Updated: Apr 7
More and more people are suffering from allergies, whether they are seasonal or food allergies. This is quite a big topic, but I will try and summarise what I have learnt and what can you do today if you are suffering from any of these.
What is an allergy?
An allergy is your body's immune reaction where IgE antibodies get produced against a food or some substance in the environment, like pollen in the air. This triggers your body to release histamine from two immune cells, mast cells and basophils- which causes symptoms like rashes, hives, swelling (lips, eyes, ears, nasal tissues, face, tongue, throat), a burning or flushing sensation on the skin, bloating and/or stomach pain, diarrhoea, sneezing, ear pain, coughing, shortness of breath, red and itchy eyes, runny nose. In simple terms, allergies are disorders of the immune system, where your body over-reacts to harmless substances and produces antibodies to attack the substance. The reaction of allergy can be very dramatic (like anaphylaxis, where a person has difficulties breathing and the body can go into a complete shock) or they can be milder seasonal allergies. Nonetheless, people who suffer from any allergies, they know that it takes a toll on the body.
What are common food allergies?
Most common food allergies include wheat, dairy, peanut, tree nuts, eggs, shellfish and soybeans. Some of the other common allergies include allergies to:
Yeast (fermented foods, wine, vinegar, cider, dried fruits, processed meat and fish, canned foods)
Some fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains are believed to promote common allergies, like allergies to latex, ragweed, birch, mugwort, grass, alder- as they carry similar proteins:
Latex-allergy foods (apples, bananas, avocados, carrots, kiwi, celery, melons, papaya, strawberries, pineapple etc)
Ragweed-pollen-allergy foods (bananas, melons, watermelons, cantaloupe, honeydew, cucumber, chamomile tea, pepper, squash, artichoke, zucchini, sunflower seeds)
Birch-pollen-allergy foods (cherries, plums, peaches, pears, nectarines, apricots, bananas, figs, mango, avocado, strawberries, carrots, celery, parsley, till, tomato, cumin, pepper (green), cilantro, potato, fennel, hazelnuts, almond, walnut, peanut, wheat, soy, lentils, peas, beans)
Mugwort-pollen allergy foods (carrots, celery, apples, kiwi, parsley, mango)
Grass allergy foods (figs, kiwi, orange, melon, watermelon, potato, tomato, peanut)
Alder allergy foods (strawberries, peaches, pears, cherries, apples, raspberries, parsley, celery, almond, walnut, hazelnut)
How can you test for food allergy?
You can have either blood test or skin test done to determine the allergic reactions. Most commonly known test, RAST, measures the presence of IgE antibodies in your blood against up to 160 different foods. Skin tests are considered more accurate, where small amounts of allergens are placed on the skin of your arms or back in a grid pattern after what skin is pricked with where allergens were placed. After some time skin is evaluated for different reactions like redness, hives, puffiness.
If you have been diagnosed with food allergy to some food(s), you should avoid those foods completely from your diet.
There are also food intolerances and food sensitivities but this I will cover in another post.
What are seasonal allergies?
Blooming trees and flowers in spring, weeds and freshly gut grass all release pollen, which cause seasonal allergies in many people. And those seasonal allergies run through spring, summer and to early autumn. Most common plants causing seasonal allergies in Europe include ragweed and mugwort.
Certain foods can make your seasonal allergies worse and yearly pollen count increase due to climate change is not helping here either. Also if you have underlying medical conditions, like asthma, high-level of stress, these can put you at heightened risk for having seasonal allergies. A strong immune system is very important to fighting seasonal allergies.
Is it possible for your allergies to diminish or even completely disappear over time?
In children with food allergies, around 20% outgrow peanut allergy by age 8, 75% outgrow dairy allergy by age 3 , and 50% outgrow egg allergy by age 5. However if you develop allergies in your adulthood, the likelihood that they go away are lower, though there are no known studies done to prove this.
With seasonal allergies, it could be that if you are suffering from allergy today but move to a different location with different type of flora, your allergy might go away.
Learning from my closest family and friends experiences, in adults, with seasonal allergies, they don't really disappear. But you can do yourself many things to keep your immune system strong and stress levels under control, so your reactions are not so severe.
What is histamine sensitivity?
Histamine sensitivity results when there is more histamine in your body than your body can handle. Histamine is a normal part of the diet in small amounts and a normal product of the bacteria in your gut. If you are healthy, histamine gets rapidly detoxified by your gut enzymes. But if you have histamine sensitivity, the production of histamine is either too high or the activity of the detoxifying enzymes in your gut too low.
Histamine sensitivity can also be triggered if you have a thyroid condition or if you are taking thyroid hormone replacement drugs. There are also drugs that inhibit the activity of the main detoxifying enzyme, such as antibiotics, antidepressants, muscle relaxants, H2 blockers. Alcohol, especially red wine and beer contain a lot of histamine.
Symptoms of histamine sensitivity are very similar those of allergies and the response is felt fairly quickly after consuming histamine-high foods. Here are just some of the foods that contain significant amounts of histamine: chocolate and cocoa, coffee, fermented dairy products, fermented cured meats, fish, alcoholic beverages (wine, beer, sherry, champagne), tomatoes, sauerkraut, kombucha, pork, fruits (avocados, bananas, grapes, oranges, pineapples, strawberries).
How can you treat seasonal allergies naturally?
It's important to note that over the counter pharmaceutical medications (anti-histamines, eye drops, skin creams) don't cure allergies- they only treat the symptoms and unfortunately cause many side-effects. What is important for you to understand is that when your immune system produces an allergic reaction to something, it’s because it senses that something is not right within your body. Instead of only addressing the symptoms of allergies, you need to uncover and understand the root cause for your allergy and build your own natural defence system. Your body needs to learn again to adapt to allergens.
You can prepare yourself for the allergy season, by avoiding the below foods before and during the allergy season:
If you feel that you did much better with your seasonal allergy if you avoided the above foods, then why not extending it beyond the allergy season and see how you will be doing the next spring.
People who know that they have ragweed allergy, should also avoid:
It's important to eat an anti-inflammatory, alkaline diet. What foods can help you during seasonal allergies (unless you are of course allergic to any of the below foods or you have histamine sensitivity):
Raw local honey (it relieves symptoms because it contains local pollen that is causing your allergies)
Bone broth- rich in minerals and amino acids helping with healing the gut lining
Pro-biotic rich foods- to help to repair your gut lining
Hot and spicy foods (ginger, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, garlic, onion)
Pineapple (because of enzyme bromelain and vitamin B and C)
Apple cider vinegar
Fresh green organic leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, romaine, rucola etc)
Garlic (a natural antibiotic that helps ward off viruses, infections, and allergies)
Lemons and limes (for their detoxifying capabilities and vitamin C)
Supplements that help with seasonal allergies:
Quercetin (stops the production and release of histamine). Great to start taking it before the allergy season starts. Foods such as broccoli and cauliflower, onions, green tea and citrus fruits also contain quercetin
Spirulina (stops the release of histamine)
Bromelain (helps to reduce swelling in your nose and sinuses)
Zinc (helps to heal adrenal fatigue caused by high levels of stress, as stress worsens the symptoms of allergies)
Stinging Nettle (has both antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties
Vitamin A (has antihistamine properties, boosts immune system and fights inflammation)
A good tool to use during seasonal allergies is also a neti pot as it helps to clear your sinuses and to help to treat any upper respiratory conditions, including chronic and acute sinusitis, and also common cold. Make sure you use distilled water and not water from your tap in the neti pot.
What essential oils work with seasonal allergies?
There are two essential oils that are worth to try and incorporate in your daily life during seasonal allergies and these are eucalyptus and frankincense essential oils as they reduce inflammation and improve detoxification of bad bacteria, toxins and microorganism that can trigger allergy attack. You can diffuse them (one at a time), or mix them (one at a time) with a carrier oil and rub on your chest and behind your ears.
There is definitely more to cover with this topic, but hopefully you find some help and guidance from above.