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Could hay fever be a nutritional problem?

Friday 15 th March 2013

Several hypothesis try to give a reason of why hay fever or allergic rhinitis is touching more and more people in development world: hygiene hypothesis, genetic predisposition, polluted environment, ... but, what if food plays a determining role as trigger?


Nutritional Origin of Allergies:

The root of the nutritional cause of allergies is a problem of food intolerance or hypersensitivity. The immune system becomes overloaded and tired because of the continuous activation due to intolerances, and makes it hypersensitive to any substance, natural or chemical that enters the body. But what is the origin of intolerances?

Several factors (toxics, inadequate food, stress, etc..) causes the leaky gut syndrome. Indeed, in a healthy gut, only properly digested food passes through the intestinal wall, but if there is an increased intestinal permeability then partially digested food and other substances slide through the small holes between enterocytes and get into the blood stream. There, these substances are recognized as foreign by the immune system and trigger an attack. It’s a delayed hypersensitivity, being the symptoms of this reaction manifested several hours, even days after ingestion of the intolerant food.

On the other hand, foods that are not completely digested reach the small intestine and serve to feed undesirable bacteria, with a consequent dysbiosis or imbalance of intestinal flora between beneficial bacteria and undesirable one. The development of some yeasts, such as Candida, includes flood of toxins in the body and the production of corresponding antibodies, which can be very numerous (up to 79 for Candida). The body becomes hypersensitive to any kind of external product because of cross-reactivity with toxins.

The lack of beneficial bacteria also prevents proper processing of food, especially vitamins, and later their absorption in the body. Minerals, in turn, are also kidnapped by bad bacteria. With a lack of vitamins, minerals and nutrients, the immune system ends up with dysfunction, as all other systems.

Beneficial bacteria also play an important role in the production of IgA antibodies in the intestinal mucosa. When this first line of defense fall, it is the turn of the second line to act, that is the IgE and IgG antibodies in the blood, who are the responsible of allergies and hypersensitivities. These antibodies become then overburdened, resulting in a hyper-reaction to all external stimuli.

But what’s the reason why an aliment can not be completely digested? It’s the enzymatic system who is responsible for carrying out the digestion of food. If this system fails, again due to toxics, stress, lack of sleep, lack of vitamins or minerals, or simply aging, then enzymes such as proteases, lipases or amylases are not functioning properly. For different reasons, which still nowadays there isn’t a scientific consensus, it is always gluten, casein and lactose the most problematic aliments for the enzyme system. Lipids, fructose, sucrose and starch follow after.

Fatty Acids Deficiency

Liver overloaded due to toxins produced by intestinal microbiota, the environmental toxics, stress, negative thoughts, etc.., is not in condition to perform their duties properly. One of its tasks is the transformation of fatty acids in the diet to prostaglandins which will lead to different systems: endocrine, nervous, skin, ... and immune! Because the enzymes produced by the liver will transform omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids into prostaglandins. But because of a diet high in saturated and omega-6 fatty acids from grains, meat from grain fed animals instead of grass fed, nuts and oils used in the food processing industry, but also by excess of sugar, enzymes can not produce anti-inflammatory prostaglandins from omega-3, but only inflammatory. This inflammation is the cause of cardiovascular disease, rheumatic diseases and allergies! The choice of the affected system will depend on the genetic of the person.

Calm down the immune system with nutrition:

To recover the proper functioning of the immune system, sources that cause the hypersensitivity and intestinal dysbiosis must be avoided: identify all sources of toxics, stress, have a good rest at night, avoid emotional blockages, etc. But when the intolerances are present, all intolerance foods must be avoided and nutrient deficiencies must be filled: omega-3 fatty acids, for example, but avoiding falling into the dependence of the intake of vitamins and minerals. Herbal treatments, homeopathic medicines, probiotics, foods rich in inulin and lactofermented foods go in the direction of repairing the gut villi, intestinal permeability and enzyme system. Blood tests, urine and stool can also help in this regard to determine the state of the intestinal flora and microbial families to be removed, the level of fatty acids, food intolerances (Cytotest, Imupro), etc..

Finding out food intolerances

Although science has made great strides and blood tests are increasingly sophisticated, it is not yet possible up to date, to know all intolerances by clinical analysis. In this regard, the elimination diet and challenge can be used. It means removing a different food or family food every some certain time and observing the improvement of allergic symptoms, until their disappearance. Sometimes it will be necessary to arrive to the Paleo diet, where only vegetables, meat and fish are allowed. Some people heal with the eviction of a single food, dairy products, for example, while others will need to do the Paleo diet or even vegetarian diet.

Once the person is healed, smooth attempts of reintroduction of some new food over given periods. The therapist / coach has the role to guide you in this process.

Knowing yourself

The best doctor is a person itself. Simply have a guide / coach that gives you ideas on ways that we should try, then it is up to the person itself, to make the effort to change their habits because healing must come from the inside.

To know and identify what foods are suitable for you, there are two main tools: clinical tests and the elimination diet and challenge. Clinical tests can advise you on the food hypersensitivities in IgG or IgA antibodies, the reaction of white blood cells to food, intolerance to sugars (lactose, fructose, saccharose), on intestinal dysbiosis, on opioid peptides of gluten and casein, etc.. But the most important work must be done by yourself, because science can not say everything about for food yet. As Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride said: "There is no universal rule, and anyone who tries to prescribe us when we should fast when we should eat and should not be listened to. No scientist, no doctor in the world and no laboratory can tell you what you should do personally. The only authority that everyone should listen to is his own body, because Mother Nature has taken billions of years to draw it"

The elimination diet is an aid for identifying foods that hypersensitize your immune system and, therefore, bring you to an allergic field. But before you begin, you must clear the brain of any preconceived notions about nutrition and doubting all the myths since childhood. Not easy at all! Then the therapist / coach can guide you on the order of the food to test and the time it takes food to hyper-sensitize the body.

Meditation is also used to gain a better awareness of themselves and know how to observe his body: recognizing when you are hungry and when you are full, a link between symptoms and food for the last meals, identifying patterns.

Photo by Andrionni Ribo

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