Causes of allergy and intolerance

Please click on the links below to read our articles. If you are interested in research findings, click here for links to research reports.

Food families relevant in allergy. A helpful post on the Allergy Insight blog listing plant and fish food families. If you are allergic to one member of a family there is a greater likelihood that you may react to any food in that family - although you also may not. However, if you are unable to trace the cause of a new reaction, looking at the food family of your main allergen/s may come up with a link. August 2020

Allergens in toothpaste. A short post on the Allergy Insight blog about possible allergens in toothpastes. Toothpaste is classed as a cosmetic, not a food so does not have to declare food allergens other than in an INCI/Latin format. April 2019

Scratching the Skin Primes the Gut for Allergic Reactions to Food. Very interesting study suggesting that scratching the skin may trigger a series of immune responses culminating in an increased number of activated mast cells—immune cells involved in allergic reactions—in the small intestine. April 2019

Toxicant-induced Loss of Tolerance or TILT. Dr Claudia Miller at the University of Texas commented on a about oat and corn sensitivity with some information about the work that her group does with those who develop multi-system sensitivities, inlcuding food sensitivities, after being exposed to a major pollution event. January 2018

Allergy and Cross-reactivity – a new book by Sue Killian. 'An entirely new way of dealing with hypersensitivities of all sorts.' November 2017

Could man-made enzymes be the missing link in the allergy epidemic? Peter Alderman and Dr Thomas Bohner think that they could. Michelle Berriedale-Johnson elucidates. October 2017

Thinny Skinnies – Leaky skin: the cause of dermatitis, eczema and skin allergies? Micki Rose revises her excellent 2009 article looking at recent research and suggesting how you might deal with the problem. April 2017

Why the hygeine hypothesis is not the answer to allergies. Interesting article on the rise and fall of the hygeine hypothesis by Wiliam Parker, Associate Professor of Surgery, Duke University on The Conversation. Janury 2016

Plant cross reactivity and its fallout for allergy sufferers. Environmental biologist Sue Killian describes how so many of our plants are inter-related, not only with each other but with many of the foods that we eat. January 2016

Canadian researchers develop inhibitor peptide (STAT6-IP) which they hope will inhibit the action of the molecule STAT6 which is important in the sensitisation of the immune sytem to allergens. They hope it will direct the immune system away from the allergic response, no matter what the allergen. Research here; comment here. May 2015

Could the lack of fibre in modern diets be significant in the rise in allergic disease? March 2015

Allergy and Asthma Portal (AAP) – an online database and search engine developed to help uncover key risk factors in the development of asthma and allergies. October 2014

The Leaky Gut – Dr Janice Joneja. Part of a longer article on autism but relevant also to allergy and intolerance. November 2014

Interesting interview with Dr Robert Wood on the incidence of food allergies among inner city children. Septemebr 2014

Microbial Exposure and Onset of Allergic Diseases - Potential Prevention Strategies? May 2014

The Role of Epigenetics in the Development of Allergies by Marianne Marcheses ND in the Townsend Letter. May 2014

Why do allergies wax and wane with age? Interesting speculation by Brian Palmer on April 2014

Could ‘toxicant-induced loss-of tolerance', or TILT, resulting for 70 years of exposure to powerful yet untested-for-safety chemicals explain the 50% rise in allergies between 1997 and 2011? November 2013

Lack of breastfeeding is a key factor in autoimmune & allergy pandemic – Dr William Parker. September 2013

Priming the Gut: the Role of the Colonic Microflora in Food Allergy and Intolerance. Christine Edwards, Professor of Nutritional Physiology at the University of Glas Part of the annual Nutrition and Health Live event – November 2013

Food allergies in first 12 months after birth "programmed" at fetal stage. Discussions from the EAACI meeting in June 2013

Lyme disease appears to spark red-meat allergies. June 2013

Deficiency in the skin protein filaggrin may weaken skin barrier allowing microspcopic amounts of allergen such as milk, wheat, egg or fish to penetrate through the skin and influence the development of allergy. May 2013

New Zealand researchers identify a unique type of immune cell in the skin which appears to trigger allergy, initially in the skin as allergic eczema which can progress on to food and respiratory allergy. April 2013

Food allergy: an enigmatic epidemic. M. Cecilia Berin and Hugh A. Sampson, Jaffe Food Allergy Institute, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York  May 2013

Mucosal Immunology of Food Allergy - A Review. Emerging evidence points to dietary factors and the microbiome as important modifiers of the mucosal immune environment, with a potential role in the development of inappropriate allergic sensitization to foods. May 2013

Allergy and inflammation. Lengthy investigation on the Dr Mercola site into inflammatory conditions, including allergy, all of which are thought to originate in the gut. March 2013

Strong association found between fast food and childhood asthma and allergies in massive new study of 400,000 children from 51 countries. The findings were consisitent  across rich and poor countries and in both boys and girls. Research here; comment here. January 2013

Could the global decline in biodiversity and the rise of inflammatory diseases be linked? If the former is causing the latter, it presents a serious challenge for public health. November 2011

BSEM – Scientific conference in memory of the late Dr David Freed: Novelties and Controversies in Allergy and Hypersensitivity. July 2012

Barrier Breakdown: The Cause of Multiple Sensitivity? Nutritionist Micki Rose explains her theories about barrier breakdown in multiple sensitivity and how she believes the barriers can be repaired. June 2012

Xanthan gum – could it be a problem for food allergics and coeliacs? Michelle Berriedale-Johnson investigates. June 2012

The hapten hypothesis of atopic disease - from an article in Skin & Allergy News. October 2010

Ear infections – the food allergy connection. Courtesy of Latitudes. September 2010

Genetically modified soya beans may cause allergy. September 2010

SIgA Testing and Treatment. Nutritionist Micki Rose follows up Dr Albert Robbins recent SIgA article (see below) with some practical advice. September 2010

Food Allergy and IgA deficiency. Dr Albert Robbins, an allergist and environmental physician, looks at IgA deficiency in the context of food allergy and neurological conditions such as Tourette syndrome and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). August 2010

Clinical Guidelines for the avoidance of Allergy in Germany. 2009

Horizon allergy report: For those who did not see it, a report on the Horizon programme on allergies. by Micki Rose. 2009

Food Allergy: Science and Clinical practice: Report on a conference organised by the Allergy Research Foundation, by Cressida Langlands. 2009

Enzymes, the hidden extras: some enzymes used in industrial food production can be allergenic. Report by Ian Tokelove. 2008

Allergic to the smell of food: Sinnet Morch's story of reacting violently to the strong smells of foods. 2007

Idiopathic allergy: explaining what idiopathic anaphylaxis actually means, and what to do when diagnosed, by Dr Harry Morrow Brown. 2007

IgG and gastrointestinal disorders: Dr Anton Emmanuel outlines research into the possible role of food hypersensitivity as a cause of gastrointestinal diseases. 2007

Is your immune system confused? An exploration into how emotions and acquired habits might cause immune reactions, and how a little examination of one’s allergy and its origins might relieve the condition, by Rob Mesrie. 2007

Individual reactions for treatments: addressing the complicated question of individuality in allergic reaction. James Mallinson reports. 2006

Research Reports

Signatures in the gut microbiota of Japanese infants who developed food allergies in early childhood. Aug 2017

There has been much interest in the role that the bacteria living in the gut (microbiota) might play in the development and potential treatment of food allergies. This study identified some interesting differences in the gut bacteria of infants who developed food allergies to those who did not. This warrants further investigation to understand more about the differences and potential causality of the relationship.

The Role of Nutritional Aspects in Food Allergy: Prevention and Management. August 2017
This review looks at the changing nature of our understanding of the role of nutrition in the prevention of food allergy: moving from advice of early avoidance of allergens to inclusion of a diverse range of foods early in life. The important roles that essential fatty acids, zinc and vitamin D and pre and pro-biotics may play are also considered.

Anti-allergic activity of glycyrrhizic acid (the sweet tasting constutent of liqurice root) on IgE-mediated allergic reaction by regulation of allergy-related immune cells. August 2017
This study, in mice, suggests that glycyrrhizic acid may serve as an effective anti-allergic agent to prevent and treat IgE-mediated allergic reaction.

Human Milk and Allergic Diseases: An Unsolved Puzzle. August 2017
This review looks at the association between breastfeeding and allergy development. Existing evidence suggests that modulation of human breast milk composition has potential for preventing allergic diseases in early life.

Correlation between serum vitamin D status and immunological changes in children affected by gastrointestinal food allergy. July 2017
Another study which looks at the link between vitamin D and food allergy. Lower levels of vitamin D in children were found to be associated with stronger immune responses to food allergens. This is an association study, so we cannot know whether vitamin D levels lead to changes in immune response, vice versa or that they are both mediated by some other independent factor. However, this evidence that an association exists is extremely interesting and is a promising avenue for more research to explore whether vitamin D could play a therapeutic role in children with food allergies.

Clostridium difficile colonization and/or infection during infancy and the risk of childhood allergic diseases. May 2017
This study reports that infants found to have the microbe Clostridium difficile present in their stool samples were at a higher risk of developing allergic diseases, including food allergies in early childhood.

Regulatory T Cells in Allergy and Asthma May 2017
This interesting review article considers the role of Regulatory T cells in food allergy and immunity.

Genetic variation at the Th2 immune gene IL13 is associated with IgE-mediated paediatric food allergy. April 2017
This study is the first to show that variations in a particular gene, the Th2 immune gene IL13, are associated with IgE mediated food allergies. This helps us to understand more about the mechanisms that may underpin food allergies.

Update on Timing and Source of 'Allergenic' Foods. March 2017
This interesting paper discusses research looking at the early introduction of allergenic foods, stating that there is no need to delay this. However, they also importantly note that some infants are sensitised foods even before any solid is introduced.

Detection of major food allergens in amniotic fluid: initial allergenic encounter during pregnancy. November 2016
It was previously been thought that early sensitisation to food in infants occurs through ingestion of food particles in the mother’s breastmilk. However, this study found that food allergens are also present in amniotic fluid, suggesting a different (and earlier) mechanism by which infants may become sensitised.

Delivery by Caesarean section predisposes to development of food allergy but not atopic dermatitis in early childhood. February 2016

Current evidence summarised which shows that human mast cells play a central role at the GI barrier, both in health and disease. Febraury 2016

Could the food we eat affect our genes? Study in yeast suggests this may be the case. February 2016

Scientists find evidence for congenital food allergies in umbilical cord blood. January 2016

Food allergies developing after solid organ (liver, heart, lung, kidney, and intestinal) transplant. December 2015

Childbirth and consequent atopic disease: emerging evidence on epigenetic effects based on the hygiene and EPIIC (Epigenetic Impact of Childbirth) hypotheses. January 2016

The Role of Helminth Infection and Environment in the Development of Allergy: A Prospective Study of Newly-Arrived Ethiopian Immigrants in Israel. The increased allergy among immigrants one year after immigration may reflect the combined influence of the decreased helminth load as well asnovel environmental factors. January 2016

Current overview of allergens of plant pathogenesis related protein families. February 2014

Season of birth shapes neonatal immune function. October 2015

Dietary vegetable oils rich in n-6 PUFA may enhance the susceptibility to develop or sustain food allergy. August 2015

Significant clinical differences found between children with monosensitization and those with polysensitization to common food allergens. September 2015

New research suggests that, in allergy the immune system mistakes the proteins in environmental allergens (such as foods or pollen) for those in parastic worms which it is programmed to attack. Reseach here; comment here. October 2015

Second hand tobacco smoke exposure in infancy appears to increase the risk of sensitization to food allergens as well as eczema up to age 16 years. October 2015

Review of the human gastrointestinal microbiome, focusing on the theory and evidence for its role in the development of IgE-mediated food allergy and other allergic diseases. September 2015

Review of Environmental Impact on the Epigenetic Regulation of Atopic Diseases. June 2015

Primary prevention of allergy: will it soon become a reality? Three interventions discussed. October 2015

Maternal diet and its influence on the development of allergic disease. January 2015

Carrageenan, which causes both raised blood sugar levels and inflammation in animals, is found in sufficient quantities in most western diets to cause similar resuls in humans. September 2015

In a small, preliminary study, infants in households with furry pets were found to share some of the animals’ gut bacteria - possibly explaining why early animal exposure may protect against some allergies. September 2015

Key enzyme, A20, helps country kids ward off allergies and asthma. September 2015

Researchers successfully establish a causal relationship between exposure to so-called farm dust and protection against asthma and allergies. September 2015

Susceptibility to allergies reduced by increased production of regulatory T cells. September 2015

Allergy Therapeutics use a novel proteomic approach to understand the molecular fingerprint underpinning the causative agents of leading causes of allergy. August 2015

Carboxymethylcellulose and polysorbate-80- induced gut microbiota alteration and gut barrier dysfunction in mice, resulting in weight gain, low-grade inflammation, and metabolic disorders. August 2015

Recent studies on correlations between food allergies and intestinal barrier functions. April 2015

Low vitamin D-binding protein levels increase risk for food allergy. August 2015

The chances of having a food allergy are significantly higher if you were born in the autumn or winter. July 2015

A summary of recent data on the epidemiologic link between sunlight (UVB) and food allergy, and evidence for and against a specific role for vitamin D status. August 2015

Increased intake of vegetable oil rich in n-6 PUFA enhances allergic symptoms and prevents oral tolerance induction in whey-allergic mice. July 2015

The association between primary IgE sensitization with respiratory symptoms to inhaled allergens and food allergy due to cross-reactive allergen components is important to assess in allergy practice. The use of molecular-based diagnosis improves the understanding of clinically relevant IgE sensitization to cross-reactive allergen components from aeroallergen sources and foods. June 2015

Exposure to traffic-related air pollution in the first year of life increases the risk of developing allergies to food, mould, pets and pests. May 2014

More evidence that antibiotics in infancy change gut bacteria and increase the likelihood of infectious diseases, allergies and autoimmune disorders in later life. May 2015

Molecular mimicry as a mechanism for food immune reactivities and autoimmunity. The mucosal immune system is constantly exposed to challenges from the antigenic substances found in food and released from the body's own microbial flora. The body's normal tolerance to friendly antigenic substances can be disrupted by disease, injury, shock, trauma, surgery, drugs, blood transfusion, environmental triggers, etc. When this happens, the ingestion of foods containing antigenic substances that have compositions similar to those of the body's autoantigens can result in the production of antibodies that react not only against the food antigens but also the body's own tissues. This response is known as food autoimmune reactivity. Professor Aristo Vojdani 2015

Oral tolerance and its relationship to food immunoreactivities. Professsor Vojdani describes the (1) importance of oral tolerance in maintaining homeostasis against bacterial toxins and food antigens; (2) way in which antigen-presenting cells (APCs), through their collaboration with effector T (TEFF) cells, T-helper (TH) cells, and regulatory T (TREG) cells, regulate the immune system to induce anergy or immune suppression; (3) the importance of various factors in the induction of oral tolerance and the consequences of its breakdown; and (4) the reasons why a disruption of oral tolerance to food antigens and bacterial toxins can result in autoimmunity. 2015

Sensitization to a food allergen is increased in mice that have been treated with antibiotics or are devoid of a commensal microbiota. September 2014

The composition of gut microbiota does not seem to be significantly different between atopic and healthy children, but lower abundance and prevalence of Akkermansia indicate that this bacterium may accompany or play a role in IgE-mediated atopic diseases. April 2015

Food allergens affect the intestinal tight junction permeability in inducing intestinal food allergy in rats. December 2014

Could prenatal stress affect the microbiota of the infant? January 2015

Could prenatal and postnatal supplementation of bifidobacteria be effective in primary preventing allergic diseases? July 2014

Review of Caesarean section and chronic immune disorders suggests that while C Section delivery increased the risk for asthma, systemic connective tissue disorders, juvenile arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, immune deficiencies, and leukemia there ws no assocatioation with type 1 diabetes, psoriasis, or celiac disease. October 2014

The gut microbiota and its role in the development of allergic disease: a wider perspective. December 2014

New studies suggest that estrogen may enhance the levels and activity of an enzyme that drives life-threatening allergic reactions – in mice. The study results may help explain why women frequently experience more severe allergic reactions compared to men. December 2014

Delivery mode (vaginal/caesarean) alters newborn's bacterial exposure and may suppress inflammatory response. December 2014 and
Delivery mode also affects the microbiota of the mother's milk. December 2014

Profilins are complete food allergens in food-allergic patient populations that are exposed to high levels of grass pollen. Observed reactions suggest that intake through the oral mucosa might constitute a relevant route of exposure to food allergens. October 2014

Food allergy related to specific primary immunodeficiency diseases. December 2014

Intestinal permeability - a new target for disease prevention and therapy. Review summarising the data that are accumulating emphasizing the important role of the intestinal barrier and intestinal permeability for health and disease. Stephan Bischoff and colleagues in BMC Gastroenterology. November 2014

Children up to 2 years of age with early-onset or severe atopic dermatitis/eczema are at higher risk of food allergy. January 2014

How microbial exposures can be associated with allergic immune responses. January 2014

Alterations in the gut microbiota composition are associated with food allergy. October 2014

Both active and passive smoking associated with a modest risk of increase in allergic disease, including food allergy, in children. March 2014

Review of recent findings regarding the importance of the microbiome/microbiota in the development of allergic diseases. October 2014

Epigenetics and development of food allergy (FA) in early childhood. September 2014

Environmental factors that play a role in the susceptibility/protection towards immune-mediated diseases beginning to shape the neonatal immunity in utero and direct the maturation in accordance with the surrounding microbial milieu. September 2014

CGRP, a neurotransmitter of enteric sensory neurons, contributes to the
development of food allergy due to the augmentation of microtubule reorganization
in mucosal mast cells. June 2014

Breast feeding may not protect against food allergy but is associated with other health outcomes, including lower rates of ear, throat, and sinus infections and dietary habits that may have long-term health consequences. September 2014

Some antibiotics in early life may alter immunity long-term. August 2014

Clostridium bacteria may protect against food allergies. August 2014

Perinatal (immediately before and after birth) exposure to Bisphenal A (widely used in plastic including babies' bottles but claimed to be harmless although there have been concerns about its use for some years) coud increase the risk of developing food intolerance in adulthood. August 2014

Exposure to food allergens through inflamed skin promotes intestinal food allergy through the thymic stromal lymphopoietin-basophil axis. May 2014

Food allergens found in mattress dust may be an important source of allergen exposure. January 2014

Helminthic therapy and pregnancy with reference to the possibility of preventing allergy/autism in the child - an overview of the research on John Scott's blog. April 2014

More research suggests that children brought up on dairy farms have much lower incidence of allergy. June 2014

Increasing evidence suggests that perturbations in the intestinal microbiota composition of infants are implicated in the pathogenesis of food allergy. April 2014

A case for antibiotic perturbation of the microbiota leading to allergy development. November 2013

The Impact of Family History of Allergy on Risk of Food Allergy: A Population-Based Study of Infants. June 2014

Newborns exposed to dirt, dander, germs may have lower allergy, asthma risk. Benefits not found for older children. June 2014

Food allergy can be triggered by application of the food to broken skin. April 2014

If early microbial colonisation is delayed in mice, the gut associated lymphoid tissues (GALT) fail to develop, leading to persistent immune dysregulation. April 2014

Allergy and immune disorders can result from mutations in gene involved in sugar metabolism. March 2014

Children treated with gastric reflux drugs (GAS) more likely to develop food allergies. September 2013

Stress can worsen allergy symptoms. April 2014

Use of paracetamol in early life is a strong risk factor for allergic disease in childhood. April 2014

Antibiotic treatment induces gut fungal overgrowth which promotes allergic airway inflammation. January 2014

Evidence for a causal link between birth mode/birth order and allergy risk, via modulation of the microbiota composition. January 2014

Atopic dermatitis and disease severity are the main risk factors for food sensitization in exclusively breastfed infants. February 2014

Altered fecal microbiota composition associated with food allergy in infants. February 2014

Study suggests link between high vitamin D levels at pregnancy and pediatric allergy. 2013

The potential link between gut microbiota and IgE-mediated food allergy in early life. December 2013

Gender relevant in prevalence of allergy. November 2013

of treatment with antacid medication is associated with an increased prevalence of food allergy. May 2013

Endocrine disruptors found in food contaminants enhance allergic sensitization through an oxidative stress that promotes the development of allergic airway inflammation. September 2013

Hapten-chemical-atopy hypothesis III: the potential role of airborne chemicals. August 2013

Parental fat consumption can leave a "lard legacy" impacting their offspring’s microbiota and immunity. September 2013

Chronic worm infection in pregnant mothers appears to protect the child from eczema and wheeze. May 2011

An infant diet consisting of high levels of fruits, vegetables, and home-prepared foods is associated with less food allergy by the age of 2 years. July 2013

History of treatment with antacid medication is associated with an increased prevalence of food allergy. May 2013

First direct evidence that vitamin D sufficiency may be an important protective factor for food allergy in the first year of life. April 2013

Eczema may play a key role in the development of food allergy in infants. July 2013

Children with high proportions of poly-unsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) in cord blood at birth are more likely to develop respiratory and skin allergies in their early teens. July 2013

Vitamin D sufficiency may be an important protective factor for food allergy in the first year of life. April 2013

Transgenes used to develop GM crops show close links with certain allergens Hev b 10 and Cap a 1w, and  links with a number of others. February 2012

Australian children with Low Vitamin D levels at age one are three times more likely to develop allergies. March 2013

Foreign-born children who did not have allergies when they arrived became more likely to develop them after 10 years of residence in the US. February 2013

Babies born by C-section five time more likely to develop allergies by the age of two. February 2013

Triclosan - an antibacterial chemical found in toothpaste and other products - can contribute to an increased risk of allergy development in children. November 2012

High levels of dichlorophenols, a chemical used in pesticides and to chlorinate water, may weaken food tolerance in some people, causing food allergies. December 2012

Western diet is changing the gut bacteria of developed nations, which is causing an increase in allergy. September 2012

The more highly educated the parents, the more likely the children are to have asthma, wheeze and eczema. June 2012

Food allergies more common in the city. June 2012

Amish farm children freer from allergies even than Swiss farm children. June 2012

Intestinal lymphoid nodular hyperplasia in children and its the relationship to food hypersensitivity. May 2012

Excess hygiene may weaken developing immune systems. March 2012

Allergic to cold? It is a real condition. January 2012

Dirt prevents allergy. November 2011

Allergy fears from new and GM foods. June 2011

Allergens transferred in blood more common than previously thought. June 2011

Allergic reactions enhanced by mobile phone use. May 2011

When it comes to certain allergies, birth order matters. March 2011

Semen allergy suspected in rare post-orgasm illness. January 2011

The consumption of fish in infancy and living on a farm both signficantly reduce the incidence of allergic disease in children. June 2010

Climate change grows more allergen-producing plants and fungi – rising CO2, temperatures can raise allergen levels. November 2010

Foetal development in the womb can affect a child’s chances of developing allergies or wheezing. October 2010

Children, males and blacks are at increased risk for food allergies. October 2010

Parasites may protect against allergies – the hygiene hypothesis vindicated. December 2010

Molecule that could ‘turn on’ allergy discovered. January 2010

Microbes help mothers protect children from allergies. December 2009

Dirt helps broken skin to heal and reduces allergic response. November 2009

Excess omega 6 fatty acids really do cause allergy. September 2009

Early herpes infection may protect against allergies? September 2009

Smoking prevents allergies! September 2009

Transplanting allergies. September 2009

Cystitis linked with food allergy. September 2009

A possible link between obesity and allergies in children. May 2009

Massive Indian study seeks cause for allergy in modern life. July 2009

Farm bacteria may help mothers protect their children from allergies. 2009

Henna tattoos can cause allergic reactions. September 2008

Birch pollen/soya cross-reactivity. July 2008

Permanent makeup: solution or nightmare? June 2008

Toxic shower curtains. September 2008

Relatedness of animal and human proteins and allergy. December 2007

Nut allergy passed in blood transfusion. July 2007

Antibiotics and Allergies. May 2006

Fatty foods may cause higher allergy risk. May 2006

The proteins we react to. July 2004


NB Information on this site is not a substitute for medical advice and no liability can be assumed for its use.

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