The biggest spring allergy trigger is pollen. Trees, grasses, and weeds release these tiny grains into the air to fertilize other plants. When they get into the nose of someone who’s allergic, they send the body’s defences into overload, with many of the following symptoms occurring

  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy, runny nose
  • Rashes
  • Feeling tired or ill
  • Hives (a rash with raised red patches)

If we have an immune system that is hyper sensitive, then the body starts to react to food and environmental substances that have never been an issue.

Allergy symptoms are caused by an overactive immune system.   Your immune system produces substances known as antibodies that protect you from unwanted invaders that could make you sick or cause an infection.   When you have allergies, your immune system makes antibodies in response to exposure to things like pollen, dust, or pet hair that it perceives as harmful, even though they aren’t.  The body also produces other chemicals, including histamine which causes inflammation to try and control the spread of these perceived harmful substances.

It’s not the exposure to allergens that are the root cause of your allergies, it’s your body’s overreaction that causes the cascade of allergic symptoms.

Why does our immune system become hyper sensitive?  There are many reason, and it is about identifying these issues and starting to work on regulating our immune system.

Gut health – this is a very important place to start, as around 60% of our immunity is in the gut.  When we eat foods that we may be allergic or intolerant to, our gut lining becomes damaged.  The gut lining is the barrier that  allows what we need to enter the blood stream, and keep the things we don’t want out and it is removed with our faeces.  The gut barrier is exposed to many different substances that can cause damage –  pathogens, food particles, and medication,

When damage occurs, the gut barrier begins to get larger holes in it (leaky gut), allowing undigested food substances and toxins to enter the blood stream.  This then launces an immune response, that can result in the symptoms listed above.  Some of these symptoms are immediate, and some can be up to 24 hours later, making the identification of the offending culprit difficult.

When we keep ingesting these offending substances, we cause more damage to the gut, and we start to react to other foods that we have never had an issue with.  This is the first place I always start with my clients.  Doing a food diary, and noting down any symptoms, helps us to work out what may be the offending food.

Many clients decide to do an allergy test (blood) that gets sent to the States, and is gold standard for identifying these foods, especially the ones that may be hard to pinpoint.

Once we have identified the foods, then we can remove them from the diet, and start to heal the gut, and work on regulating the immune system.

Stress

When you are Stressed,  your body releases hormones and other chemicals, including histamine, the powerful chemical that leads to allergy symptoms. While stress doesn’t cause allergies, it can make an allergic reaction worse by increasing the histamine in your bloodstream.   This causes damage to the gut lining, leading to that cascade effect of poor gut health.   Stress also puts digestion on the back burner, so those foods that need to be digested and absorbed, end up sitting and not getting processed, again leading to poor gut health.  This has an impact on your gut, especially of inflammation and causing damage to the gut lining.   Put some plans in place to manage your stress, deep breathing, yoga, exercise, and getting your work life balance right.

Minimize Exposure to Allergens

Minimizing exposure to allergens certainly can help to try and desensitise that immune system.

Here are steps to reduce your contact with pollen:

  • Close your windows to prevent pollen from blowing inside your home or car.
  • If you have air conditioning, use it.
  • Do activities like light gardening, walking, and other forms of outdoor exercise or chores when pollen levels are relatively low.
  • Pollen Trees and weeds typically release pollen in the morning, while grasses release pollen both morning and night.
  • Get someone else to reduce your heavy gardening chores like grass cutting, weed whacking, and leaf blowing.
  • If you must do these activities, wear a face mask.
  • When you are done, immediately shower, throw all your clothes in the laundry, and wipe down your shoes.

Make your bedroom an allergen-free zone.  Having a good 8 hours every day being free of environmental allergies will help to calm the immune system.

  • Keep your bedroom very clean. Vacuum and dust on a regular basis, especially under the bed where dust can accumulate.
  • Avoid sleeping with pets who bring in pollen and drop their fur in your bed.
  • Don’t use air fresheners, and don’t smoke or let anyone else smoke in the bedroom.
  • Air your bedroom daily (not early morning or evening – see above) The level of air pollutants in the average home is ten times the level of pollutants outside.
  • Dust, pollen, mold spores, tobacco smoke, and pet hair accumulate if your house is sealed shut.

Nutritional Supplements

There are many wonderful herbs and nutrients to help regulate the immune system, and help clear the production of mucus.  My favourite are Vitamin C, quercetin, albizia, and a good quality fish oil and probiotic.

If you would like any further help – please email me @  jane@mintfit.co.nz