Allergies on the Increase
19 April 2018
The increase in allergies in todays society is due to a numbers of factors.
Some experts say that excessive cleanliness is responsible for an increased risk of developing allergies. There is no doubt that food allergies have increased over the past decade and there is a growing awareness around food allergies. According to Safe Food, 17 million of Europeans suffer from a food allergy!
A food allergy is when a person produces a range of symptoms, which can vary from mild itching to severe breathing difficulties and they usually appear straight after eating food.
The fist stage of the process is called sensitization when the immune system’s memory registers the eaten food as a threat to the body. Antibodies to that food are produced and at a subsequent encounter these antibodies connect with the foods proteins and trigger the release of certain substances in the body such as histamine. Allergen reactive T2 cells play a triggering role in the activation and /or recruitment of antibody producing B cells, a process that is involved in the allergic inflammation. This is attributed to certain genes and the modern urban lifestyle and food choices that we now have.
The theories behind this increase are speculative but include the following suggestions, Atmospheric pollution, great use of detergents and chemicals, sterile cleaning products, carpets, curtains, soft furnishings and central heating at home, overuse of antibiotics in infants and over processed food.
The new legislation called the Food Information for Consumers Regulation increases a growing awareness about food allergies.
So will people continue to become allergic due to their immune system being depleted. Time will tell us if this is the case.
Here are some interesting facts about food allergies in Ireland.
- 2-20% estimates of how common food intolerances are vary widely.
- Anywhere from 1-23 in every 10,000 people could be intolerant to food additives.
- 1 in 20 adults in Ireland are estimated to be lactose intolerant.
- 28% of the Irish population suffer from some type of allergy.
- 15% need to see a specialist over their condition.
- Food allergy is particularly common in children.
- 1 in 50 children have a life threatening nut allergy.
- 10% of children have more than 1 allergic disorder.
- Allergen prevalence has more than doubled in the last 20 years.
- 30-35% of Irish people suffer from some sort of allergy in their lives.