Harold Kaiser (Practicing Allergist and Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of Minnesota Medical School) gives expert video advice on: How do I prevent getting allergies?; Are there supplements I can take to avoid getting allergies? and more...
Are there allergy fighting foods?
There are anecdotal reports of people that say, "You know, I take this and that and my child did not develop allergies. He's the only one in the family who didn't." Terrific. I'm delighted that child does not have allergies. But I can't scientifically recommend it. And at this stage in our lives, there are no supplements that I know of that prevent asthma or allergies.
Are there supplements I can take to avoid getting allergies?
The answer is probably not. There are a lot of theories and a lot of anecdotes but the good science is not compelling that food manipulation early in childhood or during pregnancy prevents allergies. It seems reasonable if your family has food allergy and you're wondering what should I feed by baby, that you should not feed them the foods that members in your family are allergic to. Unfortunately again, the science is not good enough to forcefully recommend that. So, there is a lot of advice about avoid this, avoid that, don't do this, do that without hard evidence that this is really so. So, there are no food preventing medications. In other words, you can't take probiotics or certain vitamins or kelp or any of the alternative foods and prevent allergies or asthma.
What are the environmental risk factors for allergies?
We used to think that the cleaner, the better. Keep the dust out. Avoid animals. Avoid smoking. And this would prevent, or at least slow down, the manifestation of allergic disease. At present it seems that one of the things you can do to prevent allergies is have a little dirt in your life, and especially animal dirt. Farm families have less allergic disease than people who live in the city. In Germany there are classic studies about patients who live in the kind of a house where they have the barn on the ground floor and the living quarters above and there is ongoing contamination with the animal products. This sort of an environment leads to much less allergic disease in adulthood that those of us who grew up in middle-class America and got our shots and kept the dust down.