Your allergies are acting up again and the usual remedies aren’t helping. Maybe it’s time to change your approach and start at the root of the problem - your gut health.
Your body contains trillions of bacterial cells, called microbes, which live inside your gut. Although the idea of having bugs inside you sounds a bit gross, researchers have found that sometimes, microbes can help; particularly with allergies. The gut digests everything you eat and sends essential vitamins and minerals where your body needs it and gets rid of waste.
If this system doesn’t work properly, you have “leaky gut”. Leaky gut is caused by protein particles from digested food that enter your bloodstream and confuse your immune system. The immune system sets off warning bells that there are intruders in your body, and the immune cells attack to protect you. They do this by triggering inflammation in your body.
The inflammation creates common allergy symptoms like sinusitis, postnasal drip and chronic airway congestion. The reaction can also appear as a food allergy symptom. This may include itching, a skin rash, shortness of breath and closing of the windpipe.
Start with your gut
Kick your allergies to the curb by powering up your gut health.
Eat an inflammatory diet
Reducing the inflammation in your gut means you’ll also lower the chance of allergic reactions. Eat plenty of walnuts, non-starchy vegetables, flaxseed, chia seeds and wild-caught fish. Besides lowering inflammation in your gut, these foods help diminish the amount of histamine (compound that causes inflammation) released into your body.
Nourish your gut
Up the good bugs in your gut with probiotics, fibre and prebiotics. Probiotics like kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha and yoghurt are yummy options. To get your fibre fill, go for nuts, seeds, berries, wholewheat bread and oats, legumes, broccoli and carrots. To increase your prebiotics, eat gut-healthy chicory root, garlic, onions, leeks and bananas.
Exercising may ease allergy symptoms (like congestion). If you exercise outdoors, do it early in the morning or in the evening when there’s less pollen in the air. Swimming is a great workout where the environment provides humid air that can clear sinuses, and is gentle on your lungs. Yoga and Pilates focus on breathing and strengthen your lungs. If you suffer from asthma, avoid long-form cardio like running and do resistance training instead. These include stop-and-go exercises that will give you a break between movements.
Boost your nutrients
Certain nutrients can minimise or even eliminate some allergies. This means that where you’re lacking, your symptoms could worsen. Antioxidants, Vitamin C, Vitamin D and zinc are important vitamins and minerals as they reduce inflammation that cause allergies. For example, turmeric provides anti-inflammatory properties. Sprinkle it in curries and meals or blend it in a smoothie. Talk to your doctor about supplements and antihistamine medication.
Good to know
Don’t use any remedy before talking to your doctor. For example, raw honey (also known as local honey) has been said to help with allergies. This hasn’t been scientifically or medically proven. The idea is that when you eat honey, you’re exposed to pollen. And over time, exposure to the pollen will ease or minimise your allergy symptoms. This isn’t a trusted treatment option as there’s no way to measure how much pollen you’ll be exposed to in any amount of honey.