Seasonal Allergies: Fighting Nature with Nature – Part One
Here in the Midwest the spring season is in full bloom. And so are the dripping noses, itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, scratchy throats, asthma and low energy levels; just par for the course of seasonal allergies. Allergies are nothing to sneeze at (do you like my pun?) and can leave us feeling as miserable as any winter cold can. The best way to cope? Fight nature with nature.
Seasonal allergies and their symptoms result when our body’s natural defense mechanism — the immune system — malfunctions and considers a usually harmless substance (pollen, mold, animal dander) a contaminate. The body rids itself of the “contaminate”, or allergen, by creating antibodies that bind to the allergen and then attaches to mast cells for transport out of the body. This process of eradication employs the use of chemicals — primarily histamine — which is responsible for making you sneeze, your eyes water, etc.
Also known as hay fever, seasonal allergies have one in five of us grabbing for tissues and avoiding the fresh spring air like the plague. But why are there so many of us suffering from allergies? While your very genes may play a role in the likelihood of developing allergies, your state of health plays a predominate role as well.
Experts agree that a weakened immune system is perhaps the largest contributing culprit to the sheer number of seasonal allergy sufferers. It should come as no surprise then that our culture has experienced a drastic increase in allergies (seasonal, environmental and food) over the past several decades. Due to our poor diet choices — notably the lack of probiotics found in cultured foods and the over-abundance of sugar — our immune systems are overtaxed and undernourished. The good news? Bolstering your immune system can help you not only ward off seasonal allergy attacks, but illness all year long.
Be sure to read all of this four part series, which includes allergy relief through the use of herbs, homeopathic remedies and essential oils. By the time we’re through, you’ll feel more equipped than ever at combating your allergies the natural way!
Now, let’s take a look at how our diet can help us overcome our battle with seasonal allergies…
Since we recently took a stroll through the topic of using real food as medicine, we’ll begin our journey to allergy relief there. By far the top best foods for fighting seasonal allergies include: water, raw honey, and quality cultured foods (probiotics).
Water is really a no-brainer but it begs mention here because of the significant lack of water intake I’ve seen in our society. We can live without food significantly longer than we can live without water…. But it seems many have lost sight of this point. Drink water people! Especially for allergy sufferers water is a MUST for flushing out body tissue and replenishing lost stores of water due to fluent nasal drainage.
Once you’re hydrated, pick up some raw honey from your local apiary by contacting your State Beekeepers Association. Raw honey is unpasteurized (don’t worry) and is chocked full of vitamins, enzymes, powerful antioxidants while being anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. As such it does a great job at enhancing the effectiveness of the immune system while potentially eliminating allergies through gradual exposure to the spores and pollen found in honey. For best results begin ingesting local honey a few months before your worse allergy months.
Additionally, equip yourself with the best immune-boosting tool of all: probiotics. Consider probiotics your friend for life. Consume them often either in the form of quality yogurt (plain yogurt minimally sweetened with raw local honey is ideal) or cultured foods like kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, or other fermented foods. Though primarily thought of as digestive aids, probiotics take up residence in our digestive gut where the greatest part of our immune system is found, allowing them to make a huge impact on our ability to fend of illness. Since allergies are the result of a touchy, malfunctioning immune system the functions of this vital bacteria actually bolster and increase the tolerance of our immune system and make it less likely to experience allergic reactions.
One item of note is that not all real foods will help with allergies. In fact, some can even cause more harm than good. You can find a helpful chart here for considering if some of your favorite real foods might just be too closely related to your allergy nemesis. For more information about other real foods that can help with allergies, read this article by the Weston A. Price foundation.