Friday, February 6, 2015

Allergy Season Approaches

When many of us think of allergies we think spring and sneezing, but allergies come in all shapes and sizes, as well as any time of the year.

Indoor Allergies

Some of the dirtiest air is inside our homes. Granted some of that dirt comes in with us when we come indoors. This isn’t just the visible dirt that we can sweep or mop up, but a lot of particles small enough that you can’t see them. One way to keep them out of our homes is to have a ‘mud room’. What’s a mud room? It is a place that you take off your outdoor shoes and jackets and put on your indoor stuff. It doesn’t actually have to be a separate room, just an area inside the most used door that is set up for this exchange.  Getting a microfiber rug for the door your pet uses the most can help as well. Keeping them out of the bedroom helps reduce allergic reactions. We are most vulnerable to allergens at night.

Dry air seems to irritate sensitive sinus tissues, but moist air is a problem for those with allergies. Moisture can cause the growth of molds, and mold is harmful whether or not you have allergies.
Our bedrooms contain more allergens that just our pets. Beds can be home to dust mites. They grow there because our skin particles, that slough off while we sleep are their favorite foods. Barrier covers (think plastic sheeting), frequent vacuuming, investing in an all wool mattress, and frequent sheet washing are all ways of cutting down on dust mites.

People that live in the cities tend to have more airborne allergies than those that live in the country.


The rise in allergies in the industrialized world points the finger to the fear we have of bacteria. There is strong evidence that cleaning and disinfecting our environment too much can cause multiple allergies. One theory is that as children our world teaches our immune system what a danger is and what is not. If we aren’t exposed to healthy bacteria as children our systems may not learn to differentiate between the good and bad bacteria.

While bad bacteria can cause allergies, good bacteria can heal them. Having good bacteria in your gut can prevent and even reverse allergic sensitivities. Taking a probiotic or eating fermented foods can make a world of difference in the way you digest foods. This in turn can feed your immune system and allow it to react appropriately to the allergens.

What we eat may play a major role in our allergic reactions. I am not talking about eating things that we are directly allergic to. I am talking about eating things that both lower our immune system and feed the bacteria that increase our chances of developing allergies.

The chief culprit is sugar. This includes all of the natural sugars as well as things you don’t normally think about, like fruit and fruit juices. Even a lot of the refined foods contain these sugars. If you are suffering from allergies the best thing you can do is to put away all processed foods as well as the sweets and starchy foods. It will seem hard, because the bacteria in your system will try to make you feed them. Being strong in what you eat will lessen the allergy symptoms as well as shorten the allergy attack.

Eating foods that contain large amounts of antibiotics don’t help get rid of the bad bacteria, but it does get rid of the good bacteria that we need to have in order to be healthy. Conventionally grown meats and dairy are the major culprits, but even fruits and vegetables that are coated with herbicides have been shown to impact our healthy gut flora. 

Bug Bites

Tick bites can infect you with bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi. This bacterium does not cause Lyme disease, but it does cause an allergy to meats. The bite causes a rash that is sometimes accompanied by fever, headache, and fatigue and muscle pains. These tend to flare up every time you eat meat.

Food Allergies

We are a lot more prone to food allergies than our ancestors were. They ate foods fresh out of the garden, or off the hoof. Many times this meant they couldn’t eat the same foods year round, but maybe that variety was part of their health. They worked hard and ate home cooked meals. There weren’t a lot of GMOS, food additives, artificial flavorings, preservatives, etc.

On the other hand we eat a lot of processed foods. From the simple things such as fruit juice instead of whole fruits, and packaged foods that can sit on the shelf for months or years. Studies are showing that these things are affecting our health in the form of food allergies. Statistically inner city kids have more food allergies that those from the suburbs or country. Statistically these same kids eat more processed and fast foods than those away from the city centers.

Another reason that we have more food allergies than in the past seems to be linked to the use of antibiotics in our food supply. Antibiotics, even in minute quantities kill the good bacteria that are supposed to live in our gut and help us digest our foods. Without these good bacteria we have difficulty with digestion that leads to a problem called Leaky Gut Syndrome. In simple terms food escapes from our digestive tract and enters the blood stream, where I bodies create antibodies to the food.

What to do

The simplest answer to any allergy is to avoid the triggers. This isn’t always possible. Symptoms can be fought with over the counter medications or natural herbs. Curing the allergy is possible, if you can find the reason why you developed the allergy in the first place. This is not the trigger. It is not what you are allergic to, but why you are allergic to that trigger. Only then can you begin reversing the process. It takes time and not everyone is 100% successful.


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