We’re still waiting for the day when headlines will announce that a cure for food allergies has been found. In the meantime, our newsfeeds are full of smaller stories about intriguing findings that might lead to a cure, and about potential treatments.
The best thing to do for food allergies is to avoid the allergen. But highly sensitive people can still have a reaction when they come into contact with trace amounts of an allergen. This heightened level of sensitivity makes label reading essential and cross-contamination a real threat.
Scientists are looking for ways to alleviate such sensitivity and to build tolerance among food allergy sufferers. That way, invisible traces of an allergen won’t be enough to trigger a reaction from the immune system. Oral Immunotherapy is just one promising treatment method. Another remedy that is getting a lot of buzz recently is using probiotics for food allergies. What’s it all about? Does it actually work?
The Idea Behind Taking Probiotics for Food Allergies
Taking probiotics for food allergies banks on the connection between healthy gut bacteria and immune system development. The human body is host to many different kinds of bacteria that actually help us digest food and maintain good immune system function. When this bacterial composition is not very diverse or is otherwise depleted, the immune system does not respond as it should.
Food allergies are just one example of immune system dysfunction. Probiotics are a supplement of live microbes meant to restore balance to the gut’s bacterial composition. The idea is that probiotics for food allergies may work by improving the immune system so that a small amount of an allergen does not cause such potentially violent reactions.
Do Probiotics for Food Allergies Actually Work?
Scientists have conducted myriad studies on the effect of probiotics on food allergies with mixed results. However, the studies have all been designed with significantly different variables, and it could be that certain types of probiotics work better than others, or that there is a specific population that receives the most benefit from probiotics.
What we do know is that probiotics seem to be especially useful in combatting food allergies that have eczema as a primary symptom.
Another study found that although the allergies could not be reversed, the incidence of anaphylaxis was significantly reduced when probiotics were given to mice who were bred to have shellfish sensitivity.
Where to Go From Here?
While scientists continue to investigate the usefulness of probiotics for food allergies, it’s wise to speak to your allergist about this possibility. If she is aware of the latest research, she may recommend a safe strain of probiotics that shows promise. Always check with your allergist before trying to use supplements to treat food allergies or any other condition!
Have you had any success using probiotics to lessen the severity of food allergy symptoms? Share your experiences below!