Potential New Treatment for Food Allergies Found in Common Plant Fiber

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Scientists from the University of Michigan have discovered that inulin, a natural plant fiber, might be a new way to treat food allergies. Inulin is often used in supplements, sodas, and as a sweetener replacement.

In a big step forward, a paper in Nature Materials shows that inulin gel can stop allergic reactions in mice. This gel targets gut bacteria and prevented severe reactions to peanuts, egg whites, and milk. The effects lasted even after the treatment was stopped.

Researchers from various fields, including pharmaceutical sciences and engineering, believe inulin gel tackles the root cause of food allergies, not just the symptoms.

James Moon, a professor at U-M’s College of Pharmacy, led the study. He says inulin gel therapy is promising because it’s safe and can be produced in large amounts. Moon’s lab focuses on creating ways for the body to fight diseases.

More research is needed, but this study could lead to life-changing treatments. Current treatments for food allergies are often not very effective and can have bad side effects.

According to the CDC, food allergies affect about 1 in 3 adults and 1 in 4 children. Managing these allergies is tough because allergens can be hidden in many foods and drinks. Severe reactions can even be fatal.

The study found that inulin gel, when combined with an allergen, helped balance the gut bacteria in allergic mice. This balance led to tolerance to the allergen, reducing allergic reactions.

Fang Xie, a graduate student involved in the study, said the therapy offers long-lasting protection even after stopping the treatment.

Inulin is found in many plants like wheat, onion, asparagus, and chicory. It’s also being studied for its potential in treating cancer, gastrointestinal illnesses, diabetes, and more.

Researchers from various global institutions, including the University of Texas, Dongguk University in Korea, Michigan State University, and Osaka University in Japan, contributed to this study. University of Michigan’s team included experts from the Biointerfaces Institute and departments of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Biomedical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Internal Medicine, and the Mary H. Weiser Food Allergy Center.

Understanding Food Allergies: Food allergies occur when the body mistakenly sees certain foods as harmful. This can cause symptoms like itching, swelling, and trouble breathing. In severe cases, it can lead to death.

Key Insights:

  • Inulin gel may be a new way to treat food allergies.
  • It works by balancing gut bacteria.
  • The treatment showed long-lasting effects in mice.
  • More research is needed before it can be used in people.
  • Food allergies are common and can be severe.


  • University of Michigan study on inulin and food allergies.


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