How to spring clean your gut this allergy season
If you suffer allergies through spring, you will be pleased to know your diet could help. Try spring cleaning your gut with these tips to soothe your symptoms.
Hay fever affects 4.6 million Aussies and, while antihistamines can help, so can the contents of your pantry.
As 70-80 per cent of the immune cells of the body are in the gut, naturopath Tara Brooks says we must address gut health to begin to calm down the overactive immune system associated with seasonal allergies.
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How gut health is connected to allergies
Researchers have identified a link between gut health and a rising incidence of allergies in recent decades.
“There’s a connection between seasonal allergies and the types of beneficial bacteria (probiotics) found in the gut,” Tara says.
“The use of probiotics is extensive these days, including as treatment for seasonal allergies.”
And intestinal permeability – better known as leaky gut – can also exacerbate seasonal allergies.
“Things such as stress, alcohol, inflammatory foods and sugar can damage the lining of the gut, deteriorating the barrier between the gut and the bloodstream,” Tara says.
“This allows foods that would not normally enter the bloodstream to enter, which causes an immune response resulting in food sensitivities and allergies.”
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Tweak your diet for better gut health
Geneticist and nutritionist Dr Denise Furness says, fortunately, there are things we can do to reduce seasonal allergies.
“Mounting evidence suggests that a diet consisting of gut-friendly foods, which contain natural antihistamines, can help manage the severity of seasonal allergies,” Dr Furness says.
“Incorporating foods of this kind into your diet can help reduce inflammation within the body, quell hay fever symptoms and ultimately support a healthy immune system.”
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Is honey an allergy cure-all?
Eating local honey can be a delicious way to try to alleviate hay fever, but Tara points out it’s not necessarily a cure.
“This will only be beneficial if your hay fever allergies are related to pollen,” she says.
“If you have an allergy to grass, for example, then it won’t help.”
5 simple diet additions to improve gut health
Here are some foods you can try – though Dr Furness points out they shouldn’t replace medical treatment.
Tara says it’s important to keep your expectations realistic.
“Thinking that simply eating a few berries and a spoonful of honey each day will cure your hay fever this week is unrealistic, but it is a good habit to start to help your body in the next season,” she says.
Dr Furness suggests stocking up on:
High-fibre foods such as legumes, veggies and psyllium husk-containing cereals are a great starting point as they create short-chain fatty acids.
“These acids can help modulate your immune system and help reduce the likelihood of developing seasonal allergies,” Dr Furness says.
Salmon is a fantastic source of omega-3 fatty acids, which have considerable anti-inflammatory properties.
“Ginger is considered a great natural antihistamine as it contains properties that help soothe the irritation that typically accompanies hay fever,” Dr Furness says.
Dr Furness recommends red apples as they contain quercetin, which inhibits the production and release of histamine.
They are also a great source of vitamin C to boost your immune system.
High in the anti-inflammatory enzyme bromelain, pineapple is another great fruit to add to your diet to help reduce chances of developing allergies this spring.
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Written by Samantha Allemann.