Junk food could trigger allergies – science.ORF.at

In Europe, the number of people with food allergies is constantly increasing. At the same time, the consumption of ready meals and junk food is increasing. There could be a direct link here, as a new study suggests.

Peanuts, soy, wheat and fish are among the foods that can be used to develop an allergy. If you take them for you, it starts to burn in your mouth, your throat is irritated and your tongue swells. It can also cause abdominal pain, cramps and diarrhea if you eat something you can not tolerate. And the number of people affected is increasing in Europe: in some European countries, up to 10% of the population is allergic to food.

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Bad eating habits

However, the causes of this increase are relatively poorly known to date. Excessive hygiene could be a cause, modifications of the microbiome – the beneficial bacterial community in the gut – another. The pediatrician Roberto Berni Canani and his team at the University of Naples have now studied another approach.

Their study, presented at the 52nd Annual Meeting of the European Society of Gastroenterology, Pediatric Hepatology and Nutrition, involved 61 children aged six to twelve, a group suffering from food allergies. Against soy or peanuts, a group of allergic asthma and a healthy group. First, the doctors recorded the eating habits of the children. "And it turned out that food-allergic children consumed a lot more prepared foods and junk food than others," says Canani.

Detectable in food and blood

Then the doctors did a blood test to measure the concentration of EFA in the child's body. AGEs, advanced products for glycation, are wastes that can be produced when food is heated and converted to a metabolite in the human body. In industrially processed foods and fast foods, such as burger chains, the concentration is particularly high.

"We found that children with food allergies also had very high AGE levels in their skin," Canani said. The pediatrician and his team then examined the EFAs in the laboratory: they were able to show that these chemical wastes could be modified and cross the protective mucus layer of the intestine. So, they enter the blood and the rest of the body.

Promotes inflammatory processes

Doctors have also been able to show that EFAs in the body stimulate inflammatory processes and lead to more and more allergic reactions. When the body of an allergic person comes into contact with certain foods, the immune system sends its antibodies completely free of charge and reacts as an infection. This causes an unpleasant allergic reaction, sometimes even threatening the vital prognosis.

The negative effects of EFAs could explain why more and more people are suffering from food allergies, says Canani. "Everywhere in the world, where there is a Western way of life, including industrially produced foods and junk food, we are seeing an increase in food allergies," says the doctor.

Required Regulations

He wishes to use the results of the study and other investigations to move the policy to action: it is becoming increasingly evident that a high consumption of foods from industrial manufacturing could have serious consequences for health. These range from food allergies to chronic bowel disease and colon cancer. European politicians must regulate here, according to Canani, especially with regard to child nutrition.

Marlene Nowotny, Ö1-Wissenschaft

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