tongue in a gradual and controlled manner [4]. However, have you ever wondered about the role of our microbiota in allergies?

Extensive research supports the impact of dysbiosis, which refers to an imbalance in the microbiota, in the development of such allergies

The condition of our intestinal microbiota, which refers to the microorganisms that inhabit and coexist in our gut, plays a crucial role in disease and allergy prevention. When it comes to food allergies, extensive research supports the impact of dysbiosis, which refers to an imbalance in the microbiota, in the development of such allergies. Furthermore, depending on factors like childbirth conditions, lactation, or early-life antibiotic usage, the diversity and abundance of microorganisms in the intestinal microbiota can vary, directly influencing the occurrence of food allergies [5].

Our “Bifi-help”

We aim to generate alternatives that can complement existing treatments for various diseases and allergies by utilizing anaerobic bacteria capable of effectively reaching and colonizing the intestine. These bacteria play a vital role in maintaining the balance of the intestinal microbiota.

While not directly related, our ingredient has shown the ability to reduce symptoms of lactose intolerance in clinical studies [6]. Additionally, preliminary tests indicate that integrating Bifidobacterium bifidum into ice cream may have up to 75% efficacy in reducing symptoms associated with food allergies, although further studies are needed to establish its positive effects in this regard.

Therefore, we are currently collaborating with the Josefina Martinez Hospital and research centers to gather more information on this subject. Our aim is not to treat, cure, or prevent allergies, but to provide an alternative that complements existing options, ultimately ensuring a better quality of life for all our consumers.

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References

[1] Pawankar, R. (2014). Allergic diseases and asthma: a global public health concern and a call to action. Pawankar World Allergy Organization Journal, 7(1), 12. Recuperado de http://www.waojournal.org/content/7/1/12

[2] CDC/National Center for Health Statistics. (2023). More Than a Quarter of U.S. Adults and Children Have at Least One Allergy. Recuperado de https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/nchs_press_releases/2022/20220126.html 

[3] Food Allergy Research & Education. (2023). Facts and Statistics. Recuperado de https://www.foodallergy.org/resources/facts-and-statistics 

[4] Mori, F., Barni, S., Liccioli, G., & Novembre, E. (2019). Oral Immunotherapy (OIT): A Personalized Medicine. Medicina (Kaunas), 55(10), 684. doi: 10.3390/medicina55100684.

[5] Rachid, R., & Chatila, T. A. (2016). The role of the gut microbiota in food allergy. Current Opinion in Pediatrics, 28(6), 748-753. doi: 10.1097/MOP.0000000000000427.

[6] Aguilera, G., Cárcamo, C., Soto-Alarcón, S., & Gotteland, M. (2021). Improvement in Lactose Tolerance in Hypolactasic Subjects Consuming Ice Creams with High or Low Concentrations of Bifidobacterium bifidum 900791. Foods, 10(10), 2468. doi: 10.3390/foods10102468.

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