Food allergies are a common problem – but not all food allergies are true allergies. What appears to be a food allergy may actually be a food intolerance. A true food allergy involves the immune system, while food intolerances do not. It’s important to get an accurate diagnosis from a doctor before trying to treat a food allergy – to make sure it’s actually an allergy.
The only good way to treat food allergy is to stay away from foods that cause an allergic response. This can be a challenge for some people – especially those who are allergic to many foods. Now a new study shows there could be hope in the battle against food allergies – in the form of apple polyphenols.
In a study published in Clinical and Experimental Allergy, mice allergic to a certain protein found in egg whites ate an extract that contained apple polyphenols prior to eating the egg protein. Their immune response to the egg white protein was measured after getting the apple polyphenols. The results? The apple polyphenols suppressed the allergic immune reaction the mice would normally have had after being exposed to the protein.
This isn’t the first study to show that apple polyphenols play a role in food allergies. A 2005 study showed that the polyphenols in unripe apples prevented the development of food allergies in mice. Apple polyphenols also reduce the symptoms of atopic dermatitis in humans – an inflammatory disease that’s more common in people with allergies.
No one knows exactly how apple polyphenols help to prevent allergies. Some theories are they prevent the release of histamine – a chemical produced by the body that causes many of the symptoms of an allergic reaction – or they bind to the allergen and change its structure enough so that it no longer elicits an immune response.
Unfortunately, most studies looking at apple polyphenols to treat allergy have been carried out in mice, not humans. So, it’s still too early to recommend apple polyphenol supplements for food allergy sufferers. It’s unlikely that most people would get allergy relief by simply eating apples since larger polyphenols quantities would be needed. On the other hand, apples offer some pretty amazing health benefits. Make them a part of your diet – whether you’re allergic or not.
FEBS Lett. 2005 Aug
Food Quality News website. “Apple polyphenols may ease food allergy: Nestlé study”