Fall is here, along with pumpkins, colorful leaves, and crisp air. Do you know what else is here? Seasonal allergies- runny nose, watery eyes, and that nasty post nasal drip.
Feeling “sick” around this time of year seems pretty inevitable, right?
Well, there are steps you can take to minimize your allergy symptoms, or even potentially eliminate them altogether. Here at in2GREAT, we use functional medicine approaches for seasonal allergies, and that may just be the “secret” to battling them once and for all.
What are Seasonal Allergies?
Seasonal allergies are when your body’s immune system responds to a foreign substance, like allergens -pollen, pet dander, or dust. When you come into an environment with certain triggers, it can cause your immune response to ramp up.
The allergens trigger the production of IgE antibodies and histamine production as a response, and these are what causes your allergy symptoms. This causes increased inflammation in the nasal and airway passages, along with other symptoms.
Prolonged inflammation and high histamine levels can contribute to more chronic diseases and conditions down the road.
If you are already struggling with increased inflammation and histamine production levels, these allergens may put your immune response on overdrive, causing your extreme allergy symptoms. This is why getting to the root cause of your immunological issues are the key to finding relief and managing, or even halting, your allergies.
Symptoms of Seasonal Allergies
- Runny Nose
- Excess Mucus
- Irritation to the Ears
- Watery and Itchy Eyes
- Scratchy Throat
- Post-Nasal Drip
Functional Medicine Approach to Allergy Relief
Unlike conventional medicine, where you cover up the allergy symptoms with over the counter antihistamine and allergy relief medications, as a functional medicine provider, we like to get to the root cause instead. Here’s how we do that.
Avoid Your Allergens
If you haven’t already, here are some things you can try to reduce your exposure in the first place.
- Get a shower after being outside for long periods
- Try nasal irrigation with a neti pot
- Wash your bedding more frequently
- Invest in a good air filter system
Know Your Triggers
Many times, seasonal allergies can be triggered or exacerbated by certain foods, like dairy. Knowing these triggers can help ease your symptoms. Sometimes, just eliminating a certain food alone can do wonders to your allergies.
You can give the elimination diet a try. This is when you take out a certain food that you think you may have a sensitivity towards, for 21 days, and then slowly and carefully re-introduce it to see if your symptoms come back.
While the above is free, it does take time and patience to know exactly what foods worsen your symptoms. This is why you may want to consider functional lab testing. With a simple blood test, we can easily tell if you are sensitive to a certain food or food group. You don’t have to guess and eliminate multiple different foods over the course of weeks, or months, to figure it out.
This is one of our favorite tests here at in2GREAT, because knowing if your body reacts to certain food can help a multitude of health issues.
Support a Healthy Gut
If your gut lining is damaged, it can cause your tight junctions to separate. Your gut lining is created to keep the substances that are supposed to be in your gut, actually in your gut. However, if your gut barrier becomes more permeable because of the damaged tight junctions (think a cheesecloth vs. a chain-linked fence), it can cause substances to travel to other parts of your body.
This is known as having a “leaky gut”, and it can cause your immune system to be on overdrive all the time. Your immune system sees these unknown substances and sends in the army to kill them.
The constant interference of foreign substances can cause your immune system to be continuously heightened and can contribute to your intense allergy symptoms. Remember, when your body comes into contact with an allergen or other foriegn objects, your mast cells produce histamine and increase inflammation.
Focus on Diet
So many of our health issues and conditions can be helped by eating healthy foods that support a healthy gut and health immune system. To make it easy, these foods are mostly whole, organic foods.
You want to limit your intake of:
- Processed or refined products
- High added sugars
- Artificial ingredients or preservatives
- Any foods that you have a sensitivity to
- Pesticides from non-organic foods
- Antibiotics that are hidden in your conventionally raised meats
Increase your intake of
- Organic foods
- Whole foods
- Wild or grass-fed animal foods
- Anti-inflammatory foods
- Omega-3 fatty acids, like flaxseed, chia seed, or wild-caught salmon
- Quercetin containing foods. These have antihistamine properties. Foods include: broccoli, red onions, citrus, apples, citrus, and fennel.
- Anthocyanin containing foods. These have mast-stabilizing properties. Foods include: wild rice, cherries, berries, grapes, red onions, and cabbage.
Immune and Gut Supporting Supplements
Battling allergies starts in the gut. To make sure the gut is healthy and strong, gut-supporting supplements are recommended. Here are some of our favorites
- Betaine HCl
Another way to boost your immune system and have a better response to allergens is to manage your stress. Your immune system becomes weakened when you are under a lot of stress -physically and emotionally. If your immune system is weak during peak allergy season, you could experience stronger symptoms.
Here are some ways to manage your stress:
- Practice breathing exercises
- Light exercise (prolonged intense exercise can actually enhance your stress levels)
- Talking with a friend
- Enjoying time with loved ones
Contact a Functional Medicine Provider
If you are located near Kansas City and are sick and tired of struggling with allergies every year, get in contact with us at in2GREAT. We won’t just cover up your symptoms. We get to the root of them. You can get in contact with in2GREAT to make an appointment here, or give them a call at (913) 308-0174.