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? First stop: 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 discovered that certain microbes are able to boost your health and can be particularly effective in warding off allergies.
A healthy gut digests everything you eat and is responsible for sending essential vitamins and minerals where your body needs them and getting rid of waste products.
If this system doesn’t work properly, a condition referred to as “leaky gut” develops. Leaky gut is caused by protein particles from digested food entering your bloodstream and confusing the 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.
This inflammation creates common allergy symptoms like sinusitis, postnasal drip and chronic airway congestion. The reaction can also appear as a food allergy symptom, such as 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 anti-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. Antioxidants, including vitamin C, Vitamin D and zinc are also important anti-inflammatory vitamins and minerals Besides lowering inflammation in your gut, these foods help diminish the amount of histamine (a 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, whole wheat 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) by helping to clear out blocked sinuses. If you suffer from seasonal allergies, avoid exercising after rain or midday, as these are when pollen counts are highest. Aim for early mornings instead. Swimming is an ideal anti-allergy option. It’s not only a good cardio workout, the pool environment also provides humid air that helps to clear sinuses, and is gentle on your lungs. Yoga and Pilates are good options too as these help you to focus on breathing and strengthen your lungs.
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. Also, don’t forget that raw honey isn’t suitable for young children!