Why Do We Get Allergies?

Allergies are an overstimulation of our immune system to allergens in our surroundings. An allergic person’s immune system searches daily for non-threatening allergens that might be a threat and then produces a reaction that results in allergic symptoms.

It is estimated that around 25% of adults and up to 40% of children will develop allergies during the course of their lives. The usual allergies that kids develop usually disappear as they age and their immune system improves, however, allergies can develop at any time in our life.

Allergies also seem to be genetic. You will probably develop allergies if members of your immediate family have them, but this is not always the case.

Can We Prevent Allergies from Developing?

One of the best ways to prevent allergies from developing is to provide babies and children with the correct “anti-allergy” approach from the very beginning.

A diet that is nutritiously balanced is the usually the best approach for living a lifestyle that is healthy, and doing this during pregnancy will help to minimize the risk passing allergies onto the baby. Consuming allergic foods like nuts and fish in moderate portions not only helps with foetal development, it also gives the foetus important nutrients.

Continuing to eat a healthy balanced diet after birth helps to pass on important nutrients via breast milk. Breast milk has been proven to be vital for a baby’s developing system and it can also transfer the mother’s immunity to fighting off infections.

When a baby is 4-6 months old, introducing tiny portions of allergic foods will help to strengthen their natural tolerance as they develop. These kinds of food should only be introduced one at a time, that way you will be able to pinpoint any allergic reactions. Consult with your child’s Pediatrician if you think your child has developed an allergic reaction to a specific food group.

The medical idea of ‘Hygiene Hypothesis’ is embracing kids playing in the dirt at a young age to help them improve their immunity.  When children are encouraged to play outdoors, this will increase their exposure to germs and airborne allergens and this will also help to develop a strong immune system, which will be beneficial to them as they grow older.

To learn more, check out this informative article on the NHS website that looks at the question: Are we too clean for our own good? 

Image Credit: “No273 13 Oct 2009 Sneeze” (CC BY 2.0) by mcfarlandmo

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