Ward off pesky histamines and improve your health at the same time
Allergy has become a catchall term for a spectrum of symptoms that are reactions to anything from irritants in the air or on the skin to certain foods. Regardless of the source, the outcome is the same: an immune response. The immune system releases things like antibodies or histamines to battle perceived foreign invaders. Some of these responses may be in our genetics but they could also be conditions built up over time. Things such as gut bacteria imbalance, poor nutrition, stress, or chronic illness can all tax our immune system. While our genetics can’t be changed, conditions that have accumulated over our lifetimes can be corrected and, in some cases, allergies can be conquered.
All those little reactions have a cumulative effect
Every day you are bombarded by little interlopers that your immune system has to react to. Pollution or pollen in the air, chemicals from things we touch, or a little protein molecule sneaks through the intestinal wall to the blood stream - all these things keep the immune system very busy. On top of that, when the foods we eat are lacking in sufficient enzymes and the pancreas runs low, it’s the immune system that’s called in for backup assistance. Like a busy mom or an overworked CEO, the immune system gets fatigued and can only do its job half as well. The result? We get rundown.
One simple vitamin can make all the difference
When you have a cold you should take vitamin C, it boosts the immune system to help you fight the bug. Think for a second about all the symptoms you have with a cold: runny nose, sneezing, headache... these probably sound familiar to any allergy sufferer. These are all immune reactions that can occur regardless of the cause. So when those allergies flare up, start to increase your intake of vitamin C every way possible. Look for the highest potency supplements you can find, whole food supplements are always best. Then head to the produce aisle and pick up some oranges, grapefruits, papaya, red & orange bell peppers, kale, brussels sprouts, broccoli and strawberries. Eat as many of these foods as you can at every meal. Try to eat the veggies raw as vitamin C can easily be destroyed by heat.
Keep your body clear of the offenders
The world is a dirty place. We can’t always avoid pollution but we can take measures to keep our systems strong and our allergies in check. Here are some solutions:
Regularly flushing with a neti pot is effective in clearing pollens out of your nose before they have a chance to cause a reaction. Many health food stores carry them and some drugstores now do as well.
Choose natural products for use at home. Buy organic, all natural soaps, lotions, shampoo, laundry soap and household cleaners.
If the gut is in poor health the intestinal lining can become inflamed and allow small molecules of under-digested food through to our bloodstream. This will elicit a reaction by the immune system, making it work harder than it should be. Refined foods like white flour and sugar are irritants and they feed the bad bacteria in our gut. Replace them with foods that feed the good bacteria and promote a healthy gut. Eat lots of complex carbohydrates like legumes, vegetables and fruit, minimal grains & meat, and lots of probiotic foods like yogurt, kombucha and miso.
Real Life Examples
If you wonder how diet can possibly relate to seasonal allergies, here’s a story about my friend David, a reluctant dieter who is now a convert. David’s gym had all their participants do a paleo diet challenge for 1 month in the name of getting fit. Turns out there was a surprise bonus side effect in it for him:
“I have had fairly bad seasonal allergies since I was a kid, but after going on the paleo diet, I was shocked to notice that even though it was in the height of allergy season, I wasn't really experiencing them.”
On top of losing 12 pounds and dropping down to 8% body fat, David also discovered that clean eating immediately bolstered his immune system and after about a week on the diet his allergy symptoms were gone. David doesn’t follow the diet as strictly now but does notice a difference when he strays too far.
The cumulative effect of allergies is no more obvious than with Peg’s story. One day she discovered she had a dangerous allergy to pine nuts that caused an anaphylactic reaction. Years later she suffered a traumatic brain injury and part of her recovery included switching to an exceptionally clean, nutrient dense diet. Eventually she discovered (by accident) that she was no longer allergic to pine nuts – or any of the other things that had triggered reactions for her before. Thanks to her strict diet her immune system was functioning optimally and could better deal with the allergens.
You don’t have to follow a super restrictive diet (or join a cross fit gym) to strike back at allergies. With a little discipline and lots of oranges you can breathe easier next spring.