Taiwanese researchers have found that feeding babies alcoholic milk might help to protect against some food allergies.
The researchers found that Kefir, a traditional fermented drink, which is often used to wean babies, as it is easily digested, has "friendly" bacteria that may play a role in blocking the pathway involved in allergic responses.
Food allergy prevalence is especially high in children under the age of three, with around 5-8% of infants at risk. Avoiding the problematic food is the only treatment till now.
Kefir, which is consumed in Eastern Europe as a health food, was found to inhibit the allergen specific antibody Immunoglobulin E (IgE)
IgE is involved in immune responses to inactivate organisms that might cause disease. However, in the presence of allergens it can also activate cells responsible for the release of histamine, a chemical which stimulates allergic responses, such as inflammation and constriction of airways.
The team of scientists from the National Formosa University led by Ji-Ruei Liu, fed mice the milky drink, and found that after 3 weeks, the amount of ovalbumin (OVA) specific IgE was reduced three-fold. Ovalbumin is an allergenic protein found in egg whites, which cause most allergies in young children.
The milk drink was also found to prevent food antigens from passing through the intestinal wall.