ESTIMATED READING TIME 4 MINUTES
Summer is peak season for allergies, but many people suffer all year round. In fact. according to Allergy UK, almost 45% of adults in the UK suffer from at least one allergy. Dust, pollen, perfumes, pet hair and some foods are common triggers. Symptoms can make your life a misery, and in some people, allergies can be life-threatening.
In this blog, you’ll learn why allergies happen. Then you’ll be introduced to some natural strategies to ease your symptoms.
Your immune system has a very tricky job. It needs to protect you from potentially harmful invaders like bacteria and viruses while ignoring harmful substances. When your immune system mounts a full-blown attack on an invader, the arsenal it uses will cause inflammation, and innocent body cells are caught in the crossfire.
Meanwhile, inevitably sometimes your immune system gets this wrong. Then, particles incapable of doing you harm are mistaken for enemies.
Immune cells produce substances like histamine to protect your cells against perceived invaders, boosting inflammation and causing antibodies to be released. The resulting symptoms of redness, swelling, itching, and sneezing will be familiar to you if you suffer from allergies.
It’s tempting to think your immune system has become overactive when allergies happen. However, in reality it has become less able to distinguish between friend and enemy. In other words, it’s lost its selectivity.
Conventional medicine treats allergies with drugs to suppress the immune system, for example by blocking the action of histamine. But these don’t address the underlying causes of the allergy. In fact, if your immune system is allowed to go on malfunctioning, it’s likely further allergies will develop over time.
The bacteria naturally living in your gut have the job of training your immune system. In other words, they teach it to understand what is an enemy and what is harmless. But they won’t do this well if your gut isn’t in good shape. One way to help your gut bacteria function better is by taking a probiotic, a concentrated supplement of beneficial immune-instructing bacteria. Meanwhile, probiotics work best if your diet is gut-bacteria friendly. This means including plenty of plant foods containing natural fibre. Plus, it’s best to avoid sugar because this encourages the wrong types of bacteria to grow.
Omega 3 fats can help to lower inflammation. Unfortunately, the UK diet tends to be lacking in these fats. But, your body needs omega 3’s as it can’t make them for itself. They’re found in oily fish, flax seeds, walnuts and chia seeds. So it makes sense to include plenty of these in your diet.
Stinging nettle has been found to relieve symptoms of allergic sneezing and runny nose by reducing the release of histamine 1. Nettle tea is a delicious alternative to regular tea, or nettle is available as a supplement or tincture.
Pineapples contain a substance called bromelain, known to be anti-inflammatory and to regulate the immune system. Pineapples are also high in vitamin C, an important anti-inflammatory nutrient.
This amazing antioxidant can decrease inflammation in cells. Furthermore, it’s been seen to reduce histamine release and antibody formation 2. It’s naturally found in the skin and peel of fruit such as apples, berries and grapes. In addition it’s found in onions, broccoli and green tea. Quercetin is also available as a supplement.
Vitamin D is essential for your immune system to work correctly. Deficiency in vitamin D is really common in the UK, so it’s sensible to take a supplement. But, do have your levels checked first – a simple blood test can do this.
Functional medicine is all about finding causes for your ill-health. So rather than simply avoiding your allergy triggers, it’s important to discover why your immune system has become so confused and hypersensitive. For example, that might mean investigating your microbiome, as over 80% of your immune system resides in your gut. It may involve finding out whether stress is affecting your immune system. On the other hand you might be missing important nutrients your immune system needs to do its job properly.
I won’t leave any stone unturned because only when the causes of your symptoms are discovered can they be put right. I will use the most appropriate functional tests alongside good old detective work, examining your nutrient status, diet and lifestyle. Then, you’ll be equipped with actionable strategies to naturally overcome your allergies for good. I’ll treat your ill-health at its cause rather than suppressing your symptoms or expecting you to hide away from the world.
Do you need personalised support for allergies? Then book a free 15-minute discovery call to see if Functional Medicine is for you.
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