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  • Julie Matthews

Researchers Identify a Cause of Food Allergies

Food allergies are very common in children with autism, ADHD, and related disorders, and have been significantly on the rise in the last decade.There are many theories and “possible” causes including: the hygiene theory (being too clean), vaccines, eating a food during pregnancy, and more — but now researchers appear to have found at least one actual cause–chlorine.In a study published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology this month, researchers found that “High urine levels of dichlorophenols are associated with the presence of sensitization to foods in a US population. Excessive use of dichlorophenols may contribute to the increasing incidence of food allergies in westernized societies.” That’s simply amazing!Dichlorophenols, are chemical by-product of chlorine (a derivative of phenol containing two chlorine atoms). Chlorine in tap water and pools are one source of dichlorophenols. These chemicals can be also found in pesticides, and triclosan, a common antibacterial chemical used in antibacterial soaps, lipsticks, bodycare products, and embedded in some kitchen towels and other gadgets (as an antimicrobial).This may provide more proof of the “hygiene theory,” or be another cause entirely. The hygiene theory suggests that exposure to allergens and dirt that stimulate the immune system early in life may prevent allergies. It also suggests that maybe it’s because our environment is too clean, and part of that may be due to the chemicals used to clean rather than avoidance of the dirt.Regardless, this study shows these chlorine by-products to be a culprit in food allergies. The cause may be the chemicals themselves, the action that they kill the good bacteria that protects us and supports our immune system, or something new we have yet to discover.Here’s what we do know; these chemicals are bad for our health and can cause food allergies—it’s important to avoid them.Simple action steps:


  • Avoid chlorine

  • Avoid chemical-based antibacterial soaps

  • If you have a pool consider a non-chlorine alternative

  • Get a water filter for drinking water and shower

  • Avoid pesticides

  • Avoid products impregnated with an antibacterial

  • Choose safe body care products (see

While this cautionary approach won’t cure existing food allergies, your family will be healthier by avoiding toxins and you may just help prevent food allergies from developing in the first place. Food reactions are serious business, so the more we learn and empower our healthful choices – the better!

Study: Elina Jerschow, et al. “Dichlorophenol-containing pesticides and allergies: results from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005-2006” Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Volume 109, Issue 6, December 2012, Pages 420–425.

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