Probiotics, Dysbiosis and Food Allergies

I often get asked, “why do so many naturopathic doctors tell people they have food allergies?”  My simple answer is, there is an ever growing number of people who, for many different reasons, have become intolerant to certain families of food.  Elizabeth Landau from CNN has written a great article describing the rise in food allergies. Click here to read the article “Why Are Food Allegies On The Rise?”

She touches on the hygiene hypothesis – the idea that the cleaner our environments in our infancy, the greater likelihood that we go unexposed to certain bacteria that prompt our immune systems to become more adept at recognizing proteins in bugs to fight later in life rather than proteins found in foods, the environment, and in our own bodies (how autoimmune diseases are believed to develop).  This idea of over-hygiene lends itself to the medical concept, dysbiosis, which describes the unbalanced state of good bacteria in the gut responsible for two thirds of our immune system.  Elizabeth writes that “our immune system is skewed away from fighting infections, and toward fighting things that it’s not supposed to be fighting, like things in the environment or foods — that’s one thing that people think may be in play.”  Food allergy tests, elimination diets, and probiotics have become the mainstays of investigation and treatment of suspected food allergies.  These allergies are not often acute reactions to ingesting food.  They are more seen as persistent symptoms that can come on hours after eating an offending food making it difficult to discern the causative agent. Symptoms can be as vague as fatigue and cloudy thinking to more specific like a eczema rash on knuckles.  Getting the opinion of a qualified healthcare practitioner is the first step in determining whether dysbiosis due to food allergies may be at play with your health.

Dr. Bobby Parmar
Naturopathic Physician

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