Immunology professor O’Mahony:

‘There is a link between eating fruit & veg and risk of asthma and allergies”

Giving children plenty of fruit, vegetables, butter, and yoghurt in the first year of life could protect them against asthma and allergies later in life, according to new research which shows special compounds in these foods are linked to a lower risk of such conditions.

A study, due to be published shortly in the monthly science journal Allergy, by an international team of researchers led by a UCC scientist, has found that short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) are naturally contained in yogurt and butter, and are also produced through the fermentation of fruit and vegetables by bacteria in the gut.

When healthy quantities of these foods are consumed in the first year of life, the risk of a child developing asthma or allergies later on is found to be much lower, explains Liam O’Mahony, professor of immunology at the Departments of Medicine and Microbiology, APC Microbiome Ireland, UCC. quoted prof O’Mahony as saying: “The increase in the prevalence of allergic diseases over the last decades has been associated with lifestyle changes in industrialised countries. One of the lifestyle factors thought to be important is the diet.”

“Nutritional factors and their interaction with the gut microbiota influence immunological processes, especially early in life. Even though it has been suggested that nutrition during infancy might play a major role in the development of allergies later on in childhood, successful strategies for allergy prevention based on an infant’s diet are still needed."

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