The composition of the bacteria in our gut – called gut microbiota or gut flora – may influence the development of diseases such as allergies. US scientists recently took a closer look at the gut flora’s role in causing food allergies, in this specific case cow’s milk allergy. Taking stool samples from infant donors, they discovered that these lacked a gut bacterium from the Clostridium genus naturally found in healthy children. According to a report in the journal “Nature Medicine”, the scientists used mice raised in a sterile environment to demonstrate that allergic reactions can be reduced by adding a single missing bacterial species (Anaerostipes caccae).
This result not only showcases the gut flora’s role as a possible source of allergies, but also a possible solution, as we may assume that food allergies may be treated or even prevented by modifying the gut microbiome. This, however, would make it necessary to identify each patient’s individual gut flora.
In his article in “Wissenschaft aktuell,” the German science journalist Joachim Czichos reported that the A. caccae bacteria identified by the US scientists might “be able to prevent other food allergies”. These new insights could be helpful in the development of therapies. “Conceivably, patients would be treated with protective gut bacteria or the latter’s metabolites.”
There may be a number of reasons why food allergies are increasingly diagnosed in particular in industrial countries. Debated are toddlers’ treatment with antibiotics, changed diets, higher rates of Caesarean births and earlier provision with formula while simultaneously foregoing breast feeding. All of these issues – a point we’ve emphasized on this website before – prevent the development of a healthy gut flora (gut microbiota) and increase the risk of allergies.
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