How does your Children’s Nutrition affect Allergy?

Abstract:The first few years in a child’s life are most crucial and vulnerable to the hazards of nutritional deficiency. We should do what we can so that our children are given a balanced and nutritious home-based diet. However, it has been shown that it is not possible to meet the recommended daily intake (RDI) of micronutrients from dietary sources alone. Numerous research groups have suggested that children require dietary supplements to optimise their genetic potential for physical growth, health and mental development.

KEYWORDS:IQShield, allergies, allergy, immunity, immune system enhancing, nutrition


In a previous article, we discussed how allergies, or hypersensitivity reactions, occur when the body's immune system overreacts to a normally harmless substance or allergen. There are different types of allergies, with research indicating that it is possible to reduce our susceptibility to allergies through our diet. This means that your child’s allergies could be improved through nutrition.

Recent findings reveal that diet plays an important role in child health. As with adults, a diet high in fruit and vegetables, grains and cereals, followed by meat and fish, dairy, nuts and least of all fats and oils, is the best option to achieve health and balance. But knowing the types of food, and the amount in which each food type should be consumed is not the whole story. What is also important is how food is prepared. Fresh fruit and vegetables are more likely to contain higher levels of vitamins. In cooking, some of these vitamins may be lost. On the flip side, cooking makes it easier for the digestive system to extract nutrients from food.

The first few years are most crucial and vulnerable to the hazards of dietary insufficiency. Where possible, a balanced and nutritious home-based diet is the best for children. However, this may not be enough. It has been shown that it is not possible to meet the recommended dietary intake (RDI) of micronutrients from dietary sources alone. Most children require dietary supplements to optimise their genetic potential for physical growth, health and mental development [1].

Considering that inadequate intake of micronutrients can lead to some immunopathic-like symptoms, below is a list of some nutrients, their benefits to the immune system, and their properties in reducing allergy-like symptoms.

Breast Feeding
It is well known that breast feeding can provide protective effects for the child in preventing obesity, celiac disease and asthma [2]. Breast milk is rich in nutrients for the newborn including antibodies, which aid the developing immune system. Although the link between breast feeding and protection against allergy is currently under further investigation, the benefits of breast milk for the newborn are substantial.

Diet
Some links between the diet and allergy have been made, influencing the incidence of allergic diseases. High levels of omega-6 fatty acids, margarine, and vegetal oil derivatives, as well as decreased intake of omega-3 and fish oil derivatives and a low level of antioxidants, may predispose to allergic responses such as asthma and atopy [3]. Therefore, increasing intake of omega-3 fatty acids, present in fish oils, as well as antioxidants may decrease the risk of developing allergic conditions.

Fish oil
There is increasing evidence that fish oil provides benefits in reducing allergy-like symptoms. For instance, childhood asthma and allergic sensitisation may be influenced by maternal diet during pregnancy as well as the child’s diet during early childhood. Fish oil intake appears to reduce the release of inflammatory cytokines [4] and the frequency and severity of an immune response following exposure to allergens [5, 6].

Fish (oil) intake is associated with protection against allergic rhinitis [7] and asthma [8] symptoms. These findings were from studies involving 1,002 and 16,187 participants respectively. It was shown that people who never ate fish (nor took fish oil) during childhood were determined to be at an increased risk of suffering from these conditions. This may be due to the effect of levels of omega-3 fats in the membranes of red blood cells, that circulate the body involved in inflammatory processes [9].

Colostrum
It is more common for younger children to suffer from food allergies. It has been suggested that this may be related to the absorption of food macromolecules in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT), and may be more evident in children as their GIT may not be fully developed against harmful agents. It also appears to be linked to immunoglobulin A (IgA) deficiency, which contributes to greater permeability of the intestine for allergenic macromolecules in early childhood [10]. Bovine colostrum is long known to be effective in preventing allergic (inflammatory) responses to allergens [11].

Zinc
During an allergic response in the respiratory airway, histamine is released by mast cells and eosinophils due to stimulation via IgE and uptake of Ca2+. Zinc blocks this uptake and prevents the release of histamine, reducing the effect of the allergic response [12].

With the evidence on hand, clearly it has become important to ensure that your children are getting the nutrition they need. More evidence is becoming available, linking dietary deficiencies with numerous health problems. An immune system that responds inappropriately to an otherwise non-harmful allergen is one problem your children can do without.
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