BOOK REVIEW--The End of Food Allergy
We’re all familiar with the 32 million and growing number of Americans with life-threatening food allergies and that 5.6 million of them are children. In their 2020 book, The End of Food Allergies, Kari Nadeau, MD, PhD and Sloan Barnett offer information, guidance, and hope for anyone struggling with food allergies. A frequent contributor to this newsletter, Kristen Stewart reviews their book, sharing their hope for the future.
The End of Food Allergy: The First Program to Prevent and Reverse a 21st Century Epidemic
By Kari Nadeau, MD, PhD and Sloan Barnett
Book review by Kristen Stewart
August 15, 2022
When I recently picked up End of Food Allergy: The First Program to Prevent and Reverse a 21st Century Epidemic by Kari Nadeau, MD, PhD and Sloan Barnett, I saw the proclamation on the cover — "Featuring Immunotherapy." Naturally I thought that was its subject. It turns out I was both right and wrong.
This book does provide detailed information about immunotherapy, the state-of-the-art treatment that can re-educate the immune system in a matter of months to no longer see allergy triggers as cause for alarm. But that is not all. As an added bonus, it takes the reader on a deep dive into everything one needs to know about food allergies.
Dr. Nadeau, Director of the Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy and Asthma Research at Stanford University, has extensive knowledge and experience in the field after decades conducting trailblazing research and working with food allergy families. As a lawyer, journalist and author of the bestselling book about clean and healthy living Green Goes With Everything — and a mother to two children with food allergies who have successfully undergone immunotherapy — Ms. Barnett brings her own important skills and experiences to the duo. The result is a wide-ranging book full of important information that is an interesting, enjoyable read.
"Understanding Food Allergy" is the first section and covers the rising numbers of individuals with food allergies, possible reasons behind it and how food allergies work. It also addresses parental guilt (and why it is not warranted) along with what the research shows when it comes to food allergies and genetics, gestation and C-sections. Finally, it concludes with helpful items on how to make life safer including when preparing food, reading food labels, using epinephrine, and more.
The second section of the book is "The Science of Treating and Reversing Food Allergy." It begins with a chapter about food diaries and descriptions of a number of different tests that can be conducted for diagnostic purposes. Next it discusses the latest findings in trying to prevent food allergies from beginning in the first place such as by encouraging early exposure to a diverse diet after the baby is four to six months old.
Immunotherapy then takes the spotlight with a detailed description of its history, how it works and the different types available. It also addresses the specifics of undergoing immunotherapy from what to expect and how long it will take to the potential cost and what kind of results to expect. It concludes on a hopeful note detailing many advances researchers are working on from creating foods that are less allergenic to the development of ingredient sensors that can detect allergens in foods and wearables that can pick up on the beginning of an allergic reaction. Vaccines and biologic drugs currently being explored are described as well.
The final portion of the book — "Personal and Global Perspectives" — focuses on the implications of food allergies to individuals, loved ones and the world. Living with a food allergy can take an emotional toll on children and families creating stress and anxiety on a day-to-day basis and/or if they decide to undergo immunotherapy. Seeking education and support groups as well as potentially working with a therapist can help.
The section also looks to the future as the amount of people around the world with food allergies continues to increase and climate change brings about the potential of new challenges as plants and pollen adapt to rising temperatures. Finally, the book concludes with lifestyle modifications that can not only help the planet but potentially reduce the chances of a food allergy.
"As a Black parent, I found "The End of Food Allergy" fascinating," says Melissa Mueller-Douglas, the project manager for the Allergy Advocacy Association. "Both of my children were born in the Fall/Winter, reside in New York State, and are diagnosed with life threatening food allergies."
Whether you or a loved one has food allergies or you are seeking to avoid their development in a new baby, this book with its detailed, in-depth information along with actionable items is an important addition to any list of allergy reading.
Dr. Kari Nadeau is a nationally recognized Harvard-trained food allergies expert, clinical researcher and physician at Stanford University.
Sloan Barnett is an attorney, journalist, and author of New York Times bestseller Green Goes with Everything: Simple Steps to a healthier Life and a Cleaner Planet.
Copyright © Allergy Advocacy Association 2022.