Medical professionals are looking anywhere and everywhere for a cure to help the over 50 million Americans who suffer from allergies. As allergy research progresses, and researchers delve deeper into the causes of allergies, they are finding the treating the symptoms of allergies with food and probiotics to be effective in providing relief from this debilitating condition.
For centuries, ancient Chinese medicine has pointed to poor gut health as a primary cause of allergies. Not surprisingly, new medical research supports this claim, demonstrating a direct correlation between allergies and the health of your digestive system.
Looking deeper into these findings, the relationship between digestive health and allergies becomes pretty clear. Research demonstrates that the digestive system is directly connected to the immune system, with nearly 80% of immune system response to pathogens occurring in the digestive system.
Probiotics for Digestive and Immune Health
Much of the work performed by the immune system is carried out by probiotics, or the good bacteria, found in the digestive system. Healthy, balanced digestive systems contain over 1 trillion live bacteria; 85 percent of these bacteria are probiotics that support good digestions and good health.
Science has also proven the old adage that children raised in the city are more likely to suffer from allergies and allergic reactions than children raised on farms. Scientists attribute this phenomenon to the number of bacteria farm children are exposed to while they grow and develop. While yet to prove it, scientists hypothesize that exposure to several types of bacteria somehow relieves allergies and minimizes immune system response to allergens.
Natural Relief From Allergies
While most people who suffer from allergies reach for antihistamines or other harsh medications, certain foods, like whole grains, fruits, vegetables and especially probiotics may hold the answer for calming allergies for good.
Whole grains, especially in the form of oatmeal, rice, and quinoa are essential sources of protein and fiber, both important for healthy growth and development. Research has demonstrated that whole grains are also rich in specific type of dietary fiber, called beta-glucan. Beta-glucan has been shown to positively influence the creation of immune system response cells which attack and destroy pathogens, including the allergens that cause a variety of allergic responses.
Not a naturally produced substance in the body, beta-glucan must be consumed through food sources; in addition to whole grains, beta-glucan can be found in shiitake mushrooms and certain seaweeds and algae.
Fruits and Vegetables
In addition to being a source of essential vitamins and minerals, several fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants and quercetin, a natural antihistamine that assist in fighting allergies. Antioxidants, especially vitamin E and vitamin C, have demonstrated the ability to neutralize histamines and assist with the growth and repair of damaged cells; minimizing the risk of allergies. Quercetin prohibits the release of histamines, the prime source of allergic reactions and can be found in green leafy vegetables, onions, apples, and garlic.
Probiotics to Fight Allergies
Food allergies are also a result of damaged intestinal lining and a lack of probiotics, or “good” bacteria. The increased use of antibiotics, prescription medications, treated water, and processed foods throughout western countries has resulted in a significant decrease in the percentage of healthy probiotics found in the body. In addition to causing digestive issues like IBS, this decrease in probiotics is directly correlated with a significant increase in allergies. Adding to this issue is the fact that modern sterilization and packaging methods eradicate most bacteria (good and bad), making it difficult to replenish; this is why probiotics are essential in the fight against allergies.
Much like growing up on a farm, supplementing with probiotics and probiotic supplements exposes the body to bacteria, replenishing the supply of healthy bacteria found in the body; this not only supports healthy digestion, but also supports the immune system and prevents allergies. In fact, probiotics have not only been successful in preventing allergic reactions, but also eczema and even asthma.
Sources of Probiotics
In addition to yogurt, kefir, and fermented vegetable products like sauerkraut and kimchi, probiotics are available in supplement form, including capsules. Supplementing daily with probiotics in capsule form provides between 10 billion and 250 billion live cultures per serving.
Research increasingly supports probiotics’ benefits for a number of digestive and immune health issues, including decreasing the effects of allergies. The next time you feel your allergies flaring, reach for a high quality probiotic supplement to minimize your body’s reaction to environmental irritants.