Could your gut microbiota be the secret to stopping your allergies?

The science behind how a flourishing gut microflora could help protect against allergy.

The human gut microbiota is the layer of friendly gut microbes that line your digestive system. Recent evidence shows that they play a vital role in regulating the inflammatory response, including allergy and intolerance? Could supplementing and supporting the gut flora be an exciting novel therapy for reducing life-altering allergies? (1,2,3)

The spread and variation of different species of bacteria throughout the gastrointestinal tract with the colon containing the majority of the bacterial micro-organisms in the microbiota. (Sartor, 2008) (4)

Do you, or someone in your family, suffer from allergies? Does your summer seem to be a tirade of purchasing antihistamines and rubbing your eyes? Are you a parent that worries endlessly about your child’s allergies and hates to see them suffer? Do you look at milk and wince, knowing the effect your dairy intolerance has on you or spend hours in supermarkets looking for gluten-free products that do not taste of cardboard? If you can resonate with any of the above, then you know the horrors that allergies present, and will be excited by the prospect of a new potential treatment for this, that starts in the human gut microbiome (1,2,3).

Science shows that allergies are just an oversensitive immune response,4. Our immune systems are primed to defend our bodies from threats and protect us against disease. A usual immune response would include a series of steps that kill a pathogen (a disease-causing micro-organism), one of which includes inflammation, which isolates the pathogen so other cells can break it down. In allergy our bodies respond to something that is not a threat (such as milk or pollen) with an immune response, often including inflammation, and it is this that causes the symptoms of the allergic response. Histamine chemicals are released which help signal and increase the immune response and therefore antihistamines are used to dampen this response.

Recent scientific evidence suggests an exciting novel therapy for allergy could lie in our gut. (2) The human gut microbiota is a layer of so-called “friendly” gut microbiota, that line the digestive system. We start colonising this layer right from birth, taking some flora from our mother, and continue to add and change it throughout our lives. Probiotics, which contain live cultures, boost this gut flora (1), and nutritional prebiotics from dietary fibre and supplementation, help the flora to produce small chain fatty acids (SCFA’s)(2). Research (6–11) shows that the gut microbiome boosts the immune cells (called Tregs) that dampen our oversensitive response, and that the SCFA they produce help regulate and reduce the inflammatory response, reducing allergy symptoms. Dietary supplements that help the flora do its life-changing allergy reducing work, could therefore be the way forward in terms of the prevention of allergy from infancy to adulthood (8–11). Follow your gut instincts and reduce your allergies by boosting and feeding the friends in your gut!


1) Bao, R., Hesser, L.A., He, Z., Zhou, X., Nadeau, K.C. and Nagler, C.R., 2021. Fecal microbiome and metabolome differ in healthy and food-allergic twins. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 131(2), p.e141935.

2) Dogra, S.K., Cheong, K.C., Wang, D., Sakwinska, O., Colombo Mottaz, S. and Sprenger, N., 2021. Nurturing the Early Life Gut Microbiome and Immune Maturation for Long Term Health. Microorganisms, 9(10), p.2110.

3) Gołębiewski, M., Łoś-Rycharska, E., Sikora, M., Grzybowski, T., Gorzkiewicz, M. and Krogulska, A., 2021. Mother’s Milk Microbiome Shaping Fecal and Skin Microbiota in Infants with Food Allergy and Atopic Dermatitis: A Pilot Analysis. Nutrients, 13(10), p.3600.

4) Goldsmith, Jason R. and Sartor, R. Balfour (2014) The role of diet on intestinal microbiota metabolism: downstream impacts on host immune function and health, and therapeutic implications. Journal of gastroenterology, 49 (5): 785–798.

5) Koidl, L. and Untersmayr, E., 2021. The clinical implications of the microbiome in the development of allergy diseases. Expert Review of Clinical Immunology, 17(2), pp.115–126.

6) Kourosh, A., Luna, R.A., Balderas, M., Nance, C., Anagnostou, A., Devaraj, S. and Davis, C.M., 2018. Fecal microbiome signatures are different in food‐allergic children compared to siblings and healthy children. Pediatric Allergy and Immunology, 29(5), pp.545–554.

7) Lau, A.W.Y., Tan, L.T.H., Ab Mutalib, N.S., Wong, S.H., Letchumanan, V. and Lee, L.H., 2021. The chemistry of gut microbiome in health and diseases. Progress In Microbes & Molecular Biology, 4(1).

8) Moore, R.E. and Townsend, S.D., 2019. Temporal development of the infant gut microbiome. Open biology, 9(9), p.190128

9) Muir, A.B., Benitez, A.J., Dods, K., Spergel, J.M. and Fillon, S.A., 2016. Microbiome and its impact on gastrointestinal atopy. Allergy, 71(9), pp.1256–1263.

10) Santos, A.F., 2021. Prevention of food allergy: can we stop the rise of IgE mediated food allergies?. Current Opinion in Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 21(2), pp.195–201.

11) Wang, Z., Zhong, J., Meng, X., Gao, J., Li, H., Sun, J., Li, X. and Chen, H., 2021. The gut microbiome-immune axis as a target for nutrition-mediated modulation of food allergy. Trends in Food Science & Technology, 114, pp.116–132.

12) West, C.E., Jenmalm, M.C. and Prescott, S.L., 2015. The gut microbiota and its role in the development of allergic disease: a wider perspective. Clinical & Experimental Allergy, 45(1), pp.43–53.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Laurentia (Laura)Campbell

Laurentia (Laura)Campbell


Neuroscience, mental health and nutrition academic and writer. Life-experimenter, trying to add value with an insatiable appetite for actioning positive change.