Posted on: March 8th, 2022

The search for a versatile treatment to combat allergies has ramped up over the past few decades. As the number of children with allergies has been on the rise, so too has the research into figuring out how to mitigate these allergies.

Many things have been associated with the rise in allergies, including environmental factors–such as western diets. Western diets contain foods that are so numerous and varied that it can be hard to directly pinpoint what is affecting the allergic immune responses.

Popular research topics have looked at everything from the alteration of livestock through hormones to fertilizers & pesticides used on crops. Due to the number of different chemicals, refinement processes, manufacturing processes, and other factors in food production, researchers are still putting together a solid picture of ‘why’ allergies have been on the rise.

Versatile Allergy-Fighting Agents

While several causes have been identified to increase the likelihood of developing a specific allergy, research to find a catch-all treatment has not. Different approaches are used for different allergies. Some of these have broader uses than others but are generally relegated to treating hay fever and related allergies & allergic reactions.

Two of the most common ‘general’ allergy medications include over-the-counter antihistamines & decongestants. Allergies can be treated with antihistamines or decongestants, however, these are mainly used for allergies caused by seasonal environmental changes.

Other common, but more intense, allergy medications include Mast Cell Stabilizers, Leukotriene Modifiers, & Steroids. Several weeks of using one of these types of medications calm more severe symptoms related to allergies.

What few of the current common allergy treatments can address, however, are food allergies. Food allergies that pose a medical risk, and come on quickly, are treated by using an epi-pen or other emergency medication. But, many other food allergies or intolerances lead to low-level complaints, like a rash or congestion, but do not pose an immediate serious medical risk.  These allergies are due to a different immune system reaction and the symptoms are often bothersome over days.  Treating the root of these types of allergic and intolerance reactions still eludes researchers.

Dietary Pectin Fiber has some unique properties while going through the gastrointestinal tract that has prompted several recent studies in this area.

Dietary Pectin Fiber & Allergy Intervention

An emerging area of research looking to mitigate a person’s risk of these non-immediate food-based allergic reactions involves prebiotics to diversify the growth and activity of gut microbiota. Dietary pectin fiber is found primarily in plant cell walls and tissues. 

A study of pectin and chemistry noted “Pectin is recognized as a prebiotic that is not degraded by either human saliva or gastric acid and is resistant to pepsin, trypsin, and rennet. Several studies demonstrated that pectins from different sources, such as apple or citrus, can serve as valuable carbon sources for gut bacteria.”

The resiliency of pectin while traversing the gastrointestinal tract may allow it to have beneficial effects throughout its digestive journey. Recent research on dietary pectin fiber has also shown that it may be able to block certain pro-inflammatory pathways, which could help slow allergic reactions.

The negative results of studies on dietary pectin fiber and allergies have shown that some allergens may not be digested due to the presence of the fiber. This would lead to allergic reactions happening as the undigested allergens reach the gut.

Research at Biofortis

Biofortis is dedicated to protecting consumer health throughout the world by delivering a wide range of testing and consultancy services to the food, supplement, and nutrition industries. Biofortis supports this mission in two ways—through clinical trials and sensory and consumer insights testing. We specialize in clinical research targeting foods, ingredients, and dietary supplements that affect body structures, function, and overall health. Contact us with any clinical trial or scientific consulting needs.

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