From an evolutionary standpoint, allergy has only recently emerged as a significant health problem. Various hypotheses were proposed to explain this, but they all indicated the importance of rapid lifestyle changes, which occurred in industrialized countries in the last few decades. In this review, we discuss evidence from epidemiological and experimental studies that indicate changes in dietary habits may have played an important role in this phenomenon. Based on the example of dietary fiber, we discuss molecular mechanisms behind this and point towards the importance of diet-induced changes in the microbiota. Finally, we reason that future studies unraveling mechanisms governing these changes, along with the development of better tools to manipulate microbiota composition in individuals will be crucial for the design of novel strategies to combat numerous inflammatory disorders, including atopic diseases.
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