New research by Tan and colleagues suggests that a high fibre diet could prevent nut allergies in humans.
It is important to note that Tan and colleagues’ research was conducted on mice, which doesn’t always crossover well to humans.
Mice specifically bred to have this allergy were less likely to experience anaphylactic shock from peanuts if they were given a high fibre diet. It is suggested that the protective effect may be down to the fact that when gut bacteria break down fibre, short-chain fatty acids are released that bind to immune cells. This could stop the cells recognising peanuts as a foreign object, thus preventing an allergic reaction.
Previous research in mice showed that high fibre diets boost populations of gut bacteria that produce these fatty acids from fibre, giving further credence to the idea.
Tan, J., McKenzie, C., Vuillermin, P.J., Goverse, G., Vinuesa, C.G., Mebius R.E., Macia, L. & Mackay, C.R. (2016) Dietary Fiber and Bacterial SCFA Enhance Oral Tolerance and Protect against Food Allergy through Diverse Cellular Pathways. Cell Reports. 15(12), pp.2809-2824. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2016.05.047.