Researchers from the UK’s University of Southampton Medical College have determined that an infant fed an early diet incorporating more homemade foods and more fruits and vegetables is significantly less likely to have food allergies.
The researchers tested 41 infants who had been diagnosed with food allergies along with 82 other infants who did not have food allergies. Food allergies were determined with food challenges.
The researchers collected food diaries from the mothers for all of the children through their first two years of life. They then analyzed the food diaries for eating patterns, including their intake of fruits and vegetables, processed foods, homemade foods and so on.
The researchers found that the children who ate more homemade foods and fruits and vegetables and fewer processed foods – as well as less adult foods – during their first year of life were significantly less likely to have food allergies by the age of two.
The researchers concluded:
“An infant diet consisting of high levels of fruits, vegetables, and home-prepared foods is associated with less food allergy by the age of 2 years.”
In an interview with Reuters Health, Dr. Kate Grimshaw – lead author of the study – gave some background on the possible relationship between early diet and food allergies:
“We know that there are nutrients in the diet that educate the immune system. And one could argue that if they’re not there in adequate amounts when the child’s immune system is developing, that may be one way that this is working.”
Grimshaw KE, Maskell J, Oliver EM, Morris RC, Foote KD, Mills EN, Margetts BM, Roberts G. Diet and food allergy development during infancy: Birth cohort study findings using prospective food diary data. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2013 Jul 23.
Grens K. Fresh, unprocessed baby foods tied to less allergy. Reuters Health. 2013 Aug 9. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/09/us-fresh-unprocessed-idUSBRE9780P720130809