Many allergens surround us, but relief is available
By Deb Dittner
A warm breeze. Birds chirping. Staying lighter later into the evening. The greening of the grass. The popping up of spring flowers such as daffodils.
The sneezing…watery eyes…runny nose. Ah…allergies!
Seasonal allergies (also known as allergic rhinitis) are triggered by mold spores and pollens from grass, weeds and trees. The symptoms of seasonal allergies can be similar to those of the common cold and include itchy eyes, scratchy throat, fatigue, runny nose, sneezing and a stuffy nose from congestion or blockage. These symptoms may occur from a change in the environment and an increase in pollen production distributed in the air. Some individuals react more forcefully than others as the immune system is being compromised causing the production of antibodies to defend from the attackers on the body.
Approximately 70-80% of your immune system is located in the gut. When the gut is weakened, the immune system is weakened. What weakens the gut? Poor nutrition, increased exposure to toxins and stress cause inflammation and the imbalance between good bacteria and bad bacteria.
What is the best way to support the gut and the immune system? Prevention is first and foremost. There are many ways to treat seasonal allergy symptoms and the root cause of inflammation.
The food you eat plays a large role in your gut health including an overload of sugar, gluten or other processed foods. But even some healthy foods can cause inflammation. Consider an elimination diet to discover what foods your body loves and what foods your body hates in order to develop a real-food plan that works specifically for you encouraging gut healing. Nutrigenomics is DNA based dietary advice per your unique genetic profile. Recommendations are made based on scientific evidence allowing you to eat according to your genes. This testing is performed by a nutrigenomics health care provider.
Boosting the health of the gut is essential as it can take between 12 and 24 months for the adult gut to heal whether it is from types of food or drink, medications or stress. The bacteria in your gut can be thrown off by poor digestion, travel, diets high in sugar and artificial ingredients, environmental toxins, certain medications from antacids to pain medications and the use of antibiotics.
Make sure you incorporate prebiotic and probiotic-rich foods. Prebiotics consist of wheat, walnuts, asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, bananas, legumes, onions, and garlic. When you eat these foods, your good gut flora feast on the prebiotics and multiply crowding out bad bacteria making the good bacteria produce substances to boost immunity. Probiotics consist of sauerkraut (example: eat a couple tablespoons at 15-30 minutes before a meal), kimchi, kefir, pickled ginger, organic miso, fermented vegetables, apple cider vinegar and coconut yogurt.
Always try to incorporate food first but you can consider adding a probiotic supplement if you need added support when working to improve a compromised gut. There are many probiotic supplements to pick from which can lead to confusion. A dose of anywhere from a billion to 10 billion CFUs (colony-forming-units) per day should be sufficient. Consider speaking with your health care provider for guidance. Also adding bone broth, rich in nutrients, can calm a healing gut.
Some remedies to consider
Butterbur is a plant extract used for medicinal purposes. It is most commonly used to treat migraines and hay fever.
Stinging nettle may squelch allergy symptoms, according to some research, by inhibiting the body’s histamine production and therefore decreasing inflammation.
Quercitin has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects and may reduce allergy symptoms. Quercitin can be found in fruits, vegetables and grains.
Such remedies need to be started four to six weeks before you anticipate allergy symptoms to begin. Please be sure to consult your primary care provider before beginning any of these remedies.
Seasonal allergies can be uncomfortable, but they are treatable. Avoiding the allergens causing your symptoms should be encouraged. Discussing your symptoms with your health care provider can help determine the cause of your symptoms and help in planning the necessary steps to decrease or eliminate the symptoms.
Deborah Dittner is a family nurse practitioner and health consultant. Her mission is to transform as many individuals as possible through nutrition and lifestyle changes.
For more information, check out her website at www.debdittner.com or contact her at 518-596-8565.