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Natural Awakenings Fairfield Cty/Housatonic Valley, CT

Allergy Triggers Are Inside and Out: Inflammation is the Common Denominator

Apr 02, 2016 02:04AM ● By Mark J. Joachim

Spring is here. For some, it is not the most enjoyable time of the year while, for others, it is a time to enjoy the great outdoors. However, even for those of us who enjoy the time outside, our breathing may be challenged by certain triggers in the environment; they can cause respiratory-related symptoms such as shortness of breath, wheezing or even asthma-type symptoms.

Why do some people suffer while others are not affected at all? Our overall health and immune system strength may dictate how we respond to various molds, pollens, chemicals or other air-borne triggers. The body’s ability to ward off irritants and have an “allergic response” is predicated on our health and well-being.

What really happens when an allergic response occurs? In short, when our body is exposed to an environmental trigger or allergen, certain people will develop an antibody reaction, IgE; this then causes the release of histamines, which leads to the production of symptoms. The symptoms occur because inflammation is occurring around the airway and within other areas of the body. The severity of the response will dictate the intensity of the inflammation. For some people, the inflammatory response is mild enough where they do not require an antihistamine or other medication while, for others, they know immediately they require medication to reduce the reaction. Depending on the person, respiration may be affected on a mild basis or more severely, such as an asthma attack.

Sometimes breathing difficulties may not be caused by the environment. Anaphylactic food allergies are running rampant in our society, such as those to peanuts, cow proteins and sulfites. Hidden food sensitivities can also be present. Typically, these sensitivities will not be evident to the person; however, every time these foods are eaten, the immune system is stimulated to attack the foreign food and, in doing so, weakens and compromises the immune system to a point where it cannot defend the body against environmental irritants.

The health of our digestive tract is so important and can aid the person with breathing difficulties in allergy season. Approximately 70 percent of the immune system resides in our intestinal tract. When the gut has been compromised over time from poor eating habits, medications, stress, poor hydration and anything else that compromises it, our immune system is compromised along with digestion and bowel movements. When we eat that certain unknown food(s) sensitivity, our immune system is compromised and our ability to fight the irritants is very poor.

Another condition which may occur is when the intestinal walls weaken, allowing intestinal tract contents to leak into the body. This is called leaky gut syndrome. When this occurs, the immune system is activated and responds. As this occurs on a repetitive basis, the immune system is weakened to a point that it can no longer defend against the environment. A weakened gut equals a weakened immune system.

There are a number of situations which may trigger an allergic response. The first is when cross reactivity is present. It is known that all foods come from either a plant or animal source and are grouped based on their origin. For example, are asparagus, chives, garlic and onion—all part of the lily family. Therefore, an allergy to one member of the family may predispose us to an allergy to another member; that occurs because their chemical makeup is so close. This cross reactivity occurs between foods and pollens, which will heighten the symptoms for some people. An example is with the members of the gourd family—bananas, cucumber and watermelon can cross-react with ragweed pollen. How can this happen? They have the same allergy-producing proteins.

Another type of allergy is called a concomitant. This occurs when two allergens—such as wheat while ragweed pollens are out—are present simultaneously and a reaction occurs. These can actually occur up to six weeks after pollen season is over.

A synergistic allergy happens when two or more foods are eaten together and cause a response even though individually they are benign
to us.

How does this all tie together? Whether it’s an environmental or food trigger, the common denominator is the initiation of inflammation from the response of the immune system.

With that in mind, what can be done to help ward off the inflammatory response—whether to known or unknown, food or environmental triggers? We need to strengthen the immune system by supporting it directly and our gut.

Here are some tips:

• Hydrate properly by drinking 50 percent of our body weight in ounces

• Repair leaky gut syndrome and healing the gut, if present

• Support immune system through proper diet and nutrition, including eliminating mucous-forming foods, such as dairy products

• Exercise to support and strengthen the immune system

• Rest to allow the body to recuperate and repair

To effectively fight and defend against allergies, the number one defense is keeping as healthy as possible.

Mark J. Joachim, DC, practices at 156 East Ave in Norwalk. His 26 years of experience have led to the creation of a new line of vitamins called Key Essential Nutrients. For more information, call 203-838-1555 or visit AllergyEliminationNorwalk.comSee ad, page 5.

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