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Food allergy prevalence is especially high in children under the age of three, with around 5-8% of infants at risk. Currently the only treatment is avoidance of the problematic food.
The bacteria in kefir may halt allergies according to research published in the The Society of Chemical Industry's Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. The study has shown that the milk drink 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 it can also activate cells responsible for the release of histamine, a chemical which stimulates allergic responses, such as inflammation and constriction of airways.
Ji-Ruei Liu's team of scientists at the National Formosa University, Yunlin, Taiwan, fed mice the milky drink, and found that after three weeks, the amount of ovalbumin (OVA) specific IgE was reduced three-fold. Ovalbumin is an allergenic protein found in egg whites, which cause most allergies in young children. Kefir is also reported to prevent food antigens from passing through the intestinal wall.
Liu believes that the milky drink could be a promising tool in the prevention of allergies. "In the future, maybe we can screen out the certain components (bacterial strains or bioactive peptides) from kefir and utilise them in medicine," he said.
MEDICA.de; Source: Wiley InterScience