A Word from the Peanut Gallery

It seems as if supermarkets have more allergen-free products these days. In fact, it seems as if the general population is more aware of food allergies than they were 10 years ago. Is it because of a rise in food allergies?
 
An article from CNN states that food allergies have in fact spiked in the general population since the late 1990s. According to a study done on children in Burkina Faso versus children in Italy, the kids in Burkina Faso were less likely to develop food allergies because their diet was more similar to “the caveman diet,” one that is more vegetable-centric. On the other hand, kids in Italy were eating more processed, high-calorie and high-fat foods. 
 
So…does that mean that eating Lunchables are a surefire way to develop a peanut allergy? Not necessarily. 
Having a variety of foods in your diet allows your stomach to produce more good bacteria; less diversity in this bacteria makes you unable to process certain foods, thus creating an anaphylactic reaction. Many believe this to be part of the “hygiene hypothesis,” the belief that kids are just growing up in areas that are too darn clean. It is not enough of a hypothesis to make every parent turn their household into a barn, but it is a theory – proven correct so many times that the CDC is now considering banning triclosan from products (the “antibacterial” agent in “antibacterial soap”).
 
I spent the first 14 years of my life with allergies to dairy, peanuts, tree nuts and chocolate – amongst other random food allergies (yes, birthday parties were SO FUN for me). Lisa Nickerson, Principal of Nickerson PR, also has a severe peanut allergy.
I was lucky enough to outgrow my allergies, for reasons that doctors still are not quite sure about. Is it because I diversified my diet? Although I’ll never know for sure, it is enough to keep me eating the way I do today. Who knows? Maybe an apple a day really does keep the doctor away.
by Jenn Kearney
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