Peanuts, or nut in general, have been the center of much controversy. Some schools and child care centers do not allow peanuts in packed lunches, and airlines quit serving them on planes. Nuts, one of the most nutritious foods are being demonized simply for the fact of increased allergic reactions in our children. The amount of young children that have peanut allergies has more than doubled over the past decade. But scientists can not put a finger on what makes these tasty legume allergies so prevalent.
Theories are around however, but most involve an overactive immune system. Since the parents feed their children snacks that are more convenient these days, many of them contain peanuts or their derivatives, and this explains the explosive growth of allergies. Also, since the immune system is bombarded with these food based allergens, the result is for the immune system to over react. As a matter of fact, food allergies in general are rising, which is evident in the amount of people allergic to gluten these days. Years ago, no one even knew what gluten was.
Unfortunately, peanuts seem to trigger the immune system violently. This may be because they contain several proteins not found in most other foods, and how these proteins are structured stimulates a strong immune response . Research suggests that roasting peanuts does not change the shape of proteins, which many U.S. food companies do. Food allergies are lower in China, where it is customary to boil peanuts, which damages or changes the proteins. It should be noted that China is also more polluted and the immune systems of people there focus on more traditional threats.
Typically, the immune system deals with the peanuts as being safe, but some researchers believe that early exposure to heavy peanut products may cause false identification between them. This theory is strengthened by the fact that 8 of 10 children with allergies have a reaction the very first time they ever eat a peanut, which indicates an indirect previous exposure possibly in the womb or through breast milk.
Researchers say that video games could be a factor as well. Vitamin D is essential for the body and the body need sunlight to make it. Vitamin D helps the immune system to label substances as safe or harmful. Children who spend all of their free time indoors tend to be deficient in Vitamin D, so their bodies might not be able to correctly describe the peanut protein as safe. Parents trying to protect their children might consider sending them outside for long periods of time.