Diet and dietary factors in the treatment and prevention of allergic disease

Janet Dunstan, Susan Prescott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Variations in diet can have significant effects on immune function through a number of pathways including an-tioxidant status, enteric flora and fatty acid metabolism. Methods/Data base: This review explores the role of recent dietary changes in the epidemic increase in allergic disease, including the potential use of these pathways in the treatment and prevention of disease. Results: Dietary factors with effects on immune function appear more likely to have clinical benefits in early life when responses are still developing. Probiotics have shown early promising results in the treatment of atopic dermatitis in young children. Further studies are needed to confirm the role of probiotics in disease prevention. Similarly, although omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA) have a limited role in established allergic disease, early reports of immunological and clinical benefits in very early life need to be explored further. Although antioxidants have effects on immune function, they do not have a clear role in established disease, and their role in disease prevention has not yet been addressed. Complex interactions between dietary factors and other early exposure make it difficult to determine the role of isolated factors in the rising rates of allergic disease. Conclusion: Probiotics are being increasingly used as a safe complementary therapy in the treatment of atopic dermatitis. There is still little evidence to support the use of other dietary supplements in the treatment of allergic disease. At this stage, no specific recommendations can be made about the role of dietary factors in allergy prevention.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-57
JournalAllergy & clinical immunology international-journal of the world allergy organization
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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