Why Are Food Allergies on the Rise?

It feels like everyone you meet has some type of food allergies these days.

While this may be an exaggeration, science shows that food allergies do appear to be on the rise. According to the group Food Allergy Research and Education, or FARE, allergic food reactions among American children rose by 50% between 1997 and 2011. And while as many as 10% of Americans suffer from food allergies, research has indicated that only a third of children with food allergies have parents with them as well. Moreover, it’s not just children who are being affected by this increase. More Americans are developing allergies later in life as well.

Where are all these food allergies coming from? What’s causing them? Our Georgia allergists take a look at possible reasons why food allergies are on the rise, in addition to exploring how we may be able to curb this trend in the future.

Top Reasons Food Allergies Are on the Rise

  1. What We Eat: As Americans have increasingly eaten more processed food over the last century, many have blamed the so-called “Western diet” for modern increases in food allergies. One 2014 study found that the amount of fast food and other processed meals we eat has a direct affect on our immune system, making us more likely to develop allergies. Although more research is needed, we might as well add allergies now to the list of reasons why we should try to eat less processed food in the future.
  2. When We Eat: In the past, parents were frequently told not to feed their babies food that can cause allergic reactions. However, physicians are actually speculating that introducing foods which people are commonly allergic to early in a child’s life may actually help protect them from allergies later on, sort of like a vaccine. While you should still consult with your pediatrician before taking any definitive steps, it may be okay to let your baby try peanut putter after all.
  3. How We Clean: As far back as 1989, the “hygiene hypothesis” speculated that our increased focus on hygiene and cleanliness may create problems in strengthening our immune system. It’s the same reason some want to ban products like hand sanitizer. As per the last point, many believe that the hygiene we impose on our children from a young age actually inhibits their ability to develop their immune system, thereby contributing to the rise in food allergies, too.
  4. How We Our Born: An increase in C-sections nationwide has been linked to an increase in children’s allergies. Some believe this is because C-sections prevent children from being exposed to strengthening vaginal bacteria at birth.
  5. Our Access to Information: “In light of the panic around gluten and dairy in the last decade, it can almost seem like food allergies have become trendy,” writes Sarah Garone at Yahoo Lifestyle, continuing, “Could it be that there aren’t more actual allergies these days, just more awareness, media coverage, and public interest?” It is true that with the increased access to information modern technology allows, we know now more about medical conditions than ever before. While this has made us more conscious about what we eat as well as our health and wellness in general, it does seem possible that this has also caused some people to imagine allergies where there are none, or at least to intensify general discomfort into larger allergic symptoms.

More Care for More Allergies

At Center for Allergy and Asthma of Georgia, we recognize that a world of increased allergies requires a world of increased care. That’s why our board certified medical professionals provide testing and treatment for everything from food allergies to insect bites. Don’t go through life afraid of allergies, take steps to fight them, with Center for Allergy and Asthma of Georgie.

Our Georgie allergists are available by phone at (404) 994-3574, or you can contact us online. Same day appointments and Spanish-speaking services are available.