Currently, there is a profound rethinking on the meaning of allergies. It is confirmed that allergic reactions do not depend only on the specific antibodies to a substance, pollen, or food, but on the interaction of several factors that contribute to increasing the inflammation of the body, and facilitate allergic reactions.
These responses are more like "the straw that broke the camel’s back", rather than a direct reaction due to IgE or to the allergen itself. Pollen or foreign substances are certainly involved, but the allergic reaction expresses more a defensive reaction or a "too full" signal, than a real disturb based on the substance.
A recent article published in a remarkable journal, determined that only 38% of allergic reactions are directly linked to pollen or respiratory allergens. By simple subtraction, it means that 62% of the reactions once defined allergic (among these the most important, serious and persistent) are due to the interaction of several factors, involving the systemic inflammatory response of the organism. This observation is so astonishing that it has completely revolutionized the perception of allergies.
Other authors reported even more interesting results! They correlated the worldwide increased number of food allergy cases, with the generally extended intake of glycated (or glycosylated) products, especially sugars that facilitate glycosylation. It means that a person - child or adult - may have a low sensibility towards food, but the simultaneous intake of glycosylated products or special sugars can transform a simple reaction of "recognition" into a real allergic food reaction.
But what are glycated products, and how are they produced? Glycosylation refers to the presence of some sugars attached to specific proteins or fats, thus determining the formation of glycotoxic compounds. But these glycated products are also produced during the cooking procedure, especially when you prepare crispy, grilled, or roasted products since very high temperatures are needed. Some examples of food that contain glycated products are french fries, toasted cheese, roasted oilseeds (nuts and peanuts), grilled meats or fish, crispy, roasted or crunchy cereal products.
Glycosylation is also induced by some sugars. In particular, sucrose (glucose + fructose) and fructose when they are not in their “natural” context (fresh whole fruits), generate the same products that high cooking temperatures produce.
Several studies have found that children who drink soft drinks or fruit drinks with high fructose content, frequently present allergic-like manifestations; most likely due to the inflammatory action of glycosylation products.
Currently, there is not a clear explanation of why the number of cases of food allergies has increased that much in western countries. Still the glycosylated products and sugars that form them might represent the possible missing link.
So what can you do, especially if you suffer from food or pollen allergies? There are some recommendations that we’ve been suggesting for years:
- Keep controlled (low) temperatures while cooking.
- Eat raw products as much as possible.
- Reduce sugar and sweeteners to the minimum.
- Use specific antioxidants (flavonoids, quercetin, perilla oil).
- Control your levels of food-related inflammation by getting the Food Inflammation Test.
Try to follow these tips, and remember "food is not an enemy". Consider that if you have a varied and healthy diet, some occasional “cheatings” can be done once in a while without having negative effects.