Sneezing? Itchy eyes? Runny nose? With the coming of spring come allergies. Common symptoms of allergies include ear pain; itchy, red, watery eyes; respiratory issues; sneezing; stuffy, runny nose; coughing; fatigue; headache; and itchy, scratchy throat. Usually people who have seasonal allergies exhibit multiple symptoms, making them easy to diagnose.
People with seasonal allergies are usually guided to prescribed and over-the-counter medications to relieve symptoms and advised to avoid contact with allergens whenever possible. But that’s kind of hard to do since most of them are airborne.
But take heart. Because the gut plays a strong role in immune function and allergic reaction, having a healthy gut may be a new line of defense against allergic reactions.
What is gut health all about? The entirety of bacteria in and on your body, including your gut and skin, is known as the human microbiota. The microbiota, it seems, has a complicated influence on your health. It is not only responsible for your gut health, but also for the role your digestive system plays in allergies.
Recently, the bacteria in your gut have been tied to a number of bodily functions and systems. In fact, studies have shown that your gut health may even influence your allergies; and since the immune system surrounds the gut, the two are actually quite intertwined. So if you have gut health issues, it likely means that your immune system is compromised, making you more prone to experience both seasonal and food allergies.
Both seasonal allergies and food allergies are reactions to external factors. Having an imbalanced gut likely means a compromised state, so if you have gut health issues you are also more likely to experience more allergies. An unhealthy gut is also the reason that some people’s allergies are more severe than others.
For example, unhealthy bacterial overgrowth, known as candida, can cause the gut dysfunction known as “leaky gut,” which occurs when the digestive system isn’t absorbing food and food particles actually break through the walls of the digestive tract. The immune system springs into action to attack the foreign invaders. This attack is an immune response that can eventually lead to the inability of your body to fight off seasonal allergies and to autoimmune disease.
To prevent allergic reactions from worsening, you can try introducing new, healthy microbes into your gut. Probiotics contain strains of healthy bacteria and can be found in fermented foods and supplements.
Eating a healthy diet and avoiding foods that disrupt the gut, including sugar and other common food intolerance triggers, can also prevent allergic reactions. Antibiotics and other prescription medications can disrupt the gut by killing off all bacteria. But avoid medications when possible and add good bacteria back into the gut through diet and supplements whenever medications are necessary.
Doctors are also continuing to find new ways to introduce healthy microbes into patients whose gut health is altered or compromised. Because people with a healthy gut tend to experience fewer illnesses and allergies, including food and seasonal allergies, it seems that new modalities of microbe introduction need to be found.