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With peanuts against peanut allergy

peanuts

More and more people are allergic to certain foods. Peanut allergy sadly takes a leading position here, as it is the most common cause of allergy-related death.

Foods that trigger an allergy are mainly chicken eggs, cow’s milk, wheat, fish, some types of vegetables and fruit, and nuts. However, peanuts are one of the most common triggers for a food allergy, which usually occurs in childhood.

And peanuts, and by extension peanut butter, trigger particularly strong reactions in some people. These can range from mild to acute, life-threatening situations.

The respiratory tract is often affected. This can lead to things like a tight throat, coughing and frequent sneezing, and even asthma attacks. Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea can also be an allergic reaction to peanuts, as can eczema or reddening of the skin.

The worst reaction is anaphylactic shock. Shortness of breath, circulatory arrest, and organ failure can occur within a very short time. Emergency doctors then administer adrenaline immediately, because it makes breathing easier and reduces swelling of the skin, for example in the throat. In addition, adrenaline promotes general blood circulation. All of these can be life-saving.

Affect the immune system

Because peanuts can trigger such severe allergies, researchers have repeatedly conducted studies on them. One focus was mostly on how small children can be prevented from developing an allergy in the first place. One of the latest studies appeared in the journal The Lancet in June. They were carried out by researchers at the University of Oslo and at the renowned Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, among others.

Among other things, tiny amounts of peanut butter were given to infants from the age of three months. These children then had a significantly lower risk of developing peanut allergy at the age of three compared to a control group. The risk for them was 0.7 percent. In the group that received placebos, the risk was almost three times as high, at 2.0 percent.

The conclusion of the researchers: Infants should be given foods that may trigger allergies as early as possible. The Scandinavian study thus supports the hypothesis, which had already been put forward in earlier studies, that early and regular introduction of allergy-causing foods in small amounts can significantly reduce the allergy risk even in later years.

BdT picture of the day farm open day
Children who grow up in the countryside are less at risk of allergies

Widespread peanut allergy

Peanut allergy is the most common food allergy in children. Approximately 0.8-3% of children and 0.6-0.8% of adults are currently affected, primarily in the USA, Canada, England, and Australia.

Even if in Germany alone almost every third person has developed an allergy to various substances, only around twenty percent suffer from a food allergy. Peanut allergy is the most common food allergy in children.

Excessive hygiene

Researchers have long assumed that many allergies are due in no small part to our excessive hygiene. Time and again it has been shown that children who grow up in rural areas suffer from allergies much less frequently. Your body comes into contact with various pathogens early on, against which it has to defend itself.

In many works, researchers found that staying in cowsheds and drinking raw cow’s milk, for example, could play a role and that microorganisms such as fungi or bacteria even seem to protect small children against allergies.

According to the so-called farm or hygiene hypothesis, excessive hygiene can lead to the immune system not being activated enough because it does not have to deal intensively with various infectious agents. However, in the city, it is almost impossible to create an environment and conditions like on a farm.

Food allergy and food intolerance are not the same

A food allergy triggers an immune response in our body. It is different from food intolerance. Here the immune system is not involved in the reactions of the body. Rather, the body is not able to absorb or process certain foods in the first place. The symptoms usually do not appear immediately after eating or drinking, but often hours later.

The most common food intolerances are lactose, gluten, fructose, and histamine. The symptoms are usually flatulence or heartburn, diarrhea, or abdominal cramps. Headaches or dizziness are just as much symptoms as skin rashes.

Germany ice cream | chocolate
Traces of peanuts can also be found in various types of ice cream

Traces of peanuts

A peanut allergy cannot be cured and is also difficult to treat. For those affected, such an allergy requires increased vigilance, because it is not just about not eating peanuts or giving up peanut butter. “Traces of peanuts” can also be present in foods that are not necessarily suspect.

This includes any type of ice cream, whether vanilla, strawberry, or chocolate. Cornflakes and muesli are among them, although it is understandable that these foods may contain minute amounts of peanuts. It is enough that these foods are produced in the same machines. Even thorough cleaning does not necessarily prevent this, and tiny traces are often enough to trigger reactions in allergy sufferers.

It is not about individual substances that are contained in peanuts, but about a large number of allergens that are found in very small amounts in peanuts. However, many of these are difficult to recognize and only become noticeable when the body has already reacted to them. Surprisingly, this includes wax crayons, which can be very dangerous for children with a peanut allergy.

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