What does gut health have to do with hay fever or seasonal allergies? Actually a lot more than you may think.
Allergies and hay fever are an inappropriate defensive response to pollen and other substances that can be driven by what’s known as “leaky gut”.
According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, “Besides being associated with inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, or celiac disease, leaky gut can also be a contributing factor to allergies.”
It’s true that pollens can be extremely irritating. When you look at them under a microscope, some look like medieval torture devices.
Your body wants to rid itself of irritants, so when you’re exposed, you may sneeze to blow it out. Or produce mucus to rinse your sinuses. Or even develop a tickle so that you grab a tissue to blow your nose.
This is just your body taking care of itsef, not necessarily an allergy.
Much of the hayfever problem and even asthma, are caused by food allergies. Think of it as the inflammation caused by a specific food allergy becomes contagious and then spreads to the respiratory system.
And food allergies begin in the gut.
When your intestinal lining loses integrity or becomes “leaky,” it allows incompletely digested food particles into your bloodstream. Your immune system doesn’t recognize these large particles as nutrients because they haven’t been broken down enough to the proper recognizable form, so they’re considered unwanted invaders, and are attacked.
The immune system also creates antibodies to those particles. These are sort of like a “most wanted” list, so the immune system can quickly identify and subdue these substances in the future, should they ever invade again.
Dr. Mercola also says that about a third of seasonal allergy sufferers have something called Oral Allergy Syndrome. Sometimes your immune system is fooled by proteins that look like something that has already been tagged as bad. So when a pollen molecule is structurally similar to a food molecule you’re already allergic or sensitive to, your immune system attacks it.
Most doctors who treat allergies holistically will want to reduce the allergic threshold by using an elimination diet and reducing inflammation as much as possible. Because adverse reactions can be delayed sometimes, it’s recommended to stay on the special diet for at least a few weeks to properly narrow the field.
The top common food allergens you may want to avoid are:
- Tree nuts
These are the most common food allergies. But any food can be a potential allergen, so just because it’s not on this list doesn’t mean it’s not a trigger.
If you are experieincing hay fever, it may be a good idea to look to your gut for a solution. The good news is leaky gut can be corrected and the intestinal walls can heal, allowing the immune system to not be on edge as often, potentially helping with hay fever.