Aller-sneeze! What could be causing your allergies?
Understanding Allergies and Antihistamines
Allergies occur when our immune system becomes over-sensitive to environmental factors. These could be food, fur, pollen, grass, or something else entirely. However, the symptoms are fairly similar in most cases – runny noses, itchy eyes, sneezing, rashes.
The Role of Histamine
You’ll have heard of antihistamines before, but do you know what they really are? Before going further, we’ll make it clear for you. Histamine is a natural compound that your body produces to trigger a reaction to get rid of something. For example, if there’s something on your skin, it may become itchy. This causes us to scratch and alerts us to whatever has made contact with us that we need to treat or get rid of. This is really important when we come into contact with something dangerous like venom - it’s our body protecting itself. Although, sometimes our body overreacts to certain fairly harmless triggers – dust, fur, grass – and we end up with symptoms. We typically take antihistamine medication to reduce those symptoms and get rid of those unwanted runny noses and scratchy throats.
Nutritional Factors in Allergies
Whilst allergies could be the result of exposure to a particular thing, they could also be the result of nutritional deficiencies. For example, a diet low in vitamin D could inhibit the function of t-cells which, in turn, prevent the release of histamine. Another example is over-consumption of cow’s milk can stimulate excessive mucus production.
The Role of Diet in Managing Allergies
Ensuring that we have a well-balanced diet can really help with how our body reacts. In particular, healthy gut bacteria (probiotic sources – yoghurt, cheese, etc.) and antioxidants (vitamin A, C, and E) are really important when it comes to supporting your immune system against allergies. Other nutrients like vitamin B, D, magnesium, zinc, and omega 3 also play their part.
Specific Nutrients and Allergies
Vitamin B: Deficiency is typically found in bronchial allergy sufferers. Vitamin B, in particular B3, B6, and B12 can help to lower histamine levels which can help reduce symptoms such as wheezing.
Omega 3: Demonstrated to improve symptoms of bronchial allergy.
Vitamin A, C, and E: Powerful antioxidants and natural antihistamines. Studies show that vitamin C may help to reduce allergy symptoms.
Vitamin D: Directly impacts the function of our immunity. Research suggests that low levels of vitamin D are linked to more severe allergy symptoms and that the vitamin can help to moderate over-active responses of the immune system.
Magnesium: Important for the conversion of vitamin D to make it effective in regulating your immunity. The higher your intake of vitamin D, the more important it is to ensure that you also have enough intake of magnesium in order to avoid a deficiency.
Zinc: Used by our body to produce stomach acid. Low zinc intake is linked to improper digestion of food and, subsequently, when our body absorbs proteins from our food into the bloodstream they are too big. In response, and because our immune system cannot recognize the proteins (because they’re larger than expected!), we can stimulate an immune reaction.
The Power of Nutrition
The power of nutrition to improve health conditions always amazes us, but if you’re experiencing reactions, it’s always a good idea to consult your GP for an explanation – book in as early as possible for a quick check-up!