Is it possible to prevent allergies by feeding cheese to your children?

A European study shows that children who eat cheese from the age of 18 months are less prone to developing allergies during their first six years of life.

 

Cheddar, Stilton, blue cheese or camembert … To prevent the onset of food and skin allergies, children’s diet should include significant portions of cheese, and from the youngest age. That is what a study directed by the National Institute for Agronomic Research (INRA) and Besançon Teaching Hospital suggested. For the first time, it establishes a link between early consumption of cheese and decreased risk of childhood allergic diseases. This conclusion was published in the scientific journal Allergy and was undoubtedly received with jubilation in France.

Diversifying the types of cheese

About a thousand children living in the countryside in five different European countries were monitored since their birth, and their parents reported the eating habits of the family, their lifestyle and the health condition of the young participants. Results: the children who ate cheese regularly and/or in large amounts from the age of 18 months, developed less food allergies and eczema (atopic dermatitis) than the others throughout the first six years of life. The more varied the cheese, the more benefits there seems to be. Nevertheless, the study did not reveal any protective effect against allergic rhinitis or asthma.

Richer microbiota

The researchers assume that this protective effect is related to the different microorganisms (bacteria, yeasts and molds) present in cheese. This microbial diversity seems to positively impact the composition of the human gut microbiota in addition to a varied and balanced diet during the first year of life (vegetables, fruits, yaourts, raw milk…). The researchers indicated that “thanks to its rich microbial composition, cheese could change the gut flora and promote its diversification” and reminded us that many studies have already shown that a disrupted or depleted microbiota provides a breeding ground for allergies. To better understand the impact of cheese on the microbiota, the scientists intend to closely analyze the gut flora of cheese lovers.

 

Sources:

Nicklaus S, Divaret‐Chauveau A, Chardon ML et al. Pasture Study Group. The protective effect of cheese consumption at 18 months on allergic diseases in the first 6 years. Allergy. 2018;00:1–11. https://doi.org/10.1111/all.13650