Immunomodulation by food: promising concept for mitigating allergic disease?

Wichers, Harry
September 2009
Analytical & Bioanalytical Chemistry;Sep2009, Vol. 395 Issue 1, p37
Academic Journal
The importance of a properly functioning and well-balanced immune system for maintaining health has become strikingly evident over the past decades. Roughly since World War II, there has been an apparent decrease in the prevalence of “traditional” infectious diseases, with a concomitant increase in immune-related disorders, such as allergies. Causally, a relationship with changes in life-style-related factors such as the increasing use of hygienic practices seems likely. Diet and nutrition can affect the functioning of various immune parameters. This concept can be utilised in attempts to prevent or mitigate allergic reactions via the development of targeted food products or ingredients. This review describes recent findings with respect to food products and ingredients that show potential in this respect, with special emphasis on pro- and prebiotics, β-glucans and fungal immunomodulatory proteins. What all of these approaches have in common is that they appear to strengthen Th1-mediated immunity, thus possibly restoring defective immune maturation due to overly hygienic living conditions: a little bit of dirt does not seem bad!


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