Could this supplement support those living with food hypersensitivity?

Researchers from the University of Michigan have identified a potential new treatment for food allergies in inulin.
Could this supplement support those living with food hypersensitivity?

Inulin, a naturally occurring plant fibre, has been identified by researchers at the University of Michigan as a potential new treatment for food allergies.

The naturally occurring plant fibre is commonly used as a supplement, including a prebiotic in soda and a replacement for sweeteners and for other products and purposes.

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The paper was published in Nature Materials, with academics saying the research updates “appear to be a major advancement that offers the promise of relief to food allergy suffers around the world”.

Published in the paper were explanations of the inulin gel-based oral immunotherapy’s success in stopping allergic reactions in mice by, in part, targeting bacteria in the gut. In fact, the gel was found to prevent severe allergic reactions “during and even after being administered”, including reactions to common triggers such as peanuts, egg white and milk.

Conducted by an international team of scientists in pharmaceutical sciences, biomedical and chemical engineering, internal medicine and other specialties, the research proposes that inulin gel addresses the root cause of food allergies, rather than just managing symptoms.

“Inulin, a widely consumed dietary fiber recognized as safe by the FDA, forms the basis of the gel, making it a feasible and translatable option for clinical use,” said James Moon, lead author of the study from U-M’s College of Pharmacy. Previously, Moon has studied inulin’s potential to treat disease and has said inulin gel-based therapy holds “great promise” due to its safety profile and potential for large-scale production.

The academics acknowledge that further research and clinical trials are needed to test the findings. However they believe that the study, which emphasised the role of the small intestine’s microbiota and metabolites in food allergy regulation, opens “potentially life-changing new avenues for therapeutic interventions”.

Episode 43: Living with food allergies – Part One

The research discovered that an inulin gel, specially formulated with an allergen, normalized the imbalanced intestinal microbiota and metabolites in allergic mice. This normalization resulted in the establishment of allergen-specific oral tolerance, effectively suppressing allergic reactions to various food allergens.

Inulins are a group of polysaccharides and natural storage carbohydrates found in over 36,000 plant species, such as wheat, onion, asparagus, and chicory, which is commonly used to manufacture supplements.

This fiber is also being researched and clinically tested for its potential role in treating or enhancing our understanding of cancerous tumors, gastrointestinal illnesses, diabetes, and other diseases.

“The therapy showed long-lasting protection even after the cessation of treatment, indicating its potential for sustained relief from food allergies,” added Fang Xie, a Graduate Student who also led the studies.

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