Peanut Allergy: More Than A Hill of Beans

peanuts in shell
It’s hard to know if it’s the prevalence of food allergies that’s on the rise, or if it’s the increased awareness of this previously under-diagnosed problem. However, one of the most deadly food allergies, peanut allergy, has seemed to become increasingly common in just the last 20 years.

The reason for this seems fairly inexplicable – I, myself, didn’t know a single person when I was in school (70’s through the 80’s) who had an allergy to peanuts. And yet now, cafeterias, classrooms, airplanes, even designated sections in ballparks, are all peanut-free, due to the extreme nature of this allergy, which affects approximately 2% of people.

Most are children, and even the little bit of peanut that gets airborne is enough to cause a reaction that involves closing the throat and windpipe of the affected. People with peanut allergy are likely to need immediate medical attention even if they are exposed by eating at the same table as someone else who has a peanut butter sandwich.

How did this happen? Is it something about how peanuts are grown? Is it something to do with a combination of peanuts and pesticides? Do organically grown peanuts cause the same reaction? Why has this reaction skyrocketed in the last two decades?

There is news today that researchers in England may be on the trail of what happens to those who suffer this allergy, and they are preparing the largest trial to date of children, ages 10 through 17, to see if the cause can be determined. It is hoped, that the results of the study will help researchers find a cure in about three years’ time.

Peanuts are an incredibly nutritious food, a part of the legume family, providing good unsaturated oils, proteins, and fiber as well as various minerals. I’m hoping they are able to find a cure to this allergy, because that gives me hope for those who currently suffer issues related to this allergy, plus hope for answers and cures for the many other food allergies out there.

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