Allergies are rife in sensitive society

Allergies are more prevalent than ever and cleaning products are just one of the causes of allergies.
Allergies are more prevalent than ever and cleaning products are just one of the causes of allergies. Thinkstock

OPINION: It seems like allergies of all sorts are on the rise.

People are allergic or sensitive to all sorts of things: dust, dust mites, pets, cockroaches, pollen, latex, chemicals found in shampoos, conditioners, face and body creams, household cleaners, cigarette smoke, medications, insects, and foods.

There are generally two classes of reactions.

Either an intolerance, which is a mild reaction when the person is exposed to the allergen they are sensitive to, causing bloating, skin reactions, lethargy, constipation, diarrhoea, or headaches.

Then there is the allergic type response, where the type of immune response is intense and the reaction is often considered an emergency, where swelling of the mouth, lips, airways and face can occur, potentially shutting down breathing.

But why and how did this happen?

Science is now revealing how important our gut bacteria is in designing our entire immune system; this can be dramatically affected during gestation and birth.

For instance, if a mother who is pregnant is forced to take a course of antibiotics, this greatly disrupts her delicate balance of gut flora.

When a child is born, it ingests most of its own gut flora during its journey along the birth canal. If much of it has been killed off, or the child is born via caesarean, the baby misses out greatly on its primary opportunity in establishing its gut bacteria, making them more prone to allergies.

Breastfeeding is another way to increase an infant's natural gut bacteria, making them less sensitive to allergies also.

Other theories are our obsession with cleanliness and antibacterial products; we are preventing our immune system from learning to respond in a more controlled and safe way in small doses.

Find nutritionist Honor Tremain on Facebook at Honor Tremain Thriving Nutrition or to ask her a health or diet-related question, email

Topics:  allergies bacteria honor tremain nutritionist opinion

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