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Can early exposure to certain bacteria protect toddlers from wheezing?

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Early exposure to certain bacteria may protect toddlers from wheezing, says a new study, "Effects of early life exposure to allergens and bacteria on recurrent wheeze and atopy in urban children," appearing online June 6, 2014 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. This NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIH)-funded study provides evidence of protective effects among inner-city children. Authors are SV Lynch et al. Research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests that exposure to specific combinations of allergens and bacteria within the first year of life may protect children from wheezing and allergic disease.

These observations come from the Urban Environment and Childhood Asthma (URECA) study, which aims to identify factors responsible for asthma development in children from inner-city settings, where the disease is more prevalent and severe. Since 2005, the URECA study has enrolled 560 children from four cities—Baltimore, Boston, New York and St. Louis.

The children all have at least one parent with asthma or allergies, placing them at high risk for developing asthma

The study is following the children from birth, and the current publication evaluates the group through three years of age, reports the June 6, 2014 news release, "Early exposure to certain bacteria may protect toddlers from wheezing." During early life, recurrent wheezing and sensitivity to common allergens are risk factors for developing asthma. In the current study, the researchers measured the frequency of wheezing episodes and levels of exposure to five common inner-city allergens—cat, cockroach, dog, dust mite and mouse. Surprisingly, they found that exposure to cockroach, mouse and cat during the first year of life was associated with a lower risk of recurrent wheezing by age three. Most people don't want a house full of mice and roaches, but a cat may be something children could learn to care for, if the child is old enough to treat the cat with compassion or learn more about healthy cat care.

A smaller study within the URECA cohort tested whether bacteria, measured in house dust, influence asthma risk. Researchers sorted 104 children into four groups: no wheezing or sensitivity to allergens, wheezing only, sensitivity to allergens only, or both wheezing and sensitivity to allergens. They found that children with no wheezing or sensitivity to allergens at age three were more likely to have encountered high levels of allergens and a greater variety of bacteria, particularly those belonging to the Bacteriodes and Firmicutes groups, during their first year of life. These observations support the emerging concept that early-life exposure to high bacterial diversity may protect kids from developing allergies. Most importantly, the findings show that this protection is even stronger when children also encounter high allergen levels during this time.

The URECA study, funded by NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases through its Inner-City Asthma Consortium, is no longer recruiting, but more information is available at ClinicalTrials.gov using the identifier NCT00114881. Additional funding was provided by the NIH's National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. The research was conducted by investigators from several institutions, including the University of Wisconsin-Madison; the University of California, San Francisco; and Johns Hopkins University. Researchers include NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., and Peter J. Gergen, M.D., Medical Officer in the Asthma and Airway Biology Section in NIAID's Division of Allergy, Immunology and Transplantation.

Other studies were done with dogs as a possible protector against asthma and atopy. See, "Cats and dogs and the risk of atopy in childhood and adulthood." That study's abstract explains that exposure to cats and dogs during childhood has been linked to a lower risk of developing allergies. It remains unclear whether this is due to selective avoidance of pets by families with a history of allergies. The effects of pet ownership in adulthood are unknown. The study's conclusions observed that there's a synergistic interaction between cat and dog exposure that is associated with a lower risk of developing atopy in childhood and young adulthood. Atopy is a probably hereditary allergy characterized by symptoms (such as asthma, hay fever, or hives) produced upon exposure especially by inhalation to the exciting environmental antigen.

Do you follow VegFests around the country if you can view videos online of recipes or discussions even though you're in a different part of the nation from where the event is taking place?

If you happen to be in the Sacramento area, you may wish to visit the Sacramento VegFest on Saturday, June 7, 2014 from 10:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Red Lion Hotel, Woodlake Conference Center, Sacramento. Sacramento VegFest is a showcase, to promote, celebrate, and educate the community and visitors about food through the provision of a festival illustrating in living flavor, the wide variety of plant-based foods and products available in the marketplace. There will be world-class speakers, live entertainment, and fun contests throughout the day in addition to the vast array of vegan and vegetarian food samples. See, "Sacramento Vegfest."

The VegFest is happy to present Mariel Hemingway as its Keynote Speaker who also will be signing her book. In addition, Doug Lisle, Ph.D.; Ed Bauer, Champion Vegan Bodybuilder and Chef Brooke Preston will both be Guest Speakers.

Admission is $15 for the day of the event, and free for children ages 12 and younger. You also may wish to check out the Facebook page for the Sacramento VegFest at SacVegFest. On Friday, June 7, 2014 Chef Brooke joined Sac & Co. on the air at 11:30 a.m. to chat more about Vegfest, The Green Boheme (restaurant), and the importance of plant-based food. How does Canneloni with Basil Glaze sound for a little food fun? Tune in for more, says the SacVegFest Facebook page. You also can check out the video clip with Chef Brooke at the Fox 40 station to hear the discussion about VegFest.

On today's Sacramento VegFest page, a delicious vegan recipe appears. Please check it out where it's also posted on the Fox 40 website, and thanks again for having Chef Brooke

You also may wish to visit the Green Boheme restaurant in Sacramento. See the site, "Restaurant Menu | The Green Boheme." The Green Boheme is Sacramento’s organic, vegan, raw foods restaurant and holistic health center – voted “Best Raw Resource” by Sacramento magazine.

Unlike at other vegetarian and vegan restaurants, all our food is gluten-free and soy-free – meaning we serve the purest food throughout Sacramento County. Its passion for health and commitment to gourmet cuisine enables the restaurant to meet rigorous dietary restrictions while satisfying the discriminating palate, and our innovative approach to a plant-based diet has been featured in top media outlets – including ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox.

The Green Boheme located at 1825 Del Paso Blvd, Sacramento, CA 95815, between Arden and El Camino is the only Sacramento restaurant serving food that is organic, vegan, raw, gluten-free, and soy-free. The culinary parameters of our restaurant, combined with the artistic sensibility and creative talents of our chefs, inspire us to make some of the most innovative cuisine available today.

In addition, we are a green restaurant with sustainable business practices, and all our farm-to-plate food supports local agriculture throughout the greater Sacramento area, notes its website. You also may wish to see, "Chef Brooke chats about where the concept for The Green Boheme came from." Or watch the video here.

Here's what's posted on the Sacramento VegFest Facebook page, sharing a recipe from Chef Brooke Preston from the Green Boheme

Sacramento VegFest shared The Green Boheme's status. This morning's recipe from Chef Brooke Preston as seen on FOX40 News:

Tomato Stacks with Feta and Basil Glaze (Note the 'feta' is vegan and made with nuts.)

Serves 4

Have ready: 4 large heirloom tomatoes, preferably of different colors &½ cup basil leaves, thin sliced into ribbons

'Feta':
1c cashews + 1c macadamia nuts soaked for 2-4hrs and drained
1/8 teaspoon probiotic powder
1 cup purified water
2 teaspoons chickpea miso
1/8 onion
2 TB onion powder
1/4c lemon juice
Pinch of white pepper
Pinch of sea salt if needed

Basil Glaze:
1 bunch fresh basil
1/3 cup cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
3 tsp lemon juice
dash salt
dash fresh ground pepper

To prepare the 'Feta', place all ingredients into a high speed blender. Process until smooth and mixture becomes a ball, adding water if necessary. Set aside. For the Basil Glaze, place all ingredients into high speed blender and blend until combined.

Assemble Tomato Stacks by slicing off top and bottom of each tomato and set aside. Slice all tomatoes into 3 thick slices crosswise. Using slices from each tomato, arrange 1 slice tomato, cover with Feta, drizzle with Basil Glaze and sprinkle with basil ribbons.

Repeat for 3 layers using slices from different tomatoes to give color to each stack. Top with fresh ground pepper and dash salt if desired. This recipe is so simple, so delicious, and so beautiful! It’s a Green Boheme favorite this time of year. Enjoy.

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