The work suggests that the significant changes in European diets over the past 20-40 years may have contributed to the increased incidence of allergic diseases in both children and adults seen over this period. Members of the nutrition work package responsible for the report consider that its findings are just the beginning of GA²LEN’s potential role in greater understanding of this complex area.
The prevalence of allergic diseases has increased dramatically over the past few decades, especially in children. One child in three is allergic today and one in two people in Europe are likely to be suffering from at least one allergy by 2015. It is generally agreed that a combination of heredity and environmental factors is responsible for the development of the allergy and asthma. However, the evolution of these diseases has been far too rapid for genetics to be the sole explanation. Among the wide range of environmental factors under discussion, changes in the European diet in the last 20-40 years are considered to be a possible explanation. Indeed, the way in which children are fed early in life may have a direct effect on the subsequent development of asthma and allergies, according to a recent publication from the Global Allergy and Asthma European Network (GA²LEN).
In a paper entitled “Nutrition and allergic disease”, published this year in Clinical and Experimental Allergy Reviews, 12 European experts working together in the GA²LEN nutrition work package present the evidence and define fertile topics for future research. The work package team is led by Professor Philip C Calder, Institute of Human Nutrition, University of Southampton.Key findings: breastfeeding, early diet and probiotics
Exclusive breastfeeding, that is providing the infant with no other liquid or food other than breast milk, is believed to be effective in reducing subsequent development of allergies. It appears that exclusive breastfeeding for four months helps protect the child from cow’s milk protein allergy until 18 months, reduces the likelihood of dermatitis (skin allergy) until three years, and reduces the risk of recurrent wheeze (or asthma) until six years’ of age. However, the longer term effects of breast feeding on allergic outcomes are not known and require investigation.
The protective effect of four months of exclusive breastfeeding is important for all children but it is especially valuable for those at high risk of developing allergies. Children are at high risk of developing allergies if one or both parents are affected by allergic disease. If it is not possible for the high-risk child to be breastfed, hypoallergenic formula combined with avoidance of solid foods for 4-6 months offers an alternative source of protection. The studies show that hypoallergenic formula helps prevent cows’ milk protein allergy developing before the age of five years and offers protection against atopic dermatitis (eczema or other skin allergy) until the age of four years.
A second major area of importance appears to be the components of the diet. For example, antioxidants in the diet, such as vitamin C, vitamin E and selenium coming mainly from fruit and vegetables, may have a protective effect. Furthermore, different fats found in milk, butter, vegetable oils and fish may have different effects on development of allergies and asthma. Although it is difficult to find clear-cut evidence, it appears that reducing sodium intake, increasing magnesium intake, eating apples and other fruit and vegetables, and avoiding margarine might help some asthmatics. However much of the research conducted to date has not been systematic in its approach and this makes the drawing of hard conclusions very difficult.
The role of probiotics and prebiotics in the diet is promising. Living organisms such as probiotics appear to protect against the development of allergies by producing changes in the bacteria in the gut that stimulate the immune system. A double blind, placebo-controlled study has recently shown that probiotics can help reduce the risk of atopic disease. This is an important area for future research.Meeting the challenge
Noélie Auvergne | alfa
A promising target for kidney fibrosis
21.04.2017 | Brigham and Women's Hospital
Stem cell transplants: activating signal paths may protect from graft-versus-host disease
20.04.2017 | Technische Universität München
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...
Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.
A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy