Allergies: The Foreign Invaders

Sep 19, 2016

Allergies are an immune response to an otherwise harmless substance by the body to some outside factor such as food, animal dander, environmental stimuli like pollen and so on. These symptoms are caused by the release of antibodies that attach themselves to mast cells (white blood cells), releasing histamine. Histamine causes common symptoms like itchy nose, sneezing, swelling and hives. Approximately 2.5 million Canadians self-report to having at least one allergy!

Allergies on the Rise

In Canada we are all familiar with the most common allergies: peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, fish, soy, mustard, wheat, sulphites and sesame seeds. But, why is that all these allergens seem to be on the rise? And why is that an otherwise harmless substance is then treated as a foreign invader to be attacked by the immune system?

A lot of it has to do with the way we are processing our food. For example, the rise of celiac disease and food sensitivities to wheat have almost doubled. Much of this is because wheat is now hybridized (meaning its crossbred with other species of wheat) to create a stronger crop yield. Our bodies therefore find it hard to digest and treat it as a foreign invader in our system.

So, how do we aid and protect our bodies from these harmful invaders? Here are some helpful hints:

Go Organic

If we want to protect our bodies from allergens happening in the first place, it is important that we choose organic produce and foods. Conventional foods are sprayed with all sorts of harmful pesticides that can damage our inner ecosystems. It is important to go back to nature and reduce the toxic load our bodies go through on a daily basis. Simple, healthy, organic foods help to reduce inflammation and boost the immune system, thereby helping to reduce and prevent allergy symptoms.

Stinging Nettle Leaf

Stinging nettle contains histamine, which can actually be helpful in reducing the effects of allergens! It is also known to reduce inflammation in the body and can actually help prevent hay fever at its first sign. The easiest way to take it is in tea form.

Probiotics

Probiotics can help relieve seasonal allergies by strengthening the immune system. Probiotics can strengthen the immune system by improving gut bacteria, since 70 percent of your immune is actually located in the gut. It is important that we repopulate the gut with good bacteria to help prevent and help ward of allergic reactions or lessen their effects. Fermented foods are a great way to add in these helpful bacteria, such as kombucha or sauerkraut.

Turmeric

Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory agent that can help reduce the effects of allergens entering the body. It can help reduce excess mucus in the sinuses and can help heal the respiratory system.

Quercetin

Quercetin helps stabilize mast cells preventing the release of histamine. Foods high in quercetin include onions, peppers, apples, spinach, beans and black and green teas. It is a great remedy for seasonal allergy symptoms such as congestion and sneezing.

Vitamin C

Is known as an anti-histamine and helpful in boosting the immune system. It may help reduce allergy symptoms by destroying the molecular structure of histamine. It can be taken in the form of foods like bell peppers, dark leafy greens and citrus, or through supplementation.  

 

By Marina Dimitrova, RHN, BSW

Marina is a Holistic Nutritionist at our 99 Roncesvalles location. She began her journey in nutritional health during a time when she was dealing with digestive issues. When she decided to remove meat and dairy from her diet, her health issues began to clear up. After graduating from The Canadian School of Natural Nutrition, her focus has been teaching nutritional knowledge to children at an early age so they can grow to live a long and healthy life. Connect with her on Instagram @thewholegoodness.