09 Apr

Allergies – as the hay fever season approaches there are some useful things you can do………

As we approach the hay fever season I am
writing about allergies. This will be a first in a series about supporting the
immune system. A balanced immune system is vital for good health and when
something goes wrong it can affect other vital functions in the body like
digestion, liver detoxification, endocrine system and even effect your mood.
Likewise when either of these systems is under functioning they can dramatically
affect immunity.
Allergies can occur when the immune system has
gone a bit wonky.
The immune system’s job is to fight off foreign
invaders. The immune system has a complicated task to keep these things at bay.
Immune cells initially have to deal with the invader by warning other immune
cells that something is here to attack the body. These cells take a little
longer to react but prepare ready for action. In a healthy functioning immune
system immune cells communicate effectively together to keep it in balance.
Once the invader has been dealt with regulatory T cells come in to turn off the
attack. When things go wrong, the immune cells continue to attack and then
start to attack everything, even substances that are not harmful. This is when
allergies can occur.
Symptoms of allergies consist of: nasal
congestion, coughing, wheezing, itching, shortness of breath, headache, fatigue
and hives.
Typical allergens: pollen, dust, certain metals
(nickel), some cosmetics, lanolin, dust mites, animal hair, some common drugs –
penicillin and aspirin, some food additives, washing powder, cleaning products
and many other chemicals. Mould can also be a common allergen and can be
carried by the wind in the summer months.  Some people may also be allergic to certain
foods, common foods are: peanuts, shellfish, nuts and eggs.
Sometimes it is hard to differentiate between a
cold and hay fever some key differences can help you identify, a cold lasts no
more than about 10 days, hay fever will last longer, the discharge from hay
fever is normally watery where as a cold discharge can turn thick and yellow as
the cold develops, hay fever may also include itchy nose, eyes and mouth.
Allergies are more common in non-breastfed
babies and are usually heredity. They can also strike at any age and a stressor
such as life load may also contribute to developing an allergy.
What to do:
·      –  Avoid the offending substance,
this is not always possible especially when it is pollen or you are not sure
what it is that is causing the reaction.
·     –  Probiotics are useful in
supporting the immune system. Aiding digestion and absorption of nutrients,
they are also the first line of defence in immunity.
·     –  Quercetin helps boost
immunity and regulates the secretion of histamine, the substance secreted that
may be making you itchy/scratchy. Quercetin is also anti-inflammatory and a
powerful antioxidant. It is found in apples, onions, berries, capers and
brassica vegetables.
·      – Vitamin D increases
regulatory T cells, which help, turn off the immune response. Supplementation
may be needed.
·      – Eat a diet low in sugar and
refined processed foods to help reduce inflammation
·    –   Balance omega 6 and omega 3
fats to help reduce inflammation. Typically we eat more omega 6 fats as they
are found in sunflower and vegetable oils made to make bread, cakes and
biscuits. Omega 3’s main source is oily fish and flaxseeds. Try to eat oily
fish 2-3 times a week to reduce inflammation.
·      – Eat colour of the rainbow
foods – rich in antioxidants this can help mop up any damaging substances that
are floating around due to an over reactive inflammatory response.  Foods to include: sweet potatoes, ginger, broccoli,
kale, spinach, Cavolo Nero, cabbage, carrots, beetroot, tomatoes and peppers.
·      – Green tea contains
epigallocatechin gallate (what a mouthful) basically it helps control histamine
release and the immune response that is overreacting.
·     –  Nettle has been found to
reduce sneezing and hay fever symptoms in some people again due to the fact it
may reduce histamine. Nettle tea may be useful.
·      – Reduce stressors: meditate or
find ways to relax.
·     –  Calcium and magnesium are
important minerals for helping you relax: green leafy vegetables are rich in
calcium and magnesium. Or have Epsom salt baths, as they are rich in magnesium
and a good way to relax.
·      – Chew your food thoroughly
helping the body digest and absorb nutrients.

Allergic reactions can be life threatening so
always seek advice from your doctor if they are troublesome. They can also be
very life limiting so it is important to try to help the body calm down the
immune response and reduce symptoms.

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