Imagine you have a cup. When this cup is full, adding just the tiniest amount to it will cause it to spill over, making a huge mess. This is what happens with allergies. If our cup is full of histamine, we are much more sensitive to external stimuli that are generally harmless, such as pollen. Our body overreacts to this innocuous stimulus and we experience sneezing, runny nose, asthma, itchy nose and eyes, headaches, and throat irritation. What’s the solution? To defeat allergies we need to reduce the histamine that’s in our cup and prevent further histamine from entering it.
In this month’s article, we’re going to specifically discuss how to empty the cup by addressing the food we eat, your gut health, and key nutrient deficiencies that make allergies worse.
Before diving in, it’s helpful to have a basic understanding of what causes allergy symptoms. The key player in allergies are called mast cells. Think of mast cells as a piñata full of candy, and when they’re hit, they open up and release all their candy. In the same way, mast cells can be activated by specific triggers, and once activated, they release a lot of chemicals, with histamine being the main cause of allergies.
Allergies Villain #1: Inflammatory Foods
Inflammatory foods are a big problem for people with allergies. The most common inflammatory foods are vegetable oils (soybean, canola, corn, and safflower oil), added sugar, pesticide-laden and genetically modified foods, dairy, white flour, artificial sweeteners, fillers (carrageenan, polysorbate 80, maltodextrin, and carboxymethylcellulose), and food sensitivities. Food sensitivities can vary from person to person, and can be identified through special blood tests that we can perform at Interactive Health Clinic.
How does inflammation lead to a worsening of allergy symptoms? Inflammatory food increases leaky gut, which allows bacteria and fungi to move from inside the digestive tract to just outside of it, where the mast cells are found. This triggers the mast cells, so they release a lot of histamine, which can contribute to allergy symptoms.
It isn’t just the food we eat that increases histamine in our body, but also the types of microbes in our gut, known as our microbiome.
Allergies Villain #2: Dysbiosis
Dysbiosis simply means an imbalance between beneficial and harmful microbes living in our digestive tract. There are many things that lead to gut dysbiosis, including:
- Eating inflammatory food
- Mold toxicity
- Not enough stomach acid
Normally, healthy bacteria help us break down histamine in our gut. However, if you are experiencing dysbiosis, the harmful bacteria can not only prevent the healthy bacteria from breaking down histamine, but they can also produce histamine! Dysbiosis can lead to inflammation in our gut as well, which reduces Diamine Oxidase (DAO), the enzyme that lines our digestive tract that breaks down histamine.
Addressing gut dysbiosis and healing leaky gut are absolutely critical if you want to help resolve allergy symptoms. The best way to assess for dysbiosis and leaky gut is through a special stool test, which we frequently order at Interactive Health Clinic.
Allergy Heroes to The Rescue: 3 Super Nutrients
In my medical opinion, if you have allergies, healing your gut cannot be emphasized enough. Aside from your gut health, there are key nutrients that help with allergies through various mechanisms. The top 3 super nutrients to help with allergies are vitamin C, Quercetin and B-Vitamins (specifically vitamins B5, B6, B9 and B12).
Super Nutrient #1: Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a fantastic nutrient that seems to help reduce allergy symptoms by actually reducing histamine levels in the blood. In this study, they gave intravenous vitamin C to patients with allergy-type symptoms, such as itching, runny nose, sneezing and congestion. At the end of the study, 29/31 (93.6%) patients were either experiencing no or mild itching, and 23/26 (88.5%) patients were either experiencing no or mild runny nose, sneezing and congestion. Those are drastic improvements!
Super Nutrient #2: Vitamin B
B-vitamins, specifically vitamins B5, B6, B9 and B12, are critical for reducing allergies because they help break down and eliminate histamine from the body. Without sufficient B-vitamins, histamine can build up, causing more allergy symptoms. You can certainly take Vitamin C and B-Vitamins in supplement form, but to maximize the benefits of these nutrients, you can get our Immune Boost IV here at Interactive Health Clinic. In the Immune Boost IV, you’ll also get other beneficial immune nutrients like Zinc and Selenium.
Super Nutrient #3: Quercetin
Finally, we have quercetin. Quercetin is a type of flavonoid that effectively stabilizes mast cells from easily being triggered to release histamine. In other words, quercetin helps to keep the piñata from breaking open too easily. This is critical if we want to help reduce allergy symptoms. The most effective form of quercetin is in a supplement, but it can also be found in foods like leafy green vegetables, red onions, peppers, apples, and raspberries.
If you suffer from seasonal allergies, I want you to know that there is something you can do about it. As you can see, it isn’t as simple as getting an allergy shot or taking some Claritin. Allergies are a symptom of an imbalance in your immune system. While allergies may seem more annoying than harmful, what I want you to take away is that the underlying reason for the allergies, if not properly addressed, will result in other chronic health conditions. Healing your digestive tract and ensuring you aren’t deficient in key nutrients are very important for addressing allergies holistically. To learn more about our Interactive Health approach to personalized medicine, please give us a call at (425) 361-7945
By: Dr. Scott Spiridigliozzi, ND