Most of us know that gut health and food allergies are closely linked. But what about gut health and seasonal and environmental allergies? Recent research suggests that there is a connection between gut health and seasonal allergies and I’ve seen it proven time and time again with the clients I’ve worked with.
The gut microbiome is home to a variety of beneficial bacteria, which help to maintain good gut health. Butyrate-producing bacteria are especially important for keeping the gut healthy. Unfortunately, adults with seasonal allergies have been shown to have lower levels of butyrate-producing bacteria compared to healthy individuals. Gastrointestinal disorders such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Functional Dyspepsia, and constipation have also been linked to an increased risk of having seasonal allergies, eczema, hives, and asthma. One study even found that people with seasonal allergies and asthma were more likely to have gastrointestinal symptoms than those with other chronic diseases or the general population. The link here is undeniable.
Most people also don’t realize the connection between allergies and excess inflammation.
Anything that causes inflammation can make seasonal allergy symptoms worse. Studies have shown that food allergies, chemical allergies, and even stress can all make us more inflamed, and create more congestion in our nasal passages, skin rashes, and even aggravate asthma. Clients that are dealing with conditions like Leaky Gut Syndrome are typically facing extreme amounts of inflammation due to the fact that the body is not being able to properly filter toxins and often suffer from debilitating seasonal allergy symptoms.
These studies show that there is an important connection between gut health and seasonal and environmental allergies. To reduce this, it is important to focus on optimizing gut microbiome by eating a diet rich in prebiotics, probiotics, and fiber, taking prebiotic or probiotic supplements, and avoiding processed foods and sugary snacks. Additionally, it is important to reduce exposure to allergens and pollutants, as both can contribute to the development of allergies. But let’s take a deeper look at exactly how the connection between gut health and seasonal allergies can affect your everyday life.
Let’s Talk About Histamines
Many unwanted allergy-related symptoms occur when the body produces too much histamine. Histamine is a common and important molecule in our body that acts like a bouncer at a nightclub and helps the body get rid of pests, or in this case an allergy trigger or “allergen.” However, if the body produces too much of it, it can cause a range of unpleasant symptoms such as sneezing, itching, skin rashes, and headaches.
Histamine levels can be affected by our diet, lifestyle, medications, and even the environment. Certain foods, such as aged cheese and fermented foods, can increase histamine levels. Fortunately, certain supplements, such as probiotics, quercetin and DAO may help reduce histamine levels.
Recent research suggests that some probiotics can actually help to reduce histamine levels. Some studies have found that certain types of probiotics, such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, can reduce histamine levels. These findings suggest that probiotics could provide a natural and safe way to reduce the symptoms of histamine intolerance. If you're considering taking a probiotic supplement, it's best to consult a functional medicine professional first to ensure you’re getting a high quality product. Here’s a link to an article with my top tips for making sure you aren’t spending money on ineffective or low-quality supplements.
Let’s Talk About Diet and Allergies
Certain foods can also play a role in triggering unpleasant symptoms like sneezing, coughing, itchy eyes and skin, and runny nose. It’s important to identify your individual triggers and the elimination diet is a powerful tool for those who suffer from digestive issues and allergies to do just that. Through this process, you can experiment with eliminating various foods and ingredients while closely monitoring the results. My nutrition and lifestyle program is specifically designed to help all of my clients through this process. I offer a full recipe book with delicious meal choices for even the strictest phases of the elimination process, a food diary and symptom log to help you track the process, and sample meal plan to make the process as easy as possible.
In some, more severe cases, I also highly suggest strategic testing to identify any underlying GI disorders, allergies, or food sensitivities that could be contributing to the problem. Here’s a link to one of my most popular articles about this subject.
While trigger foods and sensitivities differ greatly from person to person, here’s a look at some of the common culprits:
Dairy Products - Dairy products like milk, cheese, and ice cream are very common allergens. Milk contains casein, a protein which can cause mucus production and irritate the immune system. Even in individuals without a diagnosable allergy to milk, eliminating it from their diet can still lead to improvement in asthma and eczema.
If you’re looking for a substitute, try sheep or goat milk instead. They are naturally healthier animals when compared to the standard dairy cow and thus have a different protein composition than cow’s milk and are less likely to cause the same allergic reactions. Be sure to read labels carefully and make sure that non-dairy cheese substitutes are not just soybean or canola oil based, as they may still contain casein.
Wheat and Gluten - Wheat and gluten are two proteins found in most grains and cereals, and can cause a range of reactions for some people. In addition to breads and baked goods, be aware that gluten can be found in many processed foods such as sauces, gravies, and soups. Reading labels is key to avoiding gluten-containing foods, and there are now more gluten-free products on the market than ever before.
Tree Nuts - Tree nuts like walnuts, almonds, and pecans can cause allergic reactions in some people. If you have a tree nut allergy, it’s best to avoid them completely. Be aware that nut oils and nut extracts can also be sources of tree nuts and should be avoided
Soy - Soybeans and soy products can cause allergic reactions for some people, and should be avoided. Soy can be found in tofu, soy milk, and other processed foods, so it’s important to read labels carefully.
While you should identify your individual allergen triggers, these common foods have been known to aggravate allergies in a general sense. If you suffer from allergies, avoiding these foods can help reduce symptoms, so it’s important to be aware of them and read labels carefully.
If you are interested in trying an elimination diet to identify which foods are causing unwanted symptoms, getting stool testing to gain a clear understanding for confusing GI symptoms, and finding relief through diet and lifestyle changes, I invite you to set up a free consultation here.
It’s time to take control of your health and gain back your quality of life!