Fiber Can Lessen Severity of Allergies
According to a study by Cell Press and published in Cell Reports, the development of food allergies in mice can be linked to what their gut bacteria are being fed. Rodents that received a diet with average calories, sugar, and fiber content had more severe peanut allergies than those that received a high-fiber diet. This was due to the gut bacteria releasing a specific fatty acid in response to fiber intake, which eventually impacts allergic responses via changes to the immune system, the researchers found.
“We felt that the increased incidence of food allergies in the past ten years had to relate4 back to our diet and our own microbiome rather than a lack of exposure to environmental microbes – the so-called ‘Hygiene Hypothesis’,” said one researcher. “Most researchers in this field look at excess fat as the problem, we were one of the first looking specifically at fiber deficiency in the gut.”
The gut bacteria are known to break down dietary fiber into their byproducts – primarily short-chain fatty acids. By binding to specific receptors on T regulatory cells, they promote the immune response and regulate inflammation in the gut – something that can be out of flux during an allergic reaction to food.
The study was conducted on mice who were given an artificially-induced peanut allergy and subsequently fed a high-fiber diet to produce a healthy population of gut bacteria. This was compared to a control group that had to gut microbes. Interestingly, despite not having consumed any fiber themselves, this second group of mice was protected against allergy, showing a less severe response when exposed to peanuts. In short, their microbiota was “reshaped” by having this transplant and they adapted to the fiber and its byproducts.
“My theory is that the beneficial bacteria that predominate under consumption of fiber promotes the development of regulatory T cells, which ensures the bacteria have a healthy, anti-inflammatory system to thrive in,” said one researcher.
Since this study was conducted on mice, more studies need to be conducted to see if it is viable for humans, but there is optimism.
Razi Berry, Founder and Publisher of Naturopathic Doctor News & Review (ndnr.com) and NaturalPath (thenatpath.com), has spent the last decade as a natural medicine advocate and marketing whiz. She has galvanized and supported the naturopathic community, bringing a higher quality of healthcare to millions of North Americans through her publications. A self-proclaimed health-food junkie and mother of two; she loves all things nature, is obsessed with organic gardening, growing fruit trees (not easy in Phoenix), laughing until she snorts, and homeschooling. She is a little bit crunchy and yes, that is her real name.