Is it possible to eat your way to a food allergy cure? Scientists think it’s possible through the use of desensitization. Food allergies are on the rise. More public awareness and media attention have come as a result of increasing numbers. More people are realizing that allergies may play a role in their own or their children’s health.
New Flour May Treat Allergies
In the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers report the development of a new type of flour that someday could be used in food-based therapies to help people increase their tolerance to allergic food proteins, including the difficult-to-treat peanut allergy.
170 Foods That Can Cause Allergic Reactions
Peanuts can be the most dangerous of the 170 foods that cause allergic reactions. Reactions can range from mild itching and hives to life-threatening anaphylactic shock. Anaphylactic shock is characterized by its rapid response to the allergen and may cause extreme physical responses including the swelling and closure of the throat making it difficult or impossible to breathe.
Desensitization Is Kind of Like A Vaccine
Desensitization is an experimental treatment that has been tested in highly controlled environments. For this type of treatment very small quantities of the allergen are introduced to the person who is allergic. These minute quantities encourage the body to react in small ways and develop a tolerance to the offending allergen thus creating a beneficial, as opposed to the life-threatening, response.
Polyphenols To The Rescue
Mary Ann Lila and colleagues from the North Carolina State University’s Plants for Human Health Institute, turned to polyphenols as a source for dampening allergic responses in food. The scientists developed a modified flour powder in which cranberry polyphenols were bound to peanut proteins. With this new arrangement, the peanut-containing powder triggered the beneficial desensitization reactions without provoking harmful allergic responses in lab tests with mice. The new blend shows promise for a potential new treatment for peanut, and other food, allergies.