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New research results: junk food may be responsible for food allergies
Most people realize that consuming junk foods such as hamburgers, French fries and the like is not healthy. But apparently such foods are even more harmful to health than previously thought. Because according to new research results, junk food could also be responsible for food allergies.
More and more people suffer from a food allergy
Food allergies have been increasing for many years. According to estimates by the German Allergy and Asthma Association (DAAB), around six million people are affected in Germany alone. The consequences can be dramatic. “Allergic reactions to food are not limited to certain organs. They can appear shortly after consumption up to 72 hours later, ”writes the DAAB on its website. In addition to reactions on the skin, mucous membranes and the respiratory tract, symptoms can also arise in the gastrointestinal tract and in the cardiovascular system. In extreme cases, such allergies can even have life-threatening consequences. The widespread consumption of fast food could be partly responsible for the increase in food allergies.
Relationship between junk food consumption and food allergies
At the 52nd Annual Meeting of the European Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN), new research results were presented that show a connection between the consumption of junk food and food allergies.
As reported in the specialist magazine "EurekAlert!", The study shows that higher concentrations of so-called "advanced glycation end products" (AGEs), which are abundant in junk food, are associated with food allergies in children.
To arrive at their results, researchers from the University of Naples, "Federico II", observed three groups of children between the ages of six and twelve (61 children in total): food allergy sufferers, respiratory allergy sufferers and healthy control persons.
The study found a significant correlation between the subcutaneous concentrations of AGEs and the consumption of junk food.
It was also found that the subcutaneous concentrations of AGEs were higher in children with food allergies than in children with respiratory allergies or without allergies.
In addition, the research team found convincing evidence of the mechanism of action brought about by AGEs in the determination of food allergies.
Consumption of highly processed food has increased dramatically
AGEs are proteins or lipids that are glycated after exposure to sugar and are found to a large extent in junk food - from sugar, processed foods, foods heated in the microwave, and roasted or grilled meat.
It is already known that AGEs play a role in the development and progression of various diseases such as diabetes, arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and neurological diseases.
But this is the first time an association between AGEs and food allergies has been found.
As the magazine says, there are no reliable statistics on the global prevalence of food allergies, but there is increasing evidence that the prevalence is increasing, especially among young children. In some countries, the frequency is up to ten percent.
It is also known that the consumption of highly processed foods (which are known to contain a higher proportion of AGEs) has increased dramatically in recent decades.
In European countries, such foods account for up to 50 percent of the total amount of daily energy consumption.
Better prevention and treatment
"Previous hypotheses and models of food allergies have been insufficient to explain the dramatic increase in food allergies in recent years," commented principal auditor Roberto Berni Canani.
“Therefore, dietary AGEs could be the missing link. Our study undoubtedly supports this hypothesis. We now need to do more research to confirm it, ”said the expert.
"If this relationship is confirmed, it will reinforce national governments' arguments to improve public health interventions to limit child junk food consumption."
Isabel Proaño from EFA (European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients ’Associations) added:
"These new findings show that there are still many environmental and nutritional problems that affect our health and well-being."
But: "Healthcare professionals and patients do not have all the important information they need to deal with an illness that has a dramatic impact on their quality of life."
According to the scientist, industrial food processing and labeling gaps don't help either.
"We urge health authorities to provide better prevention and treatment for people with food allergies," said Proaño. (ad)