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Alcohol could beat allergies

17th October 2006

08052006_babyremote1.jpgA fermented drink made from live bacteria cultures could help protect children from potentially life threatening food allergies. 

Up to 8% of children under the age of three suffer food allergies and currently, the only way to deal with the problem is to avoid certain foods.  However, new research suggests that Kefir, a mildly alcoholic drink, contains bacteria which could help reduce allergic reactions.  The fermented drink is already used for its health benefits in Eastern Europe. 

The research, which featured in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, suggests that Kefir inhibits the allergen specific antibody Immunoglobulin E (IgE). IgE is involved in immune responses to inactivate organisms that might cause disease. However, in the presence of allergens, IgE can also activate cells responsible for the release of histamine, a chemical which stimulates allergic responses, such as inflammation and constriction of airways.
Tests found that the amount of Ovalbuminan specific IgE (an allergenic protein found in egg whites which causes the majority of allergic reactions in children) was reduced three times when Kefir was fed to mice.

Researchers from the Society of Chemical Industry say they hope that in the future they may be able to screen out the particular bacterial strains from Kefir and utilise them in medicine.  However, experts have warned that much more testing needs to be done before the product can be tested on humans.

 

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