Today’s generation of children is often referred to as the allergy generation. A child born today has a 1 in 12 chance of developing food allergies. (source) With the prevalence of serious allergies to foods such as peanuts, dairy, gluten and soy, it’s hard to imagine that our great-grandparents grew up in time when these allergies were almost non-existent.
Why is a child born today at a greater risk for developing food allergies? Why didn’t our great-grandparents have to worry about peanuts? There are many potential reasons for the rise in childhood food allergies. Science continues to explore an array of associated links and these 10 reasons for the rise in childhood food allergies give us plenty of food for thought.
10 Reasons for the Rise in Childhood Food Allergies
1. Leaky Gut in Pregnant or Nursing Mom
When a pregnant or nursing mom has leaky gut syndrome, her digestive flora is out of balance. A new baby’s digestive tract gets populated first when traveling through the birth canal and later through a mother’s breast milk. If a breastfeeding mother has unbalanced gut flora, her baby will have a hard time establishing a healthy, robust digestive function…setting the stage for gas, colic, eczema and allergies. (source 1, source 2)
2. Increased Consumption of Processed Foods
The processed food items lining supermarket shelves today are packed full of ingredients and chemicals that disrupt our digestion, immune function, hormone balance, behavior and neurological development. Babies and children are especially at risk to these processed foods because their immature digestive systems are unable to handle fake, refined and chemical ingredients. (source 1, source 2, source 3)
3. Genetically Modified Foods (GMOs)
Our children today are part of the largest, unregulated, forced science experiment in history: the consumption of GMOs. No scientific research was done on these foods before they hit the market in 1996 and new research done by concerned consumer groups show these genetically modified organisms are both toxic and allergenic. GMOs are restricted or banned in 30 countries and counting. In the United States GMOs are present in the majority of packaged foods and currently the USA has no labeling requirements for genetically modified ingredients. (source)
4. Increased Exposure to Environmental Toxins
We are exposed to double the amount of environmental toxins associated with autism, ADHD, behavior and development disorders today than we were only 7 years ago. (source) The result? A generation of children with overburdened immune and detoxification systems. (learn more)
5. Antibiotics in Food (and Antibacterial Living in General)
When children eat conventional meat and dairy products containing antibiotics, healthy gut flora in the digestive tract is killed. Additionally, our overly sanitizing tendencies (think hand sanitizers and wipes) also disrupt the balance of flora in the digestive tract. Over 75% of the immune system resides in the gut. When gut flora is out of balance, the immune system cannot function properly. (learn more)
6. Decreased Consumption of Traditional, Real Food
Our ancestors knew the importance of nutrient-dense foods like eggs, cod liver oil, organ meats, bone broth and healthy saturated fats for proper immune function and brain development. Families today eat far less of these sacred foods. (source)
7. Modern Farming Practices
Modern farming methods strip our soils of valuable minerals. As a result our fruits and vegetables have less vitamins and minerals compared to the produce of generations past. This is especially true for children eating conventional produce. (source 1, source 2)
8. Decline in Traditional Methods of Food Preparation
Today’s generation of parents have lost touch with traditional preparation methods of food. Traditional preparation methods such as soaking and sprouting grains, legumes, nuts and seeds allow the body to properly absorb the nutrients from these foods. Our great-grandparents soaked and sprouted their grains while children today heat pre-packaged food in a microwave. (source 1, source 2)
9. Current Vaccine Schedule
No matter what side of the vaccine debate you’re on, the fact of the matter is that children today are exposed to 49 doses of 14 vaccines before the age of 6, while their great-grandparents were exposed to 4. (source) Vaccines (by design) trigger the immune system in hopes of an antibody response to a desired antigen. However, studies have shown that vaccines can also cause antibody reactions to other ingredients in the vaccine (vegetable oils, egg, gelatin, casein). (source 1, source 2) When combined with environmental toxins, poor food choices and leaky gut issues, for some children vaccines could add more confusion to an already overwhelmed immune system.
10. A Lost Connection to Our Food Source
Our great-grandparents knew their local farmer and bought raw milk from cows in the neighborhood. The food our great-grandparents ate was local and nutrient-dense. Today children eat food trucked in from around the world and stored in a supermarket for weeks or months. The result? Lower quality food that contributes to lower quality health.
The Allergy Generation
Put this all together and it is easy to see why children today are more susceptible to food allergies. Because babies and children by definition have less developed digestive tracts, they simply cannot handle the barrage of toxic food, chemicals and stress thrown at them so early in life. The result of this toxic overload: LEAKY GUT + CONFUSED/OVERBURDENED IMMUNE SYSTEM = FOOD ALLERGIES.
Why do you think we are seeing an increase in childhood food allergies? What reasons would you add to this list?