At this point, in the early 2000s, I had no real research that these foods could heal the gut and treat food allergies. All I knew was the success I had seen with my own family.
But now, that's no longer the case. Today, more and more researchers are confirming the health benefits of cultured and fermented foods.
For example, a major study published last year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences supported the idea that probiotics could cure food allergies. Interestingly, it also suggested a possible cause for the prevalence of food allergies, which rose a whopping 50 percent in children between 1997 and 2011.
The research team successfully identified naturally occurring bacteria in the human gut that keeps people from developing food allergies. But they found that the bacteria, called Clostridia, diminishes with antibiotic use at a young age. And when the researchers administered antibiotics to young mice, they discovered the mice were significantly more likely to develop peanut allergies than the control group. That means that children who frequently use antibiotics could be more susceptible to food allergies later in life.
The encouraging news is that when the mice were given Clostridia, the friendly bacteria, their sensitivity suddenly went away. They were no longer allergic.
This is very similar to what I saw happen in my own home. My daughter was given antibiotics every year since she was a young child because of chronic sinus and ear infections. She developed food allergies in her teenage years that only continued to get worse — until we added cultured foods full of probiotics in 2002.
Today, my daughter continues to enjoy cultured foods and remains allergy-free. I now have a blog and a new book, Cultured Food for Health, devoted to these powerful foods. I've also encouraged my friends with food allergies to try introducing fermented foods, and they've seen success as well.
I wish more people understood that food allergies are a warning sign that your gut is out of balance. We are all made up of 100 trillion bacteria, and when these special, unseen helpers diminish in numbers because of antibiotics or drugs, our health suffers.
Research on food allergies and gut health continues, and I'm excited to see what future studies will reveal. But as my family's personal story shows, a simple addition of friendly bacteria could be the key to helping you heal.