Relief from Seasonal Allergies
If you’re a seasonal allergy sufferer, you know what it’s like to go through a box of tissues in a few days and turn into a sniffling, snotty mess with red and itchy eyes that feel like they need to be gouged out of your head.
With the southern hemisphere one month into Spring, the season of allergies is well and truly underway. However the good news is that you don’t need to settle for another agonising season of allergies. There are many things that can be done to help get your symptoms under control and hopefully heal your seasonal allergies for good. Reaching for the antihistamines, whilst it may be a quick (although temporary) fix, fails to address the root cause of the problem.
So how do you start to build up your resilience to seasonal allergens?
Heal your gut
With 60% of the immune system being located in the gut it is crucial to address all underlying gut issues. Eliminating potential allergens and intolerances from the diet is important to help reduce inflammation and heal intestinal permeability, a common problem in people with allergies.
An elimination diet is the foundation of building a healthy gut and can help to identify potential intolerances like dairy, gluten, soy, corn, alcohol, and food additives which inflame and damage the gut lining. And of course getting rid of processed, refined carbohydrates and junk food full of sugar and trans fats is of utmost importance. Eliminating these foods from the diet lightens your body’s allergenic and inflammatory load and allows it to rest and be in a better position to handle environmental allergens such as pollens.
Replace foods being eliminated from the diet with anti-inflammatory foods such as nuts, avocadoes, olive oil, blueberries, dark leafy greens, and small fatty fish containing omega 3 fats such as such as sardines, herring and wild salmon. Eat a whole foods diet rich in brightly coloured fruit and vegetables that are high in anti-inflammatory phytonutrients.
Bone broth is also a fabulous addition to your diet for helping to repair intestinal permeability. It’s high in collagen which reduces inflammation whilst also nourishing the gut lining. However it’s probably best to limit consumption of bone broth or avoid altogether during an acute attack of allergies as it contains high levels of histamine and could worsen symptoms when your immune system is already very reactive.
Supporting the liver is critical in reducing your reactivity to allergens. One of the roles of the liver is to detoxify substances which it perceives as harmful, including environmental toxins and allergens. This becomes more challenging if it is already overloaded from regular and excessive alcohol consumption, medications, or poor dietary habits. Eliminate alcohol, coffee, refined carbohydrates and trans fats from your diet and increase your consumption of anti-inflammatory foods as well as spices such as turmeric and ginger, green tea and whole grains and legumes in order to give your liver a break.
Certain supplements can help to bolster your defenses against allergens and strengthen your immune system, repair your gut and reduce inflammation, all processes that modulate your reactivity to allergens. Some of these gut-healing, immune modulating and anti-inflammatory nutrients include fish oil, zinc, carotenoids, glutamine, probiotics and curcumin. Quercetin and vitamin C are also useful in reducing histamine levels and the burden of inflammation in your respiratory system.
Commit to a daily relaxation program
Start daily relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, or breathing exercises. These can all help to relax your vagus nerve, aid your overloaded adrenal glands and reduce excess cortisol levels which contributes to gut inflammation and can worsen seasonal allergies.
Rest and repair through adequate sleep
Make sure you’re getting adequate sleep. Interrupted or insufficient sleep increases inflammation and your propensity towards allergies. If your allergies are interrupting your sleep due to breathing difficulties try sleeping with your head slightly elevated, use an air purifier and sleep with your windows closed. Shower after coming indoors or before bed as this will help to wash the pollen away before going to sleep.
Exercise can help to increase circulation and eliminate toxins. The skin is the largest eliminatory organ of the body so the more you sweat, the more toxins you’re eliminating! Swimming and yoga are both great for allergy sufferers as they involve controlling the breath and can help to strengthen the lungs. Running is also great for improving lung function however if your allergies are preventing you from exercising outdoors you may need to do this on an indoor treadmill. Rowing is another great form of exercise as it helps to build upper body strength and if you’re out on the water you’re likely be further away from the pollens, grasses and trees that are triggering your symptoms.
And last but not least, increase your water intake and aim for a minimum of 2 litres per day. Drinking lots of water flushes your system and supports elimination of foreign substances including allergens that circulate in your system. Consumption of water also helps to thin the mucous in your nasal passages and encourages sinus drainage.