It seems that food allergies are the norm these days. Even children's party invitations come with an allergy box. This didn't seem to be the case twenty years ago, so what's going on? Have we all become weaklings? Has our environment changed so much it's poisoned us? Let's take a look.
Nope. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in the States say that, between 1997 and 2001, food allergies in children doubled, and it's the same for the UK because statistics suggest that 50% of kids have at least one allergy in the first 18 years of life. They don't say why though. Typical.
This pattern is following industrialisation of the globe. It started in the UK, the USA and Europe and it's now affecting developing countries.
Research into the environmental effects on our genetics is currently underway. Researchers think that viruses may affect our genes via our immune systems. Sounds like a Hollywood blockbuster.
There's no doubt about it, we are cleaner than we were years ago. Anti-bacterial everything is available - loo roll, floor polish, pillows.
Children's immune systems aren't getting exposed to small amounts of dirt, viruses and germs that they used too. These natural vaccinations protect us from bigger infections later on. Milk and wheat allergies are high on the allergen list, perhaps due to town kids' lack of exposure to the countryside.
Antibiotics should be celebrated but has overuse damaged our immune systems? They've become inexperienced and when faced with something it doesn't recognize throws out a massive immune response - the allergic reaction.
We eat processed foods. Don't lie - you had pizza this week, cottage pie from Tesco and sausages didn't you? It's suggested that lower levels of nutrients contribute to the formation of allergies.
Some researchers think that lower levels of sunlight and vitamin D might influence allergies too. If you're one of those 'I went outside once -the graphics were awful' t-shirt wearers perhaps you need more light? I'm just saying…
The list of what pregnant ladies are not allowed to consume rivals the bible for length. No soft cheese, no cheesecake, no tuna, I'll stop there. Has our avoidance of certain foods resulted in unborn babies simply not being prepared for the potential allergens of their new world? After all, not so long ago women ate their normal diet during pregnancy and we didn't die out.
The standard advice on improving your health always includes eating more fresh (or frozen) fruit and vegetables and I'm afraid this is no exception.
If our poor diets are leading the obesity crisis, then it seems plausible they are affecting the huge rise in allergy too. To help yourself you could try eating well and exercising more. Couple that with alternative methods to kill your cold before shouting at the GP to give you antibiotics and cutting down on your use of antibacterial products.
Perhaps soon all newborns will be given an 'anti-allergen injection' as soon as they arrive. What a sad state of affairs that would be.