What’s Allergy Awareness Week?
As spring approaches, so do allergies for many people. It’s Allergy Awareness Week from 24th – 30th April 2023.
Find out what you can do to manage your allergies for a better quality of life.
What is an allergy?
An allergy is a type of response your immune system produces to certain substances (allergens). In most people, these allergens pose no problem. However, if you’re prone to allergies, then your immune system most likely identifies the allergens as a risk substance and creates a negative response.
It’s estimated that 21 million people in the UK live with allergies. The most common causes of allergic reactions include pollen from plants and grasses, proteins from house dust mites, pets, insects (wasps and bees), some medication, mould and food (most commonly milk, nuts or eggs).
What causes an allergic reaction?
When you come into contact with an allergen, your body produces an antibody response. These antibodies release substances – such as histamine – which can produce reactions and cause discomfort.
Many different symptoms can be experienced, ranging from rashes, swellings, itching, or breathing difficulties, all the way to the more serious anaphylactic shock which is, thankfully, rare.
Most allergies are of the former kind for the vast majority of people. But when someone experiences these symptoms, they can be irritating, life-limiting and may give rise to feelings of anxiety or depression in some badly-afflicted individuals.
Gut microbiome and allergies
Many microbiological studies indicate that allergies have a strong link to altered gut microbiota (bacteria within the gut) in very early life.
Adults with seasonal allergies have been shown to have lower levels of butyrate-producing bacteria compared to healthy people. Butyrate is a short chain fatty acid created through the microbial fermentation of fibre in the gut.
Additionally, children with high levels of butyrate have been shown to have a reduced risk of developing allergies later in life.
Several GI (gastrointestinal) disorders are associated with an increased risk of having seasonal allergies and other allergic conditions. One recent study associated IBS and constipation with increased odds of having seasonal allergies, eczema, and asthma.
The hygiene hypothesis may have some truth when it comes to allergies in the present day. Apparently, improvements in hygiene levels can lead to reduced contact with microbes, which means our immune systems don’t get to know these microbes in early life.
This may create an increased incidence in allergies and autoimmune diseases as a result of an over-reaction when we encounter them later on.
Those of us who are exposed to a range of beneficial microbiota in early life tend to have lower immune system defects due to greater gut flora diversity.
Infants delivered vaginally are colonised with a microbiome similar to their mother’s vaginal tract enriched with Snethia and Lactobacillus species.
Being breastfed, growing up in a household with pets and living in a rural, farm-like environment are other factors that positively influence gut microbiota.
In fact, studies conducted on mice show the composition of gut microbiota shapes the rate and pattern of immune function development. Being exposed to bacteria in early life can reduce susceptibility to allergies and often incidents of inflammation.
Conversely, the overuse of antibiotics and a diet characterised by high fat and low fibre can reduce immune responses and trigger allergies.
At Taymount, we believe enjoying a diverse diet ensures a wide range of gut microbes.
Additionally, by implanting beneficial intestinal bacteria such as Clostridium and Bacteroides from a healthy donor, FMT can modulate gut bacteria to aid optimal gut functionality, and also enhance the production of the T-regulatory cells that are essential for immune tolerance.
Nutritional strategies to manage seasonal allergies
- An elimination diet is the first step for a healthy gut. Try to eliminate common food allergens so you can see what’s healthy for you.
- Consume whole foods as well as a high-fibre diet that’s rich in anti-inflammatory plant chemicals called phytonutrients.
- Try to avoid sugar and trans fats, and focus on eating healthy fats from extra virgin olive oil, nuts, avocados and omega-3 fats found in small fish (sardines, herring, sable, wild-caught salmon).
- Eat the colour of the rainbow as these types of foods are full of antioxidants and can help repair any damaging substances that are floating around due to an overactive inflammatory response.
- Green tea contains a substance that helps control histamine release and an overexposed immune response.
- Nettle tea may reduce sneezing and hay fever symptoms.
- Take some essential supplements, such as probiotics, which provide good bacteria to improve digestion and reduce inflammation. Quercetin also helps boost immunity and regulates the secretion of histamine which may make you itchy. It can be found in berries, capers and brussel sprouts.
- Managing stress is really important as too much stress can damage your gut and magnify seasonal allergies.
To find out how the Taymount Team can help you get your life back on track, click for free a consultation – https://taymount.com/book-a-consultation