A new study from Australia has found that the immune system and body are less likely to have food allergy reactions when fortified with a high-fiber diet. The study, led by researchers at Monash University, found that fiber may be instrumental in food allergy reactions.
The researchers contend that probiotics and prebiotics (beneficial bacteria and healthy foodstuffs) could work together to prevent or even reverse some allergies. Their findings were made through research with mice.
Mice with peanut allergies were protected against the allergy when given a high-fiber diet.
The researchers believe that the fiber-rich diet reshapes the gut microbiota, protecting against the food allergy and reaction. The idea is that these microbiota, or "gut bacteria," break down into short-chain fatty acids that help the immune system resist allergens.
This creates not only a potential route for allergy avoidance or mitigation for some patients, but also for drug therapies involving short-chain fatty acids as a treatment option. The short-chain fatty acids boost a particular subset of the immune system called dendritic cells. These cells seem to control whether an allergic response to a food allergen happens, they say.
Vitamin A could also play a role, the research says. Dendritic cells require it and those who do not eat more fibrous foods may not be getting enough.