I had seasonal allergies most of my adult life. I used to have itchy ears, eyes, and nose in the spring and fall every year. Allergies can be debilitating. They are physically draining, emotionally exhausting, and expensive (allergy meds, trips to the grocery store looking for ANY kind of relief…) The height of my allergies would bring an inevitable sinus infection or two, dripping at least two weeks of misery for my family and me. The onset of the infection would trigger my asthma and another two weeks of coughing and wheezing would follow. Does any part of this cycle sound familiar to you or a loved one? Read on, there is hope!
Except for the slight itching of my ears when ragweed is in full bloom, I no longer have allergies or asthma. My allergy suffering is over.
How did this happen? What was the miracle cure?
It’s true. 80% of our immune system lives in our gut. When the gut environment is out of balance, we suffer much more than digestion issues. Illness, depression, malnourishment, arthritis, and yes, allergies may all result from an imbalanced gut.
How did my gut get unbalanced?
1. Environmental factors like stress and anxiety–hormones released from chronic stress kill beneficial bacteria in the gut
2. What I ate or didn’t eat (probiotics and natural fiber)–the chlorine and fluoride in my tap water, and the antibiotics I used to take to treat the sinus infections!
There is hope!
Below are seven allergy blasting tips that have worked beautifully for me and several of my clients. The first two tips had a profound impact on the disappearance of my allergies and dramatic overall improvement of my health.
1. Avoid added sugar in foods and beverages: This is a preventative tip for almost every disease and disorder known to humankind. Consuming added sugar, or foods that turn into sugar in the body (think processed grains), increases inflammation in your body, making the immune response slower to fight off food and/or environmental allergens. Sugar also kills essential flora in your gut, making digestion harder than usual.
With the exception of fruit, vegetables, and some dairy, practice keeping your grams of added sugar to less than five at every meal and snack. Zero grams of sugar is fine as well, as there is not one metabolic function in the body that requires or benefits from added sugar. Reducing your sugar intake is my best tip for fast weight loss too. Instead of foods and beverages with added sugar, look for whole foods like organic fruits and vegetables, organic dairy, non-antibiotic, pastured meat, healthy fats, and 100% whole grains (sprouted when available).
2. Probiotics: In order to properly breakdown and digest all of the food we eat every day, we should consume at least 2-3 servings of fermented foods per day. Examples of fermented foods include apple cider vinegar, kimchi, miso soup, pickled vegetables, plain yogurt, and some cultured cheeses and breads like ciabatta and sourdough. If you are not consuming at least 2-3 servings of fermented foods per day, you may want to add a probiotic supplement. Probiotics help restore the balance to the gut, keeping the digestive process moving along and preventing allergens to linger.
3. Consume foods rich in magnesium every day: Magnesium is an essential mineral BUT in most of our diets, we do NOT get enough. Your body burns through magnesium when you eat sugar and perform exercise. Getting enough magnesium is a vital part of keeping your seasonal allergies under control. A few sources of magnesium include:
- *Bran – wheat, rice or oat – be sure to purchase sprouted bran products so your body can absorb the magnesium. Ezekiel brand offers sprouted products. Food for Life is another brand that offers high quality sprouted products.
- *Flax and sesame seeds – cook with them for a great flavor or sprinkle them on salad or steamed veggies
- *Raw almonds
- *Beans – soaked in filtered salt water for at least 12 hours before cooked
If you are not consuming magnesium rich foods on a daily basis, you may want to consider adding a magnesium supplement. Avoid magnesium citrate, which has a very LOW rate of absorption for most people, but instead look for magnesium chelate or magnesium orotate. Epsom salt baths are another great way to get adequate magnesium as it soaks through your skin in the bath! Additional benefits of magnesium include:
- *Muscle building
- *Maintaining nerve function
- *Keeping a healthy heartbeat
- *Sustaining optimal immune system function
4. Nasal rinse: Neti Pots are the best but a saline spray will also work. There is also a product called “Sinus Rinse” that works great– way less messy than a Neti pot! The nasal rinse helps to remove the allergy irritants from the very sensitive tissue in your nose before they can attack your body!
5. Exercise: As a personal trainer this may be my solution to everything, but I love to tell you, it works. Exercise increases your circulation and your immune system. If you are feeling drained from an allergy attack, take a ten minute walk or bike ride – that is when you need it the most. If you still feel drained after ten minutes, at least you tried and hopefully you got some fresh air. If you start feeling a little better after ten minutes of exercise, KEEP GOING! In most cases, more exercise is better than none. You know your body best. If you need to rest, rest, but please do not use allergy fatigue as a reason to keep you from exercise.
6. WATER: Hydration helps to flush out all of the gunk (non-technical term) in your body. When you have an allergy attack, your body creates a lot of gunk. You know it well because it flies out your eyes, nose and mouth! You should drink half your body weight in ounces of water every day plus an extra 20 ounces for every hour of intense exercise. Caffeinated beverages do not count as water.
7. Local honey: if you know a beekeeper, become friends! Local honey helps to decrease the response from local allergens. Local honey is delicious on plain yogurt, fresh or grilled chicken (with avocado), or drizzled in your hot or cold tea.
I would love to hear what natural remedies work for you!!
*The content of this article is not meant to replace any medical advice. Check with your physician before beginning any exercise, supplemental, or nutrition routine.