Friday, June 20th, 2014
Kids (and adults) with severe allergies to peanuts could someday be able to enjoy the nuts, hope North Carolina-based researchers who are developing a process of treating peanuts to render them hypoallergenic. Reuters has more:
Researchers from North Carolina’s Agricultural and Technical State University have developed a patented process that reduces peanut allergens by up to 98 percent. Allergens are the substances that trigger allergic reactions. The new process reduces them by soaking de-shelled and roasted peanuts in a solution of food-grade enzymes.
The treated peanuts are made to look and taste like regular roasted peanuts, and they are not genetically modified.
“Treated peanuts can be used as whole peanuts, in pieces or as flour to make foods containing peanuts safer for many people who are allergic,” said lead researcher Jianmei Yu in a statement.
The treated peanuts could even be used in immunotherapy, under a doctor’s supervision, she added.
The process reduces two key peanut allergy triggers called Ara h 1 and Ara h 2. It reduces Ara h 1 to undetectable levels, and Ara h 2 by up to 98 percent. Human skin-prick trials were conducted at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to measure the effectiveness of the process.
Image: Peanuts, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, March 13th, 2014
Despite FDA warnings against drinking unpasteurized, “raw” milk, some parents continue to choose it for their families, citing a number of health claims including that it is a gentler alternative for lactose intolerant people. A new study published in the Annals of Family Medicine has found, however, that no such link with lactose intolerance exists. More from Time.com:
Only a small population of people drink unpasteurized milk, also known as “raw” milk, but its increasing popularity has some medical groups concerned. Some raw milk advocates argue that it’s healthier for us since raw milk contains no antibiotics or hormones, while others say it’s better for people with lactose allergies. For its part, the FDA advises against drinking raw milk, which can contain bacteria from fecal matter and sometimes be fatal, and has long stated that it doesn’t help with lactose intolerance.
But a new study published in the Annals of Family Medicine is definitively poking holes in the allergy theory, by reporting that lactose-intolerant people have the same symptoms from raw and pasteurized milk.
Advocates for raw milk claim that it contains good bacteria that can help with lactose absorption. “When I heard that claim it didn’t make sense to me because, regardless of the bacteria, raw milk and pasteurized milk have the same amount of lactose in them,” said study author Christopher Gardner, a professor of medicine at the Stanford Prevention Research Center in a statement. “But I liked the idea of taking this on since it seemed like a relatively straightforward and answerable question because the symptoms of lactose-intolerance are immediate.”
The study was small, with only 16 lactose-intolerant participants. All 16 tried three different types of milk–raw, pasteurized, and soy–over multiple eight-day periods.
For eight days, the participants were randomly assigned to one of the three milks, and they drank an increasing amount of that milk as the study period went on. They then reported their allergy symptoms, which were usually gas, diarrhea, and cramping, and rated them on a scale of 0 to 10. Their breaths were also measured for hydrogen, which can indicate undigested lactose in the colon and intolerance.
After the first eight days of drinking one type of milk, the participants took a week off where they drank no milk, and then started up again with another eight days of a different type of milk. To mask which type of milk participants were drinking, researchers randomized the order and added sugar-free vanilla syrup. Soy, which doesn’t contain lactose, acted as the control.
Researchers found no differences in the hydrogen breath tests between consuming pasteurized or unpasteurized milk. Participants also rated their symptom severity the same, regardless of the type of milk they drank.
Image: Milk, via Shutterstock
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Monday, February 3rd, 2014
Scientists are finding increasing evidence that exposure to peanuts might actually help lessen or eliminate peanut allergies in children who are already allergic. Time.com reports on a new British study in which children consumed increasing amounts of peanut flour as part of an experimental treatment:
Eighty percent of children who participated in an experimental treatment at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in the U.K. for six months were afterwards able to safely eat peanuts without a experiencing a reaction. The researchers at the hospital gave 99 kids between the ages 7 and 16 increasing doses of peanut flour mixed in with their food. Researchers slowly upped the amount of flour from 2 milligrams to 800 milligrams. At the end of the trial, the scientists reported that well over half of the children could eat five peanuts at a time without experiencing dangerous side effects.
The idea behind the therapy is that the children’s immune systems slowly build a tolerance to peanuts through consuming small amounts. The goal of the treatment is not to completely cure the children of their allergies, but to help them build a tolerance that will prevent them from having severe and life-threatening reactions if they come into contact with them. The researchers plan to test the same treatment in larger populations.
Health experts are not sure why, but food allergies are on a rise in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 4-6% of U.S. children have a food allergy. How food allergies develop is still being studied, but some guesses are that America’s high standard of sanitation is making us “too clean” and unable to build up immune systems that can fight common allergens from foods and the environment. It’s also possible that kids who don’t eat foods like peanuts and shellfish when they are younger may develop allergies to them.
For more information regarding what’s safe to eat and what’s not during pregnancy, download our Pregnancy Eating Guide.
Image: Peanut butter, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014
A Canadian mother is alleging that her daughter’s Catholic school is discriminating against her daughter by failing to accommodate her severe food allergy. More from The Huffington Post:
Lynne Glover recently filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario against Holy Name of Jesus Catholic School for allegedly discriminating against her daughter. The girl, Elodie, is severely allergic to dairy and eggs, and her mom says the school has failed to accommodate the child’s “disability,” according to Canadian outlet The Spec.
Glover pulled Elodie out of school earlier this year, but she wants the school to create an environment that would allow the 6-year-old to re-enroll, the outlet notes. Elodie has gone into anaphylactic shock nine times after being exposed to eggs and dairy.
“I want to ensure all children have access to a barrier free education, that anaphylaxis is more readily recognized as the disability it is. I would love to see board officials be required to undergo mandatory human rights training, there is a lack of understanding, compassion and empathy toward those with anaphylaxis,” Glover said, according to the outlet.
The mom has previously tried to work with the school’s board to create a safe environment for her daughter, but she says she does not think the school implemented enough precautions, CBC News reports.
A spokeswoman for the school board told the outlet she could not comment on the case. CBC News notes the board’s policy requires schools to take “every reasonable effort” to accommodate children with allergies, although it “cannot guarantee an allergen-free environment.”
The mother’s case seeks to ban dairy and egg products from the school, the National Post reports.
“They left me no choice but to file a claim to get them to the table because I wasn’t getting anywhere,” Glover told The National Post. “I’m not looking for a guaranteed allergy-free environment because I know it’s not possible. But reasonable accommodations that fall in line with our doctor’s diagnosis is just plain common sense.”
Image: School cafeteria tray, via Shutterstock
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Monday, December 30th, 2013
Women who regularly eat tree nuts or peanuts during pregnancy may be less likely to give birth to babies who later develop nut allergies, a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has found. More from CNN.com:
The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, is the first to demonstrate that a mother who eats nuts during pregnancy may help build up a baby’s tolerance to them after birth, its lead author, Dr. Michael Young, told CNN.
The effect seemed to be strongest in women who ate the most peanuts or tree nuts — five or more servings per week, according to the study, which controlled for factors such as family history of nut allergies and other dietary practices.
Peanut and tree nut allergies tend to overlap, according to the researchers.
Earlier studies indicated that nut consumption during pregnancy either didn’t have any effect or actually raised the risk of allergies in children.
However, the authors of the latest study say those studies were based on less reliable data and conflict with more recent research suggesting that early exposure to nuts can reduce the risk of developing allergies to them.
There is currently no formally recognized medical guidance for nut consumption during pregnancy or infancy.
Download our Food Allergy Action Plan.
Image: Pregnant woman eating nuts, via Shutterstock
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