I don’t know about all other parts of the country, but currently, Austin, Texas is in a state of ‘allergy season.’
Or so ‘they’ (the allergy sufferers) tell me.
Mold, cedar and pollen= Lots of sneezing, wheezing, headaches, fatigue and feelings of ‘under the weather’.
In fact, 1 out of 5 people are affected.
“I have a pounding headache.”
“I am so tired today.”
“I can’t bear the thought of going outside.”
Just some of the comments I’ve heard today.
Like a plague, seasonal allergies seem to be taking people down, left and right.
Are humans incapable of living amongst plants and pollen?
Have many become that way?
Allergies, even non-food related allergies, all stem back to the immune system.
Our immune system constantly interacts with our internal environment and protects us from our external environment, and provides the innate knowledge for our body to sense the differences in ‘friends’ and ‘foes’. It is what protects us from viruses, bacteria, fungi, and foreign invaders.
Allergies are your body’s reaction to allergens (particles your body considers foreign), a sign that your immune system is working overtime.
When your immune system is not at its peak, you pay for it—especially during allergy season: Sneezing, wheezing, stuffy head, runny nose, headaches, watery eyes and all.
While the strength of our immune system may be attributed to genetics and ‘just the way things are “‘I have always had allergies”), the strength of your immune system to ward off ‘health problems’—like allergies—is also greatly within your own control.
An estimated 80 percent of your immune system is located in your gut, so supporting your digestive health is essential to also supporting your immune system, which is your primary defense system against ALL disease.
Processed food, ingredients you can’t pronounce, excess sugar, gluten and additives all decrease the beneficial bacteria in your gut, in turn, setting up your immune system to invasion from a lot of bad bacteria.
Whenever an overgrowth of ‘bad bacteria’ overwhelms the gut flora, it, in turn, causes various health consequences. Excessive bacterial yeast creates a toxic state for the digestive system. Ultimately, this inflicts the rest of the body with ‘toxins’ (since your digestive system is the command center, where all chemical processes stem and occur). Allergies are most often triggered by an immune system that has been made hyperactive by the growth of such bacterial invaders.
Additionally, if you are not digesting your foods well in the first place, then you may be missing out on some essential nutrients for overall health and immune balance.
As with other systems in your body, balance is key when it comes to optimal health.
I quite honestly never attributed other factors—outside just the darn pollen and mold in the air—to allergies, until the more research I did on the subject.
While you know a number of factors in life influence your overall health (like sleep, diet, exercise, cleanliness), did you know these factors also greatly impact your body’s ability to ward off foreign invaders like seasonal allergies.
In essence: If you have a strong foundation on the inside, then you will be like steel against the invasion of allergens on the outside.
If you have a weaker foundation on the inside, then conversely, allergens are easily going to ‘flare up’ your system.
- Nutritionally low protein intake and Vitamin A and Zinc deficiencies are directly related to immune suppression. Your cells basically need these nutrients for enhanced tissue healing, decreased infection rates, strong T-cell (run the cellular defense) and B-cells (produce antibodies), as well as and hormone function. (Where do you find these foods? Organic grass-fed meats, poultry, and pasture raised eggs for protein; sweet potatoes, carrots, dark leafy greens, bell peppers and cantaloupe for Vitamin A; and for Zinc, seafood, spinach, pumpkin seeds, nuts, dark chocolate, organic beef, lamb pork and chicken, and white mushrooms).
- In addition, a deficiency of essential fatty acids also contributes to poor immunity. Fats increase the anti-inflammatory prostaglandin E1, while decreasing the ‘bad’ PGE2 prostaglandins (responsible for inflammation and irritation in the immune response).
- You’ve heard all about Vitamin C, but maybe not Vitamin E. Both of these, as well, are modulators of free radicals and ward off further invasion from outside forces.
- Vitamin D (‘the sunshine vitamin)—and lack thereof, has been linked to asthma [see article here and here]
- Water (half-your bodyweight in ounces daily at least) is necessary for flushing out impurities from the body.
- Gluten, dairy, and sugar have all been shown to be gut irritants, impacting your body’s assimilation and digestion of all your nutrients.
- And, overwork, multiple stresses, lack of rest, and lack of exercise also deplete our body’s ability to defend ourselves, leaving us even more vulnerable to outside influences.
[Fun fact: Did you know the lymphatic system (the system that removes foreign cells and proteins from affecting our body) has no pump itself, and relies on muscle activity and exercise for the lymph to circulate and regulate? Hence, if you are not getting an appropriate amount of exercise most days, or remain physically more sedentary, your chances of infection increase? Exercise helps improve immune resistance.]
The bottom line?
Deficiencies or inattention to any one of these factors (nutrition, exercise, sleep and lifestyle), are going to put your immune system more at risk to ‘over-activity,’ and, in this case, during this time of year: ‘allergies.’
What if your allergies are really a direct cause of a weakened immune system—not ‘just the pollen or mold in the air’?
Even if you ‘eat clean’ or ‘exercise three days per week’ or ‘try to get enough sleep’, there is always room for improvement.
Instead of reaching for the Claritin, an inhaler or locking yourself indoors, would you be willing to give addressing your nutrition, exercise, sleep and stress in order to ‘feel better’?
Conquering allergies takes a multi-folded approach, including these essentials:
- Optimizing your diet. Less processed food, and gut irritants such as gluten, dairy, sugar; more real food sources, from meats, essential fats (nuts, seeds, olive oil, coconut oil, grassfed butter, avocados, egg yolks, etc.), veggies and water.
- Improving digestive health. Taking a probiotic daily, chewing your food thoroughly, and working with a nutrition therapist or holistic doctor to enhance your own digestion and learn the steps you need to take for your body.
- Boosting the immune system. A daily dose of Vitamin D and a high-quality fish oil for some essential fatty acids, as well extra Vitamin C when feeling ‘under the weather are just a few basic supplements that can benefit practically anyone.
- Evaluating Lifestyle Factors. Not to beat a dead horse, but adequate sleep (feeling rested), low stress levels, and avoiding potential triggers (chemicals in household cleaning products, pollution/smog, etc.) all play a role in immune health—and allergy prevention