Facebook Pixel

Food Allergies -- The Causes

Rate This

Recently, information on food allergies has spread across news outlets almost as quickly as their prevalence among Americans’ list of health problems. A Google.com search produces about 13,400,000 options for “Food Allergies” and every major newspaper seems to have a handful of articles discussing the condition.

Studies from federal and private groups confirm this rise among Americans, and in same cases, other countries. “From 1997 to 2007 the prevalence of reported food allergies increased 18% among children under the age of 18,” the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said.

Food allergies do not stem from certain practices among pregnant women or the frequency of breastfeeding infants. Nor are food allergies comparable to lactose intolerance or hay fever.
Food allergies solely originate through genetics, the International Food Information Council Foundation writes. Therefore, the increase in reported cases of food allergies is leading scientists to increase their study of antibodies that inhibit acceptance of certain foods.
A study sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease focuses on observations that reveal “biological markers and immunologic changes associated with the development of food allergies.” The results of this 5-year process could result in treatment that will lessen severity and the likelihood of reactions.
By definition, a food allergy sufferer’s DNA codes the creation of a “food specific antibody”. The antibody assists in immunity and therefore, identifies and attacks anything associated with that specific food as harmful. The attack felt by the sufferer, (hives, nausea and even anaphylactic shock) is the body’s response to a food that was identified in the person’s genes as harmful. In order to combat a reaction to a certain food, scientists need to define a method of inhibiting the release of that specific antibody.

Add a Comment5 Comments

Thank you, both for the article and for looking into this some more!

A lot of people in my family suffer from food allergies too...my father from some particularly inconvenient ones.

January 27, 2010 - 2:51pm


Like I said in our earlier correspondence- I'm SO going to look those things up! My siblings suffer from food allergies, and my sister is one of the most rare cases recorded in medical history- therefore, I realize after reading the first comment- I was a bit unclear on some aspects of food allergies.

Thank You :)

January 26, 2010 - 12:15pm

This sounds like propaganda to me. The International Food Information Council Foundation masquerades as an independent science-based non-profit, but it is essentially a puppet of the industrial agriculture business. It is aggressively pushing the (incorrect and unscientific) idea that allergies are caused solely by genetic factors because there is fear (and warranted fear) that commercial agriculture could be introducing toxins into the environment that could be one of the many factors contributing to allergies.

My grandfather, Alan Cazort, was one of the early allergists, and I also know a number of contemporary doctors and a few researchers in immunology who have all told me the same thing--that allergies, like most health problems, are caused by an interaction between genetic factors and environmental factors. The Wikipedia page on Allergy has a good section on causes that cites a number of studies. It's common sense and common knowledge, and backed solidly by science.

As the "tea person" I want to also mention that there is a lot of hype surrounding Rooibos (a South African plant used in herbal teas) as a treatment for allergy. There has not been a huge amount of research done on this plant, but so far, there is no evidence that it can treat allergy. However, there is some evidence that it can promote healthy immune system function, so it may show promise for preventing allergy. There is also some evidence that it is helpful for treating respiratory ailments such as asthma, so it may be a useful treatment for the symptoms of respiratory allergy. The page on Rooibos on RateTea.net has a few links to further scientific studies if anyone is interested.

January 26, 2010 - 11:31am

One of my close friends was had severe food allergies until her 20's. She seemed to simply grew out of them as she grew up. Is this common and how is this possible if food allergies are considered genetic?

January 26, 2010 - 8:43am
EmpowHER Guest

Nonsense. There is a large body of good research indicating that while genetics certainly can predispose a person to allergy, there are many factors that can trigger that propensity into full blown allergies. The first and perhaps most important is whether an infant is exclusively breastfeed for the first 4-6 months of life. It is not only that breastmilk is full of protective antibodies, but that it is full of substances that cause the infant's gut to mature & be less permeable. A permeable gut leads to sensitization. Formula feeding exposing an immature gut and immune system to huge (proportionately) amounts of a foreign protein (formula) and is well established in medical literature as increasing not only frequency but severity of allergic symptoms. We can't change our genes, but we can minimize allergies by exclusively breastfeeding for at least 6 months preferably longer.

January 25, 2010 - 7:16pm
Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy
Add a Comment

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

Food Allergies

Get Email Updates

Related Checklists

Food Allergies Guide


Have a question? We're here to help. Ask the Community.


Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!