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Nutritional Issues in Food Allergy.

  • Skypala, Isabel J1, 2
  • McKenzie, Rebecca3
  • 1 Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK. [email protected]
  • 2 Imperial College, London, UK. [email protected]
  • 3 Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London, UK.
Published Article
Clinical Reviews in Allergy & Immunology
Publication Date
Oct 01, 2019
DOI: 10.1007/s12016-018-8688-x
PMID: 29766369


Diet and nutrition play an important role in the development and management of food allergy. The diet of expectant mothers can have an effect on their offspring in terms of allergic outcomes. A host of confounding factors may influence this, with a maternal diet rich in fruits and vegetables, fish, vitamin D-rich foods associated with a lower risk of allergic disease in their children. More surprisingly, the consumption of milk and butter has also been shown to have a protective effect, especially in a farm environment. Similarly, the diet of the infant can also be important, not only in terms of breast feeding, but also the timing of the introduction of complementary foods, the diversity of the diet and the effect of individual foods on the development of allergy. One factor which has clearly been shown not to influence the development of food allergy is allergen avoidance by expectant mothers. In the infant diet, the manipulation of the gut microbiome to prevent the development of atopic disease is clearly an area which promises much, although studies have yet to provide a breakthrough in the prevention of atopic dermatitis. More concrete evidence of the value of diet in prevention has come from studies evaluating infant eating patterns which may protect gut health, through the consumption of large amounts of home-processed fruits and vegetables. The consumption of fish during the first year of life has also been shown to be protective. The importance of nutritional issues in children and adults who have a food allergy has become much more accepted in recent years. The primary allergenic foods in infancy and childhood, milk, egg, wheat and soy are also ones which are present in many foods and thus their avoidance can be problematic from a nutritional perspective. Thus, children with a food allergy can have their growth compromised through avoidance, especially pre-diagnosis, when foods may be excluded without any expert nutritional input. The management of a food allergy largely remains the exclusion of the offending food(s), but it is now clear that in doing so, children in particular can be at nutritional risk if insufficient attention is paid to the rest of the diet. Adults with food allergy are often thought not to need nutritional counselling; however, many will exclude a wide range of foods due to anxiety about trace exposure, or similar foods causing reactions. The avoidance of staple foods such as milk and wheat are common, but substitute foods very often do not have comparable nutritional profiles. Adults may also be more susceptible to on-line promotion of extreme nutritional regimes which can be extremely harmful. All food allergic individuals, whatever their age, should have a nutrition review to ensure they are consuming a healthy, balanced diet, and are not avoiding food groups unnecessarily.

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