Spring is here, which is great and all! But unfortunately for some of us, Spring comes with an ugly case of snotty noses, itchy eyes and a whole lot of congestion. It is now estimated that 55 million Americans suffer from these awful allergies, which is great for over-the-counter drug companies, but what if we told you that these medications are only masking underlying issues…
What does it mean when we have allergies?
The reason why your responses to these environmental allergens are happening is often that your immune system is on high alert due to chronic inflammation. Your overactive, overstimulated immune system becomes hypersensitive to seasonal allergens, and the response manifests itself into symptoms such as itchy eyes, runny nose, sneezing and so forth. This means that there are ways you can naturally manage your allergies.
How can we manage our allergies?
Let’s start with your gut health!
As you’re probably already aware, the gut plays a huge role in your immune system. In fact, nearly 80% of your immune system is located in your gut! Your gut is influenced by the outside world more than any other organ in the body. It consists of bacteria that live in a mutually beneficial relationship with us – they feed us and we feed them. Good gut health can reduce seasonal allergies because it calms the inflammation in order to restore your immune system’s balance.
For those who have been breastfed, had limited exposure to environmental toxins, and never really took antibiotics, you’re already one step ahead of the ‘healthy microbiome’ game. These factors are the building blocks to a solid gut. If you lucked out, that’s okay. You just need to be super conscious about what you eat and how you live…
Now let’s take a look at environmental factors!
New research suggests that healthy and diverse gut microbiome is associated with fewer allergic symptoms. The rates of allergies have been rising in the last few decades as humans become influenced by urban environments.
Adults with allergies have different gut microbiome than those without allergies. According to a study of 1,879 adults released by the National Institutes of Health, a study found that a lack of diversity in the gut microbiota was associated with all types of allergies, especially seasonal and/or nut allergies. Interesting, right?
Our eating habits have become more homogenised with less variety of food sources. People get outdoors less and do less exercise. Humans are taking more antibiotics and they can seriously screw up the gut! All these factors cause our microbiome to lose diversity, decreasing the number and variety of species in the ‘database’ of our gut microbes that help defend the body’s immune system.
The research also highlights that our level of exposure to external microorganisms (or lack of) has impacted our ability to defending new and low-level infections. We need exposure to microorganisms from farming, vegetation and other people so that we can build healthy immune defences against pathogens, rather than an overreactive response.
Okay, cool so now we know that diet and environmental factors play a HUGE role in impacting allergies, how can we fix it?
There are many ways in which we can start caring for our health! For most of you who are reading this, you’re probably already halfway there. Everything begins with a lifestyle change. It will benefit you in so many more ways than just eliminating allergies, but that conversation is for another time. In the meantime, you can try the following:
- Eliminate inflammatory foods: Wheat (for those with sensitivities), dairy, processed foods (meats, packaged food), refined sugars, fried food, alcohol, and some nightshades (tomato, onion, eggplant and peppers specifically).
- Consider a low-histamine diet: Each time your body reacts to an allergen it releases histamine. If your body is consistently producing histamine, it needs more histamine-breakdown enzymes to neutralize it. This is the reason why allergies can all of a sudden appear, even at 25, 45 or 75 years of age; Your histamine load has been building.
- Introduce allergy-fighting foods: Bee pollen, local-honey, ginger, turmeric, oily fish, kiwis, apples, spirulina and berries. Also, try drinking green tea in the morning for ample anti-histamines!
- Add a probiotic to your diet: probiotics containing ‘lactobacillus’ fight allergies.
- Introduce a digestive enzyme: to help restore the gut and aid in the digestion of food.
- Start your day right: warm water, turmeric, local honey and glutamine are all fabulous gut repairers. So, before you have a coffee, swap it out for something that’s good for you.
- Spend time with animals: Exposure to microorganisms can strengthen your immune defence.
- Exercise & Outdoor activities: Exercise and outdoor exposure increase your level of exposure microorganisms.
Although it seems like a task to eliminate your seasonal allergies with a natural approach, not only will you be benefiting from having less snotty noses, but you’ll also feel a lot happier, healthier and mentally alert from healing your body from inflammation, and feeding it with nutrients to help it perform at its best.