Do you, or your family members struggle with allergies? Some with eczema, some with watery eyes, some with food allergies and some with chronic runny noses and raspy breathing? We have spent a lot of time learning about allergies, and one nagging question always remains, “Can our diet affect our allergies?’’ We believe the answer is “Yes,” our diet does play a role in our food allergies. And, science is now showing the foods you eat can impact how you respond to the allergens you are exposed to daily.
When a substance enters your body, and it recognizes it as an allergen, your immune cells go into full attack. Your body begins releasing histamines, cytokines and IgE antibodies. This produces the symptoms you experience. The swollen eyes, runny nose, intestinal pain, swollen throat, breathing difficulties, itchy skin, all the result of your immune system attacking an allergen. And while this is a good thing that our bodies can attack these foreign invaders, it is not a good thing when it becomes a chronic condition. This is why it’s important to combat the inflammation with an anti-inflammatory diet.
So, what should we eat to help with our allergies?
- Organic foods: It is believed that the pesticides found on and in foods can actually make your immune system act differently, therefore increasing your inflammation, which in turn, makes you more susceptible to allergens.
- Antibiotic-free foods: Antibiotics can kill the friendly bacteria you have living in your gut, which, impacts the immune system in our intestines.
- Non-genetically engineered foods: With so many changes to the genetic make-up of our food, it is believed that our bodies are getting confused with the introduction of these foreign proteins. So what does the body do? It attacks them, believing they are an allergen.
- Vegetables and fruits: These contain antioxidants that can help balance out the immune system and keep it in check. Eating a wide variety of colorful, organic vegetables and fruits can ensure you are receiving a variety of nutrients.
- Fermented foods: These foods add to the beneficial bacteria in your gut and can help keep foreign invaders in line. If you have a hard time eating enough fermented foods, take a quality probiotic supplement. This will assist your body in getting enough good bacteria daily.
- Seafood: Today, people tend to consume too much omega 6 fats found in many processed foods. To level this out, we need to increase our consumption of Omega 3 fats. These Omega 3’s are found in seafood, and can help balance our immune systems. If you struggle with consuming a couple meals of seafood a week, you may want to think about taking some omega 3 supplements.
- Herbs and Spices: Many spices can help to calm down an over-reactive immune system. Try adding turmeric, garlic, pepper, ginger, cinnamon, and others to your meals. And, how about adding some cilantro to your salad?
Lastly, as moms, we have noticed firsthand how each of our bodies are different. What may cause inflammation in one person, may not in someone else. For example, as babies and toddlers, a few of our children were unable to consume dairy products without causing some inflammation. It’s very important to look at how foods impact you personally, and each of your family members. In doing so, you will be giving your immune system the best chance of responding correctly.
Our book, Eating Pure in a Processed Food’s World®, contains many recipes and ideas for incorporating more herbs and spices, fruits and vegetables into your diet.
Check out Part Two of this blog series where we discuss ways to help relieve your seasonal allergies naturally (there is a natural alternative!).