Sunday, 16 June 2019

The Relationship Between Food Allergies and Junk Food

It is no secret that junk food is a prevalent component of many people’s diets. According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), as reported by TIME, about 40 percent of American adults reported that they eat junk food on any given day.
Unfortunately, a diet high in processed and “bad-for-you” foods doesn’t come without consequences. Researchers from the University of Naples Federico II analyzed data from a group of children aged 6 to 12, and concluded that there was a correlation between children who have food allergies and higher levels of advanced glycation end products (AGEs), compared to children without food allergies.


AGEs are harmful compounds that occur naturally in the body when proteins or fats combine with sugar in the bloodstream. AGEs can form outside of the body in foods—and diet is a leading contributor of AGEs. 
While the body has ways of eliminating AGEs naturally, through enzymes and antioxidants, if you have more AGEs than the body can process, the AGEs will pile up, which can lead to a number of health issues, such as inflammation, oxidative stress and the development of certain diseases such as kidney failure, diabetes and more.


Researchers split 61 children into three groups. The first group of children had food allergies the second had respiratory allergies and the third was the control group, and had no allergies.
Next, researchers tracked the groups of children, and monitored their eating habits and AGEs levels, finding that children with high AGEs levels ate significantly more junk food and had more food allergies.
“As of yet, existing hypotheses and models of food allergy do not adequately explain the dramatic increase observed in the last years—so dietary AGEs may be the missing link,” Roberto Berni Canani, the lead researcher said in a press release. “Our study certainly supports this hypothesis, we now need further research to confirm it. If this link is confirmed, it will strengthen the case for national governments to enhance public health interventions to restrict junk food consumption in children.”


Dr. Lakiea Wright, a physician in internal medicine and allergy and immunology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and the medical director at Thermo Fisher Scientific, told Healthline that many factors have contributed to the prevalence and rise of food allergies today. 
Dietary patterns are one such factor. Ditching the processed foods in favor of fruits and vegetables can help our gut microbiomes.
Additionally, our genes and our environment are also contributing factors. Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, MBE, FAAP, a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital and chief medical officer of Before Brands, told Healthline that one way to try and prevent allergies is to introduce a variety of foods into your diet as soon as possible.
“For babies at least, early introduction of a variety of foods appears to be the way forward,” Swanson said.

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