May 27, 2023

Hot cocoa, Christmas cookies and pumpkin pie are typically treats enjoyed around Christmas regardless of their calorie counts, but for those with food allergies, the ingredients in their treats are more of a concern this holiday season.

Many are unable to enjoy food without examining its content before consumption because of allergies. More products that cater to people with food allergies are on the market, but the skeptical may wonder about this mysterious rise in the amount of people with food allergies.

Kim Court, junior nutrition dietetics major, said she was prescribed a common prescription called Zithromax when she was a child to help cure ear and sinus infections.

“Instead of a penicillin- based drug it was Zithromax, which is a harder, stronger drug,” Court said.

Zithromax helps to kill bacterium in the intestines, and the strength of the medication caused small holes to form in her intestines.

“When food leaks through, (my body) reacts to that,” Court said. Foods, such as dairy-based products and tree nuts irritate her digestive system and cause a reaction.

Nathaniel Chavers, senior kinesiology major, also suffered with allergies as a child and had to take plenty of antibiotics, which killed the good bacteria in his intestines, as well.

He said the medication may have caused him to have food allergies, but it was hard for doctors to pinpoint what caused the food allergies.

“Your antibodies see (leaking food) as foreign and then attack it,” Chavers said.

Because of the medications that were harsh on their digestive systems, Court and Chavers said they believe that food spilling through damaged intestines is the main contributor to their food allergies. They agree taking a probiotic supplement compensates for the good bacteria that was being killed off.

Court said because these harsh medications were being prescribed while her generation was young, she thinks this could be a reason for the increase in food allergies.

“There could have been medications that contributed to inflammatory conditions that increased the risk for food allergies,” said Margaret Barth, director of Nutrition and Food Sciences and Health Sciences at California Baptist University.

She also provided more insight on other possible reasons for allergies related to food.

“If one of your parents had allergenic disease, you have a 50 percent chance of developing allergenic disease during your lifetime,” Barth said. “This can be seasonal, inhalant-related as well as food-related. There is a greater risk of food allergies if the person was not breastfed.”

Court’s and Chavers’ situations explain increase in food allergies; however, it is plausible there has been an improvement in diagnosing and reporting allergic diseases and conditions, which could be the main reason for the heightened awareness.

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