Probiotics for Allergy Prevention

Develop a healthy immune system with probiotics

Allergies and related conditions such as asthma and eczema are on the rise in developed countries. It's been commonly bandied about that high standards of cleanliness may be partly to blame, and Dr. Guy Delespesse of the Université de Montreal agrees.

There are many factors that can lead to allergies, such as family history, environmental pollution and stress. Dr Delespesse has been studying how our limited exposure to bacteria enters into the equation. He claims that "the more sterile the environment a child lives in, the higher the risk he or she will develop allergies or an immune problem."

Currently 30 percent of the Western population suffers from allergies, a 200 percent increase over the last 30 years. Mortality rates from asthma have also increased. Dr. Delespesse attributes this to excessive cleanliness, saying that in contrast, "regions in which the sanitary conditions have remained stable have also maintained a constant level of allergies and inflammatory diseases."

In order to develop properly, the immune system must be exposed to bacteria. Current standards of hygiene greatly reduce our exposure to harmful microorganisms, but our exposure to beneficial bacteria has also been limited. This, in effect, compromises our immune system and leads to a higher risk of allergies and other autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis.

Probiotics are microorganisms that benefit intestinal and general health, and Dr. Delespesse suggests that enriching our intestinal flora with these probiotics can have a positive impact on allergies. "Consuming probiotics during pregnancy could help reduce allergies in the child," he says. While he cautions that probiotics are not a miracle remedy, they are "one of many elements that improve our diet and our health."

April 15, 2010

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