#Thought-Piece: Are Allergies a Modern World Disease?

In case you haven’t noticed, allergies are the new black… well, the new black of modern diseases, that is. Everyone seems to be battling their own form of an allergic reaction to something, and things are getting pretty confusing. While our parents and their parents didn’t seem to have as many allergies as we do today, we seem to be reacting to practically anything that comes our way. So, we wonder – why is that?

Words: Brigitte Evans

Modern medicine doesn’t really have an answer to that. That is, not entirely. Although allergic diseases are better understood nowadays than a century ago, there are still gaping holes that need answers. It is somewhat comforting to know that scientists are actively working on discovering popular allergy triggers, and trying to prevent this in the future as much as possible.

Getting familiar with the matter, we’ve put together a preliminary list of what science knows so far about most common allergy triggers and ways to prevent them.

1. “Living Too Clean”

The modern world is all about living and eating as clean as possible, but how clean is too clean? Apparently, living too clean a life may cause your body to become less resistant to everyday bacteria we’re continually exposed to, which then leads to a bad immune system and illness. Although no one is suggesting abandoning good hygiene, it is advisable to let yourself be around potential allergy triggers, such as cats, dogs, other animals, dust, etc. In mildly exposing yourself to such elements, you are actually helping your body become more resistant and defend itself from those same factors. Naturally, forcing your body to accept elements it has strong reactions to (i.e. suffocating, swelling, rash, bloating, etc) is never advisable.

2. Delayed Introduction of Foods

Although former AAP guidelines used to advise delayed introductions of particular foods, like eggs and milk, newer studies actually support the idea of letting the child consume as many foods as possible from an early age. Moderate consumption of all foods is advisable in all ages.

3. Caesarian Birth & Formula

Recent findings have showcased that delivery by C section may potentially increase the risk of allergies in children and adults (later on). The logic behind this finding is that the “healthy” bacteria from the birth canal are actually good for shaping a child’s immune system, shielding them from allergies and other negative influences. Added, it is said that a child fed on formula instead of breast milk is more likely to experience allergies as they grow up, than children who were breastfed.

4. Early Exposure to Certain Allergens & Smoke

Dust, mites and cockroach allergens appear to be an early risk factor for the development of allergies. Smoke exposure is known to increase respiratory disorders in children as well, including asthma and various kinds of allergies. Unvented and moldy spaces cause allergies as well, which is why installing the right HEPA air purifier is paramount for everyone who is looking to avoid developing dust allergies and upper respiratory infections.

5. Low Vitamin D & Calcium Intake

Living fast and eating unwell appears to be one of the top reasons for the body to become weak and allergy-prone. As a millennial, you probably know how difficult it is to squeeze in a healthy meal between the meetings. But unless you want to go around with your eyes red and nose swollen, make sure you introduce the right vitamins and healthy foods into your diet as soon as possible. The organic lifestyle may be hard to follow at first, but once your body and mind get used to it, you’ll wonder why you haven’t started eating clean earlier. To give your body a real vitamin D and calcium boost, eat dairy products, organic kale, spinach, soybeans, okra, collards and white beans. Include fish, like salmon, sardines, perch and rainbow trout, as well as oatmeal, orange juice and breakfast cereal. With the vitamin D and calcium increase, your body’s immune system will toughen up and you won’t have to battle allergies as much.