Posted by R. Power on Monday, September 29, 2014
National Coffee Day!Of course National Coffee Day should fall on a Monday! It's exactly what we need to start off October, fall, and to get ready for the cold days to follow. The origins of coffee can be found in the Ethiopian highlands, where legend tells of how a goat herder named Kaldi noticed his goats were more lively and peppy after eating berries from a certain tree which is now known as the coffee shrub. After this observation, Kaldi took the berries to a local monastery where an abbot made a drink with the berries and became alert and awake for many hours. Soon this discovery was shared with other monks, and now the coffee berry (not a bean as you may have thought) is an important part of our international trade and culture.

Although the only processes that we experience with coffee is the grinding and brewing of this commodity (sometimes roasting), the process of obtaining coffee is quite laborious. Planting, harvesting, processing, drying, milling, exporting, tasting, roasting, grinding and then brewing are all of the steps that it takes to get that liquid gold into our mugs, thermoses and ultimately in our tummies. So cheers to those who are putting in the work behind our "fuel", and cheers to those goats who reached up and nibbled on those small, red berries of the coffee brush. There are a variety of restaurants, coffee shops, gas stations and other places giving away a free cup of java in honor of National Coffee Day, so look around, and go get your free cup of joe today!

Author: R. Power

Posted by R. Power on Friday, September 26, 2014
The other night I decided to toss out my old vacuum (whom I will name, "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named" as not to discredit that particular brand) and upgrade to a Miele Twist upright. I weighed the pros and cons, and a couple days later I brought home a shiny, new Sprint Blue upright vacuum. My New Miele Twist VacuumOut of the box there was literally one thing I had to do, attach the handle, and I was ready to go.

I started with my bedroom floor, which much like most of the apartment, is carpeted. Though I'll admit that the Twist is heavier than my old upright, it really scoots across the carpet with little effort. Before I knew it, I was done, but for some reason I didn't stop there. I was using the upholstery tools to clean my mattress, curtains and couch cushions, dusting the ceiling fan (how did I not notice the mountain of filth accumulating up there?), and vacuuming our living room. My curious roommate even gave it a go. She vacuumed her entire room, which really surprised me. She would normally rather have a root canal than clean!

During all this cleaning, a few thoughts occurred to me. "Wow, why am I excited? Having just turned 25(not a mom, homemaker, a homeowner, or even someone who has a strong desire to keep a clean home), why am I cleaning like my life depends on it? Is it because I'm a little nerdy, and the Twist is a bit like a gadget? Do I enjoy quality products?" I had a lot of questions but was short on answers.

This wasn't something I posted on Facebook or Instagram, but I did casually bring it up in conversation with one of my good friends, Ginny. She was surprised to hear me say "Miele" and told me that her mom had a Miele, one that literally mentioned in her mother's will, is to be passed down to Ginny. It was fun and interesting to make that Miele connection.

Soon after, I went to Asheville to visit some friends. To my pleasant surprise, I walked into my friend's house and saw that she had a Miele Plus! I exclaimed "I have a Miele too!" Of course, not everyone knew what I was talking about, but I was still excited to see someone else around my age with a Miele.

Less Than A Week Left to Get a FREE HEPA Filter w/ Every Miele Vacuum Cleaner PurchaseSo moral of my story is, you're never too young to have a superior quality home appliance. You aren't simply paying for a name, but for a lifelong (well, at least, twenty year) investment. And, if you got something good, don't keep it a secret! You'll never know who else may have a Miele in their closet.

Author: R. Power

Don't Forget! This is the last weekend for the FREE Filter w/ Every Miele Vacuum Cleaner promotion. You have less than a week to get a free HEPA filter with any Miele vacuum you buy. $49.95 value

Shop Miele Vacuum Cleaners

Posted by kevvyg on Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Hello Fall!  Goodbye Summer!Officially, fall began about a day and a half ago, but for the last week or so I've been enjoying cool nights and open windows! This time of year is probably my favorite. Aside from it being a little on the dry side, the leaves are changing, there's a chill in the evening air, but warmth during the day. As the temperatures slowly begin to sink towards winter, many of us find ourselves turning our attention indoors, preparing for the colder months ahead. From replacing your HVAC filter to swapping your summer blankets for winter comforters, we all have fall routines. Now is also the time of year when many people turn their attention back to indoor air quality and consider purchasing an air purifier. Before you head to the Shop-O-Mart Superstore and toss one in your cart, consider what you're actually purchasing and if it is really going to help.

Super-Awesome-Never-Needs-To-Be-Replaced-Amazingly-Ultra-Real-True-HEPA-Filtration is the Best!!Selecting an air purifier can be a real hassle. There is a glut of products on the market that range all across the board in terms of price, filtration and features. For now, I want to focus mainly on the models you'll find in your local big box store. You know what I'm talking about. The $50-150 plastic, Made-In-China special that features "Super-Awesome-Never-Needs-To-Be-Replaced-Amazingly-Ultra-Real-True-HEPA-Filtration!!!" Ok, so perhaps I exaggerate just a bit, but you know I'm talking about. There are several points that I want to make about this style of air purifier, so let's just start with the most basic.
  • You Get What You Pay For - The reality is, most of us gave up on the About Like the Westinghouse We Had - They Don't Make 'em Like They Used Too!notion of repairing appliances a long time ago. Thirty years ago you likely would have found at least a handful of people in your local community who repaired home appliances. Replace a part here or there, a new belt, and you were as good as new. While prices certainly haven't gone down, quality and longevity of home appliances have.

    As quick anecdote, growing up, my family had an old Westinghouse refrigerator. Unlike now, back then Westinghouse was made here in the U.S. It was as ugly as sin, weighed as much as a Yugo, and nearly as big. It was a hand-me-down, but by the time it finally died, it was roughly sixty years old! Even then, I think we got $15 out of it just for the steel. Can you imagine a home appliance lasting sixty years? No? Well neither can most manufacturers. There's more money in cheap and disposable than durable and long lasting. It's good to keep this in mind when looking at any home appliance, and the same holds true for air purifiers.

  • Too Good to Be True? - If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don't get caught up in superlatives, glittering generalities, and marketing language. There's a lot of it out there, and ultimately, an air purifier is just another tool that you can use to better control your indoor environment. It's not a cure-all. You won't be running four minute miles or leaping tall buildings in a single bound, but with the right one, you will likely sleep better, wake up feeling better and breathe a little easier.

  • Different Name, Same Place - This is pretty common in the air purifier industry anymore. Notice how several different brands all look the same? It's often because they come from the same factory in China. Often the only difference, particularly amongst cheaper air purifiers, is the name or color.

  • Features - What do you need? Carbon for odors? Don't expect a cheap air purifier to pack much carbon. Sealed systems? Virtually non-existent with these types of models. Want something made of steel that won't off gas? Not going to happen. Ionizers? This... this you can get. Ionization is an inexpensive technology that can produce ozone, but remains a feature built into many less expensive air purifiers, mainly because it can increase filtration rates while using a lower quality filter. It has a high CADR. That means it's the one for me, right? Maybe. Inexpensive air purifiers are often run through the CADR (Clean Air Delivery Rate) test and display good results, but the CADR has its share of drawbacks, so don't let it be the only reason you select a particular model.

  • Filterless Units - Simply don't work. Stop considering or buying them. Let someone else be a sucker. "But Kevin, I can see the dust that the plates are collecting. That means they're working right?" Wrong. My coffee table collects dust, but I don't sell it as an air purifier. These "air purifiers" almost ALWAYS produce ozone, which even in small amounts isn't something you want to introduce into your home.

  • Air Purifier Labels Aren't All They're Cracked Up to BeLabels - Labels can be really helpful. They can give you a quick indicator of some key features. Plus, they lend credibility to products and performance, and that is also where the problem lies. Some labels don't necessarily convey what you think they do. The CADR can lend itself to a false sense of confidence in a product when taken by itself. Air purifiers can even be endorsed by recognized entities yet still not deliver what they promise, and even the Made in the USA logo has been found to have been abused by manufacturers, all to capitalize on sentiment and sell their product. Labels are, well labels. Investigate them. What do they mean and stand for? Talk to people who have used the product, consider the company's reputation, and avoid buying something just because of a label.

Listen, I'm not trying to be too negative. For some people an inexpensive air purifier will do the trick. We offer a few models around $150 on our site. Not everyone can afford a $800 air purifier, and for some people inexpensive models can, and do, help. However, for many people a $50 unit they picked up at the same place they purchased their eggs and bath towels often ends up in a landfill after a few short years. Why? Because of all the reasons I've listed above! And because, unlike your bath towel, the air purifier didn't do what you needed.

If you want more comprehensive information of what types of filtration are out there and what are the qualities you should look for in a quality HEPA air purifier, visit our Air Purifier Buying Guide. In it we give you a thorough overview of the different types of filtration available as well as the information you need to make a solid choice while avoiding the pitfalls of marketer-speak or being overwhelmed by a tidal wave of imitators and snake oil. This is why on this site you'll find more information than any other. From determining which products best meet your needs to finding simple, everyday solutions to help alleviate symptoms, you can find a variety of answers to your questions.

Author: K. Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Thursday, September 18, 2014
Cheap Way to Sanitize Floors - Soniclean Steam Mop A short while ago, we had to discontinue the popular Gruene steam mop. While people really liked the versatility of this steam cleaner, actually getting the product from the manufacturer was increasingly problematic. Fortunately, we realized we have a partner who has nearly the exact same product. So with a different name and color, the 2-in-1 steam cleaner is back in the Soniclean Steam Mop. How is this steam mop different than the Gruene and how can it help you maintain a healthier home through the upcoming flu season?

Soniclean 2-in-1 Steam CleanerWhen you look at the Soniclean steam mop, you'll notice a starting resemblance to the Gruene. From size and style to weight and performance, they are near identical. Why, you ask? Because it's the same machine! It's the same portable steamer that people have liked but at a lower price point and different color scheme.

Beyond the look, the Soniclean steam cleaner is a handy yet powerful addition to your cleaning tool box. Use the included floor pad to sanitize and deep clean your tile, linoleum, laminate and sealed hardwood floors quickly and efficiently. The low moisture content means the floor completely dries in a matter of minutes. With steam that gets as hot as 212° F. the Soniclean uses the simple and clean power of heat to kill germs and flu viruses while unlocking trapped odors and loosening stuck on grime. When you're finished with your smooth floors, you transition to above-the-floor cleaning in seconds.

Detach the body of the steam cleaner from the upright frame and attach your favorite cleaning brush to steam clean countertops, bathrooms, and even clothing. The Soniclean Two-in-One Steam Cleaner is very lightweight, only about eight lbs. (three lbs. when you're using it as a handheld) and includes a shoulder strap for use as a handheld steam cleaner. While using it, most people get eight to twelve minutes of use before having to refill the tank, and unlike cheaper steam cleaners (Lookin' at you, Shark!), as a steam mop the Soniclean only emits steam when you use the trigger on the handle.

Attachments include a garment hand tool, wire brush, three differently shaped/sized nylon brushes, a jet nozzle and more. Best of all, each of these attachments actually fits onto the back of the Soniclean. And, when it comes to the towel for the mop cleaning head, you're not pigeonholed into purchasing only clothes from the manufacturer. Any cloth that is sized right will work!

Steam cleaning is a convenient way to deep clean and kill germs without leaving behind the residues and odors that accompany traditional chemical cleaners. From the kitchen and bathroom to your basement and garage, the Soniclean steam cleaner is a more versatile way to clean. So, don't needlessly expose your family to an array of chemicals when you can clean just as efficiently with just heat and water.

Author: K. Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Late last week many of you likely came across a story about Enterovirus D68 and how it is affecting school children in states across the middle of the U.S. I have to admit, I am a bit behind on this topic, but not having children is the likely reason for me to have missed it (well that and the fact that I average less than eight hours of television per week). Latest Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates confirm a total of just over 100 cases spread across ten states, with that estimate likely being a bit low due to confirmation process. What struck me about this virus were two things. First, I haven't heard of this before, and secondly, it seems to affecting children with asthma at a greater rate and more severely than other children. What is an enterovirus, and how is it spread? More importantly, what can children and adults do to help lessen the spread of this virus?

An enterovirus is a single-stranded RNA virus that is part of a genus containing twelve different species of viruses. Within each species, though, there can be a wide variety of serotypes (variations), but all have high mutation rates. In this case, the name "enterovirus D68" represents the variant of this particular genus of viruses, the 68th. Overall, this genus of virus actually contains some of the worst offenders when it comes to humans, both in severity (polio to hepatitis A) and in breadth of contagion (common cold - the Rhinovirus).

The CDC estimates that 10 to 15 million people each year are infected with the enterovirus, but with majority of these being the rhinovirus (common cold), this statistic is generally one that does not raise concern. What is raising concern is the spread of enterovirus D68, and this is for two reasons.

First, while we first discovered this particular serotype decades ago, it has not been commonly occurring. More importantly, it appears to disproportionately affect those with asthma. Those with asthma or other respiratory conditions are generally more prone to suffer more severe effects from external factors, not only viruses but also pollen and smoke. Smoke makes me cough, but if you have asthma, smoke can cause wheezing or an asthma attack.

A similar situation is what parents are seeing with this virus. While many likely shrug it off as the common cold or flu, CDC Chart of States Reporting Enterovirus D68 Caseswith the child exhibiting symptoms that are most akin to a cold or allergies, children with asthma may experience trouble breathing or wheezing. This is when parents are suggested to act. And recently, they have been.

Overall the scope of the virus is likely underestimated since many will see less severe symptoms, not enough to seek medical treatment. Hospitals and labs aren't likely reporting the full scope since the virus isn't one that is required to be tested for by the CDC. However, the image to the right shows the states reporting infections as of Monday with the lower image showing states reporting as of today. Yes, it is spreading, much like the common cold and flu does each year, and currently health officials are expecting this trend to increase before it finally tapers off with the onset of winter.

What do you do? The main concern right now seems to be with children with asthma. Touch base with your primary care provider and keep in mind what to do if your child is experiencing labored or troubled breathing or wheezing. Milder symptoms are going to be most common amongst children in general and like the cold, with plenty of fluids and rest, they will run their course with little worry. For more severe cases, supportive care is really the most that can be done. Medications to relax airways and supplemental oxygen are most common with the most critical needing ventilators.

In general, there are a couple things to keep in mind. First, enterovirus D68 is making a lot of headlines, but it is generally a mild virus that acts much like the common cold. While all parents will want to be watchful of their children and symptoms, asthmatics are most at risk. Lastly, like the common cold, there is no vaccine or treatment beyond supportive care, so prevention techniques, like frequent hand washing and sanitizing surfaces are important things to keep in mind.

Author: Kevin Gilmore

Tags: Asthma
Posted by kevvyg on Friday, September 12, 2014

Is It Allergies or A Cold?

Every year a question most people struggle with at some point is, "Do I have a cold or is it allergies?". For most people, it's not a terribly difficult question to answer. People who cope with allergies are familiar with the symptoms and can usually tell the difference between the two. But what if you've never been diagnosed with allergies before? Ever Feel Like a Walking Sneeze Factory?I'm fall into this category, and recently had the same allergies vs. cold debate in my head.

Personally, I don't often get sick. Generally once a year or less I'll have the flu, but I've not had the joy of a head cold in quite some time... until last week. I woke up with a sore throat, and while I know for a fact that I was NOT sleeping on a sand dune that night, my throat was telling me otherwise. Congestion was hot on the heels of the sore throat, and later in the day I was a walking sneeze factory. These are three common symptoms for both allergies and the common cold, so how do you tell the difference between the two?

Let's start with the sore throat first. We've all had a sore throat, and the really the only way to describe this is, it hurts! Not slam-your-hand-in-the-car-door hurt, but you know what I mean. With allergies, your throat won't hurt so much as it may itch.

Allergies vs. Cold - Official Scorecard Round 1

One really wonderful thing I got to look forward to was a night of log roll sleeping. This is where I go to sleep on my right side and shortly after not being able to breathe through that side of my nose, I roll over to the left side and the same thing happens. You know EXACTLY what I'm talking about. This was, as it always is, due to congestion. Tissues, toilet paper, even paper towels weren't safe from being filled with nose-goo. It was a never ending faucet of congestion. Congestion and runny nose are common symptoms of both allergies and colds, so how does this help? Ask yourself this. Did whatever symptoms you are experiencing show up together or was their arrival staggered? Symptoms almost all showing up at once is more likely to be allergies while staggered symptoms is often indicative of a cold.

Allergies vs. Cold - Official Scorecard Round 2

Nearly every morning I go through a small fit of sneezing. I'm guessing dust mites, but I do not know for sure. As someone who is classically trained in the art of "do as I say, not as I do," I feel completely right in recommending that if you experience this, make an appointment with your local board certified allergist. Over the first few days of my symptoms, my morning sneezing went on as usual, but randomly throughout the day, I would sneeze, 7, 8, 9, up to 10 times in a row. Sneezing isn't exclusive to colds or allergies. People with either will exhibit this symptom.

Allergies vs. Cold - We Have a Winner!

So that solves it! Cold it was. (Hooray?) It started with one symptom, and like an evil cake recipe kept adding more layers of moist misery - congestion then sneezing. While my situation was solved, there are a few other things to keep in mind. Colds start, then get worse, and ultimately clear up, even with no intervention. Allergies are much more likely to remain consistent as long as exposure remains. So if the ragweed pollen count is high for weeks on end, you're likely to see no improvement in your condition without treatment. An allergy symptom won't just "run its course". Lastly, the symptoms I had aren't the only ones you'll see. Itchy or watery eyes - allergies. Sinus Pressure - Allergies or a cold. Fever - cold (more often the flu). Coughing - a cold and more rarely, allergies.

Super Jumbo Tub of Antihista-Wow!  Not Available Anywhere!So if it's a cold, how do you get over it? The age old methods of chicken noodle soup, a mega-carton of tissues, and a Costco-sized tub of decongestant helps. Much like a fair barker, do nothing and eventually it will go away.

With allergies, the story is different. Unless you're willing to wait weeks or months, they won't just go away. From avoidance to treating the symptoms, there are a variety of things you can do to speed symptoms away and some that can prevent them from occurring (or at least lessen them). Medication is the easiest. Antihistamines, decongestants and other over-the-counter remedies will help, but many carry side effects. More long term solutions are allergy shots and treatments. Over the course of months or years these can help desensitize your system, causing it to react less to harmless allergens.

Avoidance is another way to help yourself, but avoidance requires a little more effort. Avoidance means making your home more hospitable for you and less so for allergens. Cleaning, using a HEPA air purifier, and things a simple as taking your shoes off at the door and regularly replacing your HVAC filter are all good places to start when it comes to avoidance and environmental control. Remedies to help symptoms can be as simple as rinsing your sinuses.

Ever since I was introduced to sinus rinsing, I've been a big fan. I do not have allergies, but I do get the occasional stuffy nose, and as a runner, I will feel "gunky" afterwards from time to time. Rinsing takes about as long as it does to brush your teeth and generally keeps your nasal passages feeling better and you breathing easier for hours.

Generally, maintaining an indoor environment that's more hospitable to you is something that can help year round, particularly since most people will deal with allergies multiple times throughout the year. For more tips on controlling your indoor environment, visit... just about any page on our site!

Author: K. Gilmore

Posted by Kevvyg on Friday, September 05, 2014
It's been creeping up on us for several weeks now. Scattered reports coming in from across the country, the midwest, the northeast... It continues it slow but steady march across the nation. We've tried to push it to the back of our minds, but we can never truly forget. As sure as the sun will rise each morning, IT has finally made its presence known....

Ragweed Allergy Season's Not Quite As Scary As It Sounds Ragweed! What did you think I was talking about? Zombies? Nope, it's ragweed season. You can breathe a collectively sigh of relief that the zombie apocalypse is truly NOT upon us. Well, you could breathe a sigh of relief if your nose wasn't so stuffed up from all of this ragweed pollen.

All kidding aside, ragweed allergy season is here and is likely to stay here for several weeks. While sources like the Weather Channel do seem to particularly enjoy writing a "Worst Allergy Season Ever" article every single year, chances are this year is likely to be about what you'd expect, in other words, pretty average.

Average is pretty good, right? Well, it's certainly better than terrible, but for those who struggle with fall allergies and ragweed season, it will likely feel pretty terrible. Take heart though, each year millions of people are admitted into this club! Aside from taking some solace in the concept of "misery loves company" there are a variety of things you can do to help alleviate symptoms and avoid some of the worst that ragweed allergy season is serving up.

This Is NOT Proper Ragweed Allergen Avoidance... This Is Actually the EXACT Opposite!The first major piece of advice is avoidance. This doesn't mean you have to be a shut-in for the next two months. There are a lot of great outdoor events each fall, and now's the time to find some of the best produce at your local outdoor markets. , but what it does mean is you should take note of days when the pollen count is going to be particularly high and adjust your schedule accordingly. Avoidance isn't just for outdoors. Avoidance indoors can mean a variety of things, from removing pollen that is making it into your home to preventing it from getting there in the first place.

In addition to avoidance proper treatment can make a dramatic difference in how you feel during this time of year. From allergy shots to over the counter medication or simply rinsing your sinuses, there are a variety of treatments available that can lessen symptoms or even lower your sensitivity to ragweed pollen.

Over the years we've written quite a bit about ragweed and how to cope with ragweed allergies. So for more information on Ragweed allergies or more importantly, how to limit ragweed allergies, visit our informative Ragweed FAQs page. Here you can find some of the best and easiest way to combat fall allergies. Have a great weekend!

Author: KevvyG

Posted by kevvyg on Tuesday, September 02, 2014
Shop Miele Vacuums - Free HEPA Filter!Free Miele HEPA Filter with Miele Vacuum PurchaseTo usher in September, we have a couple deals to help you save money on some of our most popular home cleaning appliances. From now until September 30th, purchase any Miele vacuum cleaner and get a FREE HEPA filter!

Miele vacuum cleaners have long been the standard of excellence when it comes to cleaning your floors while keeping the air in your home free of allergens and irritating particles that traditional vacuums spew out as they "clean". Conforming to strict H13 HEPA standards, the new Miele HEPA filter traps 99.95% of particles as small as 0.1 microns. This includes all of the common allergens like dust mites, pet dander, pollen, and mold spores. Most Miele vacuums feature a sealed system in addition to the 9-ply filterbag, and it all three of these components that make a Miele the best allergy vacuum available.

For this limited time each Miele vacuum you purchase will include a free HEPA filter. If the Miele you choose already has one, then the addition of this free filter means you have all the HEPA filters you need for the next two years of use. And, if the model you select doesn't come with a HEPA filter standard, then you've received a free HEPA filter upgrade! Either way, you get a free filter, valued at $49.95. So whether you're looking for a top-of-the-line, premium Miele canister vacuum, a powerful Miele upright or something in between, shop now and save.

Reliable Enviromate Steam Cleaner $100 Discount Extended!

We also have good news for those of you looking for a steam cleaner. Reliable has extended their $100 savings on their premium home steam cleaners. In addition to free shipping, you can now take $100 off the top three Reliable steam cleaners. This includes the dual use Tandem EV1, a canister-style steam cleaner and HEPA vacuum cleaner, all-in-one, as well as the versatile E40 VIVA, and the durable E20 GO. Deep clean and sanitize throughout your home with any of these three models. Each offers a wide variety of accessories and attachments specifically suited to kills germs, remove stuck-on grime, and give you a healthier home, all without the harsh chemicals and fragrances that accompany other home cleaning products. Italian-made, these steam cleaners have a lifetime warranty on the boiler and durable ABS shell for years of consistent cleaning inside and outside your home.

For either of these great deals, there's no need for a coupon code. Simply drop them in your cart and your free filter or $100 discount will automatically be included. Take advantage of either or both of these deals before they expire, and if you have any questions or need some expert advice on which Miele or steam cleaner would best meet your needs, call, email, chat or submit an FAQ to us anytime.

Author: Kevin Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Wednesday, August 27, 2014
In the last two years, there has been an incredible amount of research into what is called the human microbiome - the wide variety of microorganisms that live on and in us. It is still a difficult concept for many of us to wrap our heads around, but research has shown that the cells of all the microbes on and inside of us actually outnumber the total cells that make up the human body and by a pretty wide margin. Only recently have we started to consider the larger roles these tiny cohabitants play in our lives and in our health. Last year I wrote a piece about fungi in the lungs and how the types and numbers of them found in those with asthma vs. control patients varied. More recently, a research piece published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) highlights the link between bacteria in the gut and food allergies.

Mice, Peanut Allergies & Gut Bacteria - Probiotic Solution to Food Sensitivities?Researchers started by examining the role gut bacteria play in food sensitivities and food allergies in two groups of mice. Playing on the "hygiene hypothesis" researchers put together one group of mice that were raised in a sterile environment. In the other group, the mice were given a large dose of antibiotics at just two weeks of age. After being given peanut extract, both groups were observed, and from here researchers began introduction specific groups of bacteria to see if they had any effect on the allergic response. Specifically, Bacteroides and Clostridia bacteria groups were the focus, two types that are commonly found in wild mice.

The results were very interesting. First, mice that were given antibiotics showed a high sensitivity to the peanut extract. Antibiotics given early in life have recently been shown to be linked to a myriad Clostridia Bacteria Introduced Into Gut Reduced Peanut Sensitivityof problems later on, including things like the development of allergies and asthma. Of the second group, the reaction to the peanut allergen was even more severe with some showing signs of anaphylaxis. While the introducing Bacteroides into the gut of mice had little effect, Clostridia was another story.

In both groups of mice, the introduction of Clostridia bacteria into the mice resulted in reduced allergic responses to the peanut allergen. This is extremely important for two reasons. First, it shows a link between specific gut bacteria and the development of allergies, again highlighting the link between the microbiome and the health of the animal. Second, these results point toward the potential of treating food allergies with the use of probiotics.

This study also refines the "hygiene theory" somewhat. While traditionally, it was suggested that a lack of exposure to germs and microbes early on could lead to the immune system overreacting to innocuous substances like dust mites, peanuts, or pollen, these results would suggest that a more sterile environment or perhaps even an overuse of antibiotics could lead to less diverse and less numerous gut bacteria, which would in turn be setting the stage for allergen sensitivity.

While the notion of treating allergies or food sensitivities with probiotics are still many years away, this latest research solidifies the link between gut bacteria and allergies. More importantly, it opens the door for potentially novel, new treatments of allergies, asthma and possibly other allergic diseases.

To read the abstract of this study.

Author: KevvyG

Posted by kevvyg on Thursday, August 21, 2014
Tree nut and peanut allergies are some of the most common as well as some of the most commonly discussed food allergies. Without fail, every year we hear at least a handful of stories about those who are severely allergic coming in contact with and ultimately dying from food allergies. The standard way most deal with food allergies is with allergy shots (or another type of desensitization procedure) or strict avoidance. Yet neither is fullproof. A team of researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture are approaching this problem by not changing the person dealing with allergies but instead by changing the food.

Allergy-Free Cashews? Maybe!Allergy-free peanuts? While it may seem a bit farfetched, this is just what they are working on. Started with a cashew extract (oil), researchers are treating the proteins found in the oil with heat and sodium sulfite. You may recognize sodium sulfite, as it's a preservative commonly found in a variety of foods. What this process does is change the molecular look of reaction-causing protein in the cashew, making it more difficult for immunoglobin (IgE - the antibody that kicks off your body's response, aka, allergic reaction) to recognize and bind with the protein.

Test results showed that when mixing unmodified and modified cashew proteins with the IgE of a nut allergic person, 50% fewer of the IgE molecules bonded with the altered proteins. This is important for a few reasons. Even though this isn't the first experiment to attempt this, it is the first that uses a compound generally regarded as safe (GRAS) to disrupt the protein structure of the allergen. It is also important because unlike other treatments, it is aimed at treating the food, not the person. Lastly, its success shows the potential for reducing or possibly even eliminating the binding of IgE to food allergens, the root of the allergic response.

For now results show a allergy-reduced nut, which isn't as helpful a non-allergenic one. However, these results at least point towards the possibility of this as a solution. What's up next for researchers? Modifying whole cashews then ensuring the cashews still taste they way they should! Until then, avoidance remains the best option for most dealing with severe food allergies.

To read the full abstract of the research.

For more information on food allergies.

Author: K. Gilmore

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