Prebiotics consumption reduces risk of allergic rhinitis

By Claudia Adrien

- Last updated on GMT

Getty Images / 	Yuji_Karaki
Getty Images / Yuji_Karaki

Related tags allergic rhinitis Prebiotics microbiome Probiotic Gut health

Prebiotics may reduce the risk of allergic rhinitis (AR) by 66%, compared to no prebiotic consumption, says a new study based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

“These associations provide a new direction for future treatment and prevention of AR. With the increasing global prevalence of AR, AR patients are suffering… their daily work, life, socializing and sleep quality [is severely impacted],” wrote researchers from Hubei University of Medicine in Laryngoscope Investigative Otolaryngology.

AR, also called hay fever, is a non-infectious chronic upper respiratory tract disease that affects 10%-30% of the global population. It can lead to nasal congestion, runny nose, nose itching and sneezing. Currently, drug therapy and immunotherapy are the most used treatments but are sometimes unhelpful. In contrast, prebiotics can be a protective factor for AR patients without diabetes.

Hay fever, seasonal or year-round allergies

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducts NHANES, which is a nationwide survey that assesses the health and nutrition of children and adults in the United States.

Survey respondents are diagnosed with AR if they answered affirmatively to the following three questions:

  • “Do you get symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose or itchy or watery eyes due to hay fever, seasonal or year-round allergies?”
  • “Have you ever been told by a doctor or other health professional that you had hay fever, seasonal or year-round allergies?”
  • “Episode of hay fever in past 12 months?”

The analyses included 87,174 patients with AR who were 18 years and older. The researchers obtained participant information on demographic characteristics, health-related lifestyle and complicated diseases.

Based on data from NHANES, dietary supplement labels were examined to identify products containing prebiotics and postbiotics. Telephone interviews assessed dietary recall regarding prebiotics use. The researchers used the data to determine the association between prebiotics consumption and the risk of AR.

Specifically, they found that prebiotics intake is a protective factor for AR in populations under 65 and over 80 years.

The data from this study suggest that the majority of individuals in the AR group did not consume prebiotics compared to the NAR group, and there was a statistically significant difference, the researchers said.

Nevertheless, there were limitations to the study, including a "lack of in-depth research on the relationship between prebiotics intake and the incidence of AR, such as the dosage, timing and types of [prebiotics]" and how this influences the prevalence of AR, the scientists said. “These factors may provide insights and possibilities for future research in this area.”

However, the study was bolstered by the analysis of probiotics consumption among participants. The researchers found that probiotics use is also a preventative factor for AR and particularly in males. Like the assessment of prebiotics consumption, scientists found a significant correlation between probiotics intake and AR incidence for individuals under the age of 65 and those over the age of 80. There was no protective effect for individuals between the ages of 65 and 80.

The researchers also noted that the population with AR was more likely to be male, white and married and less likely to smoke.

Microbiota imbalance

The gut microbiota plays a critical role in the development and regulation of immunity, and abnormal gut microbiota composition has been associated with allergic diseases, the researchers said.

“Over the past few decades, there has been a significant increase in the prevalence of allergic diseases such as asthma, eczema, food allergies and AR worldwide,” the scientists said. “The hygiene hypothesis suggests that this increase is related to reduced early-life exposure to microorganisms, leading to abnormal gut microbiota composition and subsequent immune dysfunction.”

Recently, the relationship between gut microbiota and AR has drawn much attention. Studies have shown that gut microbiota imbalance is tied to immune-mediated diseases and may cause immune system dysregulation. This can promote the occurrence of AR, the researchers added.

Source: Laryngoscope Investigative Otolaryngology
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1002/lio2.1158
“The relationship between prebiotic intake and allergic rhinitis”
Authors: C. Chang, et al.

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