Do you know what happens inside your body when you have an allergic reaction, or what the difference is between an allergy and an intolerance? Researching these concepts could take hours of reading, but you can now learn almost everything you need to know about food allergies in just 5 minutes. You simply need to watch Aishani Aatresh’s video, “Allergies in a Nutshell.”
14 year old Aishani has enjoyed video production since she was young and has a strong interest in genetics, biochemistry and molecular biology. She independently produced the “Allergies in a Nutshell” video and entered it into the Breakthrough Junior Challenge. This annual global competition was created for students to inspire creative thinking about science with videos that communicate complex scientific ideas in engaging and imaginative ways. Aishani’s video explains allergic reactions, allergen molecules and causes of food allergies in a way that everyone can understand.
In her video, Aishani compares allergic reactions to the simple idea of “good guys versus bad guys, except the bad guys aren’t actually bad.” Aishani explains “The good guys are our immune system and its antibodies, while the bad guys which were mistakenly identified are allergens.” The video contains many easy to follow explanations of the mechanics behind allergic reactions.
Aishani Aatresh is a highschool freshman at St. Francis Highschool in Mountainview, California. She is allergic to cashews, pistachios, avocado, papaya and intolerant to other fruits. Like many people who manage food allergies, Aishani is careful and pays close attention to ingredient lists, but she has never allowed her food allergies to limit her in any way. In fact, her food allergies have inspired her to innovate and expand her scientific knowledge.
Living with food allergies has led her to develop a passion for studying food allergies. Many of her past science fair projects have been about food allergies, as Aishani hopes to spread awareness and better understanding about food allergies in her school community. For her grade 7 science fair project, she studied the molecular mechanisms of an allergic reaction by creating a computer program and analyzing blood test results for IgE presence. In grade 8 she studied the genetic influences of allergies using genetic data from a random population and found some small correlations. Although she could not identify anything conclusive, Aishani saw these results as motivation for future research, stating “this shows that there’s so much more work that needs to be done.”
Click on Next to watch Aishani’s “Food Allergies in a Nutshell” video.
Aishani’s curiosity and thirst for learning with her desire to educate others about food allergies will undoubtedly lead her to great things in the future. Aishani’s main message to other children with food allergies is to “Own your allergies. Self advocacy is the most important thing a person with food allergies can learn. Read as much as you can and learn as much as you can about food allergies, to help yourself and help others around you understand food allergies.”