You are what you eat… and that applies to your allergies.
More and more research suggests that a more diverse gut microbiome is linked to fewer allergy symptoms. This is because gut microbiota is in charge of training the immune system from birth. If your microbiome lacks knowledge of a specific allergen or bacteria, your immune system may not be trained to react appropriately, resulting in allergy symptoms.
One theory for the increasing prevalence of asthma and allergies over the past few decades is less diverse microbiomes. This is mainly due to lack of exercise, less time spent outdoors, the use of antibiotics, and other effects of urban living over the past few decades.
When your immune system has not been exposed to a specific bacteria or substance, it can overreact to it when exposed, fearing that it may be harmful. Therefore, by encouraging a diverse microbiome in your child from birth, you can help prevent allergies from developing later in life.
Unfortunately, there are some factors in a child’s microbiome that cannot be controlled by the parent. Children born via C-section, for instance, have been found to have lower levels of some bacteria compared to babies born vaginally, which has been linked to a higher risk of allergic diseases and asthma. Breast milk also contains beneficial bacteria as well as a type of complex carbohydrate that contributes to a balanced microbiome.
Some steps you can take to increase exposure to microbes include:
- Having multiple siblings/more people in the household
- Living in a rural area, rather than an urban city
- Owning one or more pets
- Avoiding common causes of infections during pregnancy and infancy in order to avoid antibiotic use where possible
- Eating a high-fiber diet with ample probiotics, probiotics, or synbiotics
Research is underway to better understand this relationship but there is still a lot that is unknown.
We are conducting our own research to better understand allergies in general and are excited to leverage scientific breakthroughs as we expand our product offering.