Spring is in the air, and so is the pollen. In our area, orange blossoms are filling the air with their sweet aroma. For some people, this is very pleasant, for others, it is an immediate reminder that sniffling, sneezing, itchy eyes, and an itchy throat are on the way. This is good news if you have stock in Kleenex or pharmaceutical companies that make allergy medications. But for those who suffer with these ailments, it can be down right annoying.
Many people who suffer with allergies share with me that they feel their allergies get worse each year as they continue to swallow more and more allergy medications. This is always a red-flag to me that some underlying causes are not getting addressed. It is also important to note that the time to take action is not after the allergy attack has started, but rather build your body and immune system up to prevent or greatly reduce your pesky symptoms. I would like to share with you some of the common underlying factors that can either initiate or aggravate your allergies, and then I will share with you 8 natural solutions you can start implementing today.
Symptoms of airborne allergies are typically triggered when pollen attaches to receptors on a specialized cell of your immune system called a mast cell. When this occurs, these mast cells (which are densely populated in your mucosal membranes) release histamine, which in turn triggers the body to try and rid itself of this pollen—runny nose, watery eyes, itchy skin. Given the fact this process occurs in the immune system, let’s take a look at where 80% of your immune system resides—your gut. When the lining of your gut is broken down due to a diet high in processed foods, antibiotics (from food and medicine), refined carbohydrates and grains, enlarged gaps develop between the cells of the intestinal lining a.k.a. “leaky gut syndrome” allowing undigested food, toxins and bacteria to flow into your bloodstream. This in turn can create excessive inflammation and causes the immune system to become over-reactive.
When someone has a leaky gut, it is often accompanied by a disruption of the normal gut flora causing imbalances of “good vs. bad” microorganisms, along with possible overgrowth of these microscopic beings. Cleaning up the diet and regularly consuming fermented foods such as kombucha, kefir and sauerkraut or taking a high-quality probiotic are essential. Avoiding unnecessary antibiotics is also a key component to promoting healthy gut flora. Sources of antibiotics include prescribed medications along with conventionally processed meats. Recent studies have shown that it can take up to 4 years to restore a normal balance of gut flora after a typical round of antibiotics.
Low levels of Vitamin D have been linked with exacerbating most chronic conditions, including allergies. Even here in the Sunshine State we see an abundance of suboptimal or deficient levels of Vitamin D. Getting your blood level tested is the only way to know if this is a concern for you.
A commonly over-looked driving factor for pestering allergies is adrenal fatigue, secondary to chronic stress. Some of the stress hormones produced by your adrenal glands act as a braking system for your immune system, slowing it down when it becomes over-reactive. Saliva testing is available to easily assess how well your adrenal glands are working.
Addressing these issues before the allergies strike is critical to making the best out of this allergy season. Let’s take a look at 8 Solutions that can transform how you deal with all of those sweet fragrances and pollen floating through the air.
Fermented Foods and Probiotics Regularly eating fermented foods such as kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, and yogurt help to balance your immune system and promote overall health. The only issue here is that most of what you buy in the store has been processed and unfortunately destroyed many of the healthy, naturally-occurring microorganisms. It is relatively easy and simple to make these at home to get all of the benefits. If this is not practical, then take a high-quality probiotic supplement.
Avoid Processed and Refined Foods These foods are usually inundated with inflammatory-promoting ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats, canola and soybean oil, additives and preservatives (the ones you can’t pronounce).
Increase Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids Omega 3’s are commonly found in fish, walnuts, grass-fed meats and eggs. Research has shown that people who have an abundance of Omega 3’s in their diet have fewer allergy symptoms. You can also supplement with a high-quality supplement such as our Omega-3 D Power.
Quercitin This plant-based antioxidant is found in citrus, onions, wine, apples, parsley, cilantro, dill, capers, tea, and broccoli. Initially, you may need to supplement this histamine blocker to get up to speed.
Acupuncture Numerous studies have shown the benefits of reducing allergy symptoms with this ancient healing method.
Exercise People who regularly exercise suffer from fewer allergy symptoms, as this is critical in helping to balance insulin and cortisol.
Neti Pots These have been used in India for thousands of years to help irrigate and flush irritants out of the respiratory passages and sinuses. They can be safely used a couple of times each day during allergy season.
Efficient Elimination It is important to support the different systems that help to rid your body of these various allergens. One of the key organs in this process is your liver. Different herbals such as milk thistle, albizia, shisandra and rosemary help to support your liver and promote efficient elimination. Cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts) and green tea also help to promote detoxification in your liver.