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How personality traits determine how to deal with food allergies


Personality traits influence the handling of food allergies

Food allergies have been increasing for many years. Around six million are affected in Germany alone. New Zealand researchers have now gained new insights that can help those affected to significantly improve their quality of life. They were able to prove that certain personality traits influence the handling of the everyday problems of a food allergy.

Food allergies are increasing

The number of people with food allergies (food allergies) has increased significantly in recent years. According to estimates by the German Allergy and Asthma Association (DAAB), around six million people are affected in Germany alone. Scientists from the University of Otago in New Zealand have now gained new knowledge that can help those affected to significantly improve their quality of life. The researchers were able to prove that certain personality traits influence how everyday food allergy problems are dealt with.

Allergic reactions make life difficult for those affected

In the case of an allergy, the body reacts to normally harmless substances from the environment by producing more antibodies against the supposed source of danger.

With food allergy, not the whole food is the trigger of the reaction, but only a very small part of it.

Allergic reactions to food are generally not limited to certain organs. The most common symptoms are reactions on the skin and mucous membrane, in the ear, nose and throat area, on the bronchi and in the gastrointestinal area.

Itchy rash, sneezing, shortness of breath, flatulence, diarrhea, constipation, nausea and vomiting can occur.

Food allergy is also a major psychological burden.

How affected people cope with everyday challenges

An interdisciplinary scientific team from the Department of Psychology (Dr. Tamlin Conner) and the Department of Food Science (Dr. Rana Peniamina, Dr. Miranda Mirosa and Professor Phil Bremer) at the University of Otago in New Zealand now wanted to find out how adults with food allergies can do this overcome related challenges in everyday life and whether certain personality traits reinforce these challenges.

"This study examines whether individual differences in the expression of the top 5 personality traits (neuroticism, extraversion, openness, tolerance and conscientiousness) have an impact on dealing with everyday problems caused by food allergies," said the leading author Dr. Tamlin Conner according to a message from the study and funding center Ranke-Heinemann.

A total of 108 adults with a diagnosed food allergy took part in the 14-day study published in the journal "Frontiers in Psychology".

The subjects completed an online survey every day, which asked 25 daily food problems, stress levels and mood. According to Dr. Conner was unable to confirm the results of the scientific team's hypotheses.

Openness led to increased problems

"We were surprised that neuroticism did not lead to increasing problems with allergy or to a worse mood on days with more allergy problems," said the expert.

"On the contrary: the personality trait of openness led to increased problems - for example to feeling hungry, because there may not be enough" safe "food available or that adequate adequate food cannot be found when shopping," explained Dr. Conner.

"Furthermore, fears arose in community events that include food or because you feel excluded and misunderstood."

Understand the behavior of children with a food allergy

“It seems that the requirements for dealing with food allergies (routine, careful and consuming the known foods) are in direct conflict with an open personality. This is based on the fact that open personalities strive for exploration, diversity and new experiences, ”says Dr. Conner.

She hopes that the findings will help people understand how personality affects food allergy management.

For example, “open” people could live out their desire for diversity in the area of ​​music or film instead of food. They could also have reserve food in case they spontaneously crave it, ”said the scientist.

“Our findings can also help parents understand the behavior of their children who suffer from food allergies. "Open" children, for example, may have an increased desire for new foods, which could be risky for them, "said Dr. Conner.

"With this knowledge, parents can try to mitigate these challenges and reduce the frequency."

Improve the quality of life of those affected

The Allergy New Zealand organization says that food allergies are a significant burden for many people and welcomes the study by the scientists around Dr. Conner.

"The study focuses on the complexity that adults face with food allergies, not only in New Zealand but also in individual focus," said Mark Dixon, general manager of Allergy New Zealand.

“It's about helping people to better understand their personality traits and their effects and to optimize their handling of food allergies. In the long term, the quality of life of those affected can be improved. ”(Ad)

Author and source information

Video: Managing Food Allergies (August 2020).