Food that has low nutritional value, typically produced in the form of packaged snacks needing little or no preparation, is commonly known as ‘junk food’. It can also refer to high protein food like meat prepared with saturated fat. Fast food and fast food restaurants are often equated with ‘junk food’ but can’t be described as ‘junk food’. Here Nicola Davis, TheGuardian.com, reflects on a rise in food allergies:
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“A ballooning diet of junk food might be one of the factors fuelling a rise in food allergies, researchers have suggested.
Experts say they have seen a rise in food allergies in western countries, including the UK. While true prevalence can be tricky to determine, data published by NHS Digital shows episodes of anaphylactic shock in England due to adverse food reactions rose steadily from 1,362 in 2011-12 to 1,922 in 2016-17.
The culprit, some scientists have suggested, could be substances known as advanced glycation endproducts, or AGEs.
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AGEs occur naturally in the body, but they are found in high levels in highly processed foods, as well as other sources such as cooked meats. They form when sugars react with proteins or lipids. High levels of AGEs in the body, which it has been suggested can result from consuming AGE-rich foods, have previously been linked to a number of conditions including diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.
Now a small study by researchers in Italy has shown that children with food allergies have higher levels of AGEs in their bodies than healthy children without allergies. Children with respiratory allergies showed no such differences. The team also found that children with higher levels of AGEs consumed more food containing such substances.
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