Seaweed and Allergies

Fighting Food Allergies With Seaweed

Seaweed and AllergiesAsian countries have used seaweed as a staple food for a long time and it is finally used as a snack food in America as a healthful alternative to chips.  Seaweed is an algae and is low-calorie and packed with nutrients.  Scientists have found that a type of commercial red algae might help to counteract food allergies.  The report of their findings in mice is in ACS’ Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.

Seaweed May Be Anti-allergy

The major health issue of food allergies can be life-threatening in some cases.  

Researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital held a study in 2014 that estimated the condition affects about 8% of children and 5% of adults, worldwide.

Certain compounds in food triggers a cascade of immune system reactions in those people who are allergic.  Some symptoms are hives, wheezing, dizziness and even anaphylactic shock.  Seaweed varieties contain polysaccharides with anti-asthmatic and anti-allergy effect.  A common variety of red algae, gracilaria lemaneiformis, might have similar properties and the researchers wanted to investigate this possibility.  

They isolated polysaccharides from G. lemaneiformis and fed them to mice sensitive to tropomyosin, a protein that is a major shellfish allergen.  A second group of mice, also sensitive to tropomyosin, did not get the polysaccharides.  They were both given the allergen.  Allergy symptoms in the treated mice were reduced compared to the untreated animals.  Further studies could help lead to a better understanding of food allergies and their prevention.

Funding for these studies came from the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the Scientific Foundation of Fujian Province, the Marine Scientific Research Special Foundation for Public Sector and the Xiamen South Ocean Research Center.  

Discovering more ways to curb our allergies would be a big advancement for those of us plagued by an ailment that changes the way we live and can potentially threaten the lives of some.  


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