Seasonal allergies and gut health – does one affect the other?
Don’t you hate it – the sneezing, the itching, the runny nose? If you are one of the more than 50 million people who suffer from allergies, you know what I’m talking about.
As an allergy sufferer, what do you do? Take over-the-counter medications? Keep the air-conditioning on even on a beautiful day? Stay inside as much as possible? It’s challenging trying to avoid allergens!
But guess what? Emerging research indicates a link between seasonal allergies and gut health.
What are seasonal allergies?
Seasonal allergies, aka hay fever, are allergy symptoms that happen at certain times of the year. Typically this is when pollen is released from trees, grasses, and weeds and when molds release their spores.
Seasonal allergies occur because your immune system thinks these pollens and molds are harmful. White blood cells react and trigger the development of antibodies. These antibodies release a chemical called histamine to attack these intruding offenders.
Histamine is responsible for all those lovely symptoms you experience when exposed to the allergens.
Seasonal allergy symptoms:
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Itchy throat
- Nasal congestion
What is gut health?
You can read in detail about what gut health is all about in one of my previous blog post. But to sum it up, gut health refers to the function of your gastrointestinal tract.
The gut and its bacteria, the microbiome, have a lot of responsibilities. This includes digestion, absorption of nutrients, mood, behavior, and the ability to fight germs. In fact, 70-80% of our immune system is located in the gut.
Poor gut health can lead to all sorts of problems. The symptoms of poor gut health can range from gastrointestinal issues to depression, skin rashes, headaches, and autoimmune disorders.
Signs of poor gut health
How do you know if you have poor gut health? Well, chances are if you do, you know it. Especially if you experience typical GI symptoms. But poor gut health can manifest itself in many ways. You may not realize some of your symptoms are related to poor gut health.
- Abdominal pain
- Excessive gas
- Skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, rosacea
- Unintentional weight loss or gain
- Depression, mood changes
- Brain fog
- Headaches, migraines
- Joint pain
The link between seasonal allergies and gut health
Since the gut and gut bacteria are responsible for so many processes, is there a link between seasonal allergies and gut health? Yes, it appears so!
The gut is home to trillions of bacteria that affect your health. How it affects your health depends on the type and amount of bacteria in the gut. This is unique to everyone just like a fingerprint. You need the right balance of bacteria to maintain gut health.
A study revealed people who have seasonal allergies have a different gut microbiome than those who don’t suffer from allergies. More specifically, a low diversity of bacteria in the gut along with reduced amounts of clostridiales and increased amounts of bacteroidales. Clostridiales and bacteroidales are types of bacteria found in the gut.
Dysbiosis, the alteration of the gut microbiome, increases the risk for all sorts of conditions. This includes allergies. In this case, the alteration is the imbalance and lack of diversity of gut bacteria.
Think about it. An allergy is an immune system response in which it responds to something otherwise harmless as harmful. Since the majority of our immune system is in the gut, it makes sense there is an imbalance to cause this reaction.
What you can do to improve seasonal allergies and gut health
We know if the gut isn’t happy, we aren’t happy. So addressing the imbalance associated with seasonal allergies can help improve your symptoms. How do you do this?
Eat a healthy. and diverse diet!
A poor diet is one of the biggest causes of gut issues.
Be sure to include probiotic and prebiotic foods.
Probiotics replace “good” bacteria and help restore balance in the gut. Prebiotics help support the growth of prebiotics. In other words, they are the “food” for probiotics.
What foods contain probiotics? Fermented foods. Try including foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt and pickles in your diet. To help with the growth of the “good” bacteria, include prebiotic foods such as onions, garlic, beans, apples, and bananas.
Include healthy fats in your diet.
Healthy fats include extra virgin olive oil, avocado, nuts, and salmon. These foods are high in omega-3 fatty acids which help reduce inflammation in the body.
Try to avoid foods that disrupt the gut.
The good bacteria in the gut thrive on fiber – think plants! The bad bacteria thrive on sugar – think overly processed foods. So it’s a good idea to limit foods with added sugars, highly processed foods, and artificial sweeteners. These lead to increased inflammation in the gut.
Other gut disruptors include certain medications such as antibiotics, lack of regular physical activity, excess alcohol intake, and cigarette smoking.
Consider being tested for food sensitivities.
Testing for food sensitivities can help identify which foods are causing symptoms. I recommend the MRT and LEAP therapy to identify specific food and chemical triggers. The results are used to identify a safe list of foods for you to eat without triggering inflammation.
But that’s not all!
Manage your stress and get a good night’s sleep.
Stress can wreak havoc on your immune system and inadequate sleep can cause inflammation. Optimal sleep is important for gut health AND overall health.
Seasonal allergies occur when the immune system overreacts to pollens in the environment. Given that the immune system is largely located in our gut, it seems only logical that the health of our gut influences these immune reactions.
Keeping your gut healthy by eating a healthy. diet with a variety of gut-friendly foods just may. help improve your seasonal allergies.
Need help improving your gut health? I’m here to help! Contact me to schedule a free 10-minute call to discuss which options are best for you or to make an appointment.
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