Root Causes to Seasonal Allergies and How to Heal from the Source
Updated: May 17, 2022
It’s that time of year again when the weather finally eases, the birds are singing, and the flowers and trees are in bloom. Some of us jump into the season joyfully while others tend to struggle, dreading the upcoming few weeks. Have you ever wondered why you struggle during the Spring?
What is Allergic Rhinitis (aka: Hay fever or seasonal allergies)?
Allergic Rhinitis is an over-reaction of the immune system due to a long-standing, gradual, accumulation of irritation to the immune system by various different factors.
Symptoms can include:
Congestion (nose, head, ears, lungs)
Runny nose, postnasal drip
Itchy eyes, nose or throat
Increased ear wax
The first step in addressing seasonal allergies is asking:
“WHY is the immune system compromised in the first place?”
Nearly 40% of the population worldwide – and more than fifty million Americans – report suffering from allergies each year. Each one of the following factors, by itself, can lead to chronic seasonal allergies, but most often, it's a combination that leads to and intensifies symptoms.
WHAT ARE THE ROOT CAUSES OF SEASONAL ALLERGIES?
1) Overall gut health (poor digestion, dysbiosis, ‘leaky gut’)
2) Cross reactivity and allergy-aggravating foods
3) Liver congestion / poor detox function
4) Low adrenal function
5) Overall immune function
Let’s dive deeper!
1) OVERALL GUT HEALTH - A Story
Poor Digestion: Low stomach acid and/or pancreatic enzymes cause the maldigestion of food. Stomach acid = first line of defense. Maldigested food sits in the gut, it ferments and then it begins to feed unwanted bacteria and yeast overgrowth (or dysbiosis).
How to support digestion?
Digestive enzymes / Betaine Hcl
Meal spacing (3-6 hrs.)
Eat in a relaxed environment, take your time, enjoy each bite and CHEW
Apple cider vinegar, Lemon or lime water before meals
Bitters / bitter foods (asparagus, artichoke, dandelion greens)
Cook your veggies
Fresh ginger/lemon tea
Other Herbal teas: dandelion, peppermint, cardamom, chamomile, ginger, lemon, fennel
Dysbiosis (abnormal gut microbiome): 80% of our immune system is within the gut. There are billions of normal or 'good bacteria' in the gut that are constantly repairing the intestinal lining, supporting digestion, absorbing and producing essential nutrition and protecting against invaders.
However, when the gut becomes overwhelmed by ‘opportunistic' bacteria/yeast, the good guys can’t do their jobs as efficiently. Over time, this breaks down the gut lining, causing irritation, inflammation, nutrient deficiency, and increased gut permeability or ‘leaky gut’.
Increased Gut Permeability or ‘Leaky Gut’: This is when the lining of the intestinal wall starts to break down and becomes 'leaky' - undigested food, bacteria/yeast, toxins and other substances are then able to get through the gut lining – into the blood stream - where they don't belong.
Since food particles often bear some resemblance to the larger molecules of pathogens, the immune system thinks they're invaders and a threat to our bodies! An immune response is launched! The immune system will then always be on alert for those items to reappear, and when they do, it more readily launches another response.
Starting a vicious cycle: REACT, REACT and eventually - OVER-REACT!
SO, WHAT COMPROMISES OVERALL GUT HEALTH TO BEGIN WITH?
1) Inflammatory & nutrient depleted diets (comprised of sugar & processed foods).
2) Chronic stress
3) Medications / Drug Use (antibiotics, NSAIDS & PPIs)
4) Inadequate sleep
5) Dysbiosis/imbalanced microbiome – inflammation due to ‘bad bugs’
6) Heavy alcohol consumption
Pretty much everyone we've treated for seasonal allergies has shown signs of gut imbalance. Fixing this underlying issue is essential for most people to achieve a hay fever-free life (and optimal overall health).
A Note on Histamine:
Histamine is an important part of the immune system that contributes to necessary inflammation during times of injury and healing. When histamine is unleashed, it sends inflammatory messages and signals throughout the entire body (throat, nose, gut, mouth, brain, skin, and lungs).
This immune response also stimulates an increased production of mucous to flush out ‘invaders’. This immune response and histamine release is what causes most of the symptoms that are associated with seasonal allergies.
Since a leaky gut has allowed this vicious cycle of immune system over-reactivity to develop, then the over-reaction to food particles tends to spill over and create issues to lots of other things. This is called Cross-Reactivity.
2) CROSS REACTIVITY & ALLERGY AGGRAVATING FOODS
The proteins in seemingly different substances can look alike to the immune system, so once it’s reacting to one, it’s more likely to react to all compounds that have similarity.
“Better safe than sorry”!
Allergies are simply indirect ailments of what is occurring within the gut.
Restoring the intestinal flora and intestinal mucous lining is key!
Food allergy/sensitivity is a frequent and important triggering factor. Common symptom-evoking foods include:
Dairy (grass-fed butter seems to be okay for most)
Grains/especially gluten containing
Food additives (sodium benzoate, monosodium glutamate, nitrates)
Trans fatty acids (margarine, shortening, fried foods, hydrogenated oils, some baked goods like donuts)
Here are some other foods you may want to avoid during the Spring season if you have allergies:
GUT HEALING NUTRIENTS:
Fiber - mostly low glycemic fruits (berries, apples) and lots of veggies. Ground flax and avocado are also great sources.
Zinc - oysters, crab, shrimp, scallops, lobster, beef and game meat, poultry, lamb, pork, pumpkin seeds, garbanzo beans, lentils, green peas, spinach, asparagus.
Glutamine - beef, poultry, fish, whole eggs, dairy, cabbage, beets, beans, spinach, parsley, lentils.
Probiotics - sauerkraut, cultured full fat dairy or coconut yogurt, fermented veggies, kefir.
Prebiotics - Onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, dandelion greens (leafy greens in general), oats, flaxseeds, apples with skin.
Antioxidants - berries, artichokes, cabbage, beans, beets, spinach, apples, dark leafy greens, cinnamon, green tea, walnuts, pecans.
Omega 3s - fish, shellfish, seaweeds, walnuts, flaxseed, hemp, chia.
Quercetin - broccoli, onions, apples, berries, green tea, capers, asparagus, citrus, bell peppers, brussels, red onion, spinach.
Apple Cider Vinegar
3) LIVER CONGESTION
The second layer of defense lies within the liver. The liver normally screens the blood for toxins or foreign substances and destroys them or gets rid of them. However, a sluggish liver will leave these foreign substances to continue circulating.
We're bombarded by a huge variety of toxins, day in and day out, through our air, water, food, household and beauty products. This toxic bombardment contributes to the development and progression of seasonal allergies by intensifying the immune system’s tendency to over-react.
HOW TO SUPPORT YOUR LIVER: