Allergies Need to Be Addressed Using a Multi-Prong Approach. Avoiding triggers can certainly be helpful, but to really address your allergies you need a multi-faceted approach that includes optimizing your diet, intestinal health, and vitamin D levels.
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.
Allergies are a sign that your immune system is in overdrive, and diet, gut health, and vitamin D are all important components that will help optimize your overall immune function.
One common reason for an overactive immune system is “leaky gut” syndrome. If gaps develop between the cells (enterocytes) that make up the membrane lining your intestinal wall, it allows substances to pass through that really should be confined to your digestive tract.
This includes undigested proteins, which can cause allergic reactions. Besides being associated with inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn's and ulcerative colitis, or celiac disease, leaky gut can also be a contributing factor to allergies.
Once the integrity of your intestinal lining is compromised, and there is a flow of toxic substances "leaking out" into your bloodstream, your body also experiences significant increases in inflammation, which places an increased workload on your immune system.
Eating Right and Optimizing Your Vitamin D Levels Is Part of the Long-Term SolutionSo what causes leaky gut? The foods you eat play a paramount role, for obvious reasons.
“Healing and sealing” your gut has been shown to help alleviate allergy symptoms, and the key to this is eliminating inflammatory foods like grains and processed foods, and introduce healthier ones that will support a proper balance of bacteria in your gut. Traditionally fermented foods is one essential component of a gut-healthy diet, but trading out processed foods for whole, fresh (ideally organic) foods is also important.
Additionally, as it pertains to your diet, about one-third of seasonal allergy sufferers have something called "oral allergy syndrome," in which your immune system is triggered by proteins in some foods that are molecularly similar to pollen. Your immune system looks at the protein molecule and says, "Close enough!" and attacks it. If you are allergic to ragweed, for example, you may have cross-sensitivity to melons, bananas, tomatoes, zucchini, sunflower seeds, dandelions, chamomile, and Echinacea. If you have a grass allergy, you may also react to peaches, celery, tomatoes, melons, and oranges. If this applies to you, you’ll want to avoid such foods.
Why Vitamin D Is So Important for Allergy Sufferers. If you have asthma and/or allergies, optimizing your vitamin D levels is absolutely crucial. In fact, research suggests that vitamin D deficiency may be a primary underlying cause of asthma. This means that many are needlessly suffering with a potentially life threatening ailment, since vitamin D deficiency is easily remedied. Vitamin D will also help to up regulate your immune system.
Ideally, you'll want to get your vitamin D from appropriate sun exposure. Beware that using sunscreen when outdoors effectively shields your skin from making any vitamin D. Another alternative is using a tanning bed, or if neither of those options are available, an oral vitamin D3 supplement. If you opt for a vitamin D supplement you also need to boost your vitamin K2. For more information on this, please see this previous article. Whichever way you go, make sure to check your vitamin D levels at regular intervals to make sure you’re within the therapeutic levels of 50-70 ng/ml.
Being Proactive Can Help You Rein in Your Allergy SymptomsIf you’re one of the tens of millions of allergy sufferers in the US, know there is plenty you can do besides reaching for an antihistamine pill. Eating a diet based on unprocessed, ideally organic, and/or locally grown foods, including traditionally fermented foods, along with optimizing your vitamin D levels forms the foundation upon which your immune system can function optimally.
For short-term relief of symptoms, you could give acupuncture a try, and irrigate your sinuses with a neti pot. There are also a number of herbs and supplements that can help alleviate symptoms, as discussed above. For more long-term relief, consider provocation neutralization treatment, or sublingual allergy drops, which work just as well as inhalers.
By Dr. Mercola