10/25/2014 12:22 EDT | Updated 12/25/2014 05:59 EST

Quebec food allergy fair boosts awareness about growing disease

Montreal and Quebec City are hosting Food Allergy Fairs today and next week to help people manage allergies and to raise awareness about allergic diseases on the rise.

Today from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Complexe Desjardins in Montreal, specialists in medicine and food production are holding information sessions for people interested in learning more about allergies. On Nov. 1, a similar fair is being held in Place Laurier in Quebec City.

Allergic diseases – including asthma, eczema, hay fever, food allergies and environmental allergies – are becoming more prevalent.

Dr. Reza Alizajdegar, Assistant Professor of Pediatric Medicine at McGill University, said that’s in part because people have become good at combating infectious diseases. He says a widely accepted hypothesis is that because our bodies don’t need to fight infection as often – or without the help of antibiotics – some people’s immune systems are genetically predisposed to attack foods that wouldn't normally hurt them, such as nuts and seafood.

Staying healthy with allergies

A registered dietitian with the Quebec Food Allergy Association, Abigail Brodovitch, says there are a lot of things people are unsure about, including nutrition. Mothers of young children with milk allergies, for example, need to find other ways to make sure their babies get the nutrients they need.

“We’re looking at kids who have to find alternative sources to make sure that they are getting the calcium that they need, the fat that they need, the calories that they need every day," Brodovitch said.  

“The more foods you add to that list of allergies, the more we’re looking to replace so that the child is getting everything that they need for their growth and development and well-being.”

The focus of the Food Allergy Fair is showing people living with allergies that they have options and that scientific progress is being made to help people living with allergies.

“It’s very important to raise awareness about this health issue that’s affecting a lot of people,” said Brodovitch. “It also allows people to see that they’re not alone, that they’re not facing this important problem alone and to have some support."

- Dr. Reza Alizajdegar and Abigail Brodovitch spoke with CBC All in a Weekend host Sonali Karnick. Listen here: