Did you know that allergies are the 6th most common chronic illness in the US? Over 50 million Americans suffer from various allergies, with the elderly and Black Americans experiencing the most deadly reactions. Before accepting this condition as an inevitable part of being human, take a close look at your digestion. The digestive system and allergies are very closely linked. In this article, we’ll shed light on this connection and what you can do to remedy it.
What is an Allergen?
An allergen is any substance, natural or unnatural, that triggers a defensive response by the immune system. In some cases, the allergen is a seemingly benign thing. However, for some people this substance makes the immune system overreact, creating a kind of antibody called IgE (Immunoglobulin E) to protect you. The result is an allergic reaction.
Common allergens are:
- Foods (eggs, nuts, soy, milk, wheat, and some animal meat to name a few)
- Animal dander/protein
- Pharmaceutical drugs (penicillin is a common one)
- Chemical additives (dyes)
- Insect bites/stings
Having an allergic reaction can range from mild to severe. Most people experience watery, itchy eyes, sneezing, coughing, scratchy throat, and runny nose. Severe cases can cause anaphylactic shock, asthma attack, swelling, low blood pressure, digestive upset, and death.
What is the Digestion Link?
Your lungs and digestion system are very closely linked. Traditional Chinese Medicine has recognized this link for centuries, while Western Medicine has just recently caught on. Both systems are the only systems with direct exposure to the outside environment. You breathe air and eat food, both coming from the outside in. Your digestive system also takes the nutrients from the food consumed to nourish the lungs and other bodily systems.
To put it plainly, what you eat matters.
And, what you eat directly affects how your body reacts to its environment.
The Standard American Diet (SAD...and it is.) is abundant in sugar, salt, unhealthy fats, toxic chemicals, pesticides, and processes that strip and alter whole foods into unrecognizable substances. This is all for the sake of palatability, not for nourishment! As a result, your immune system tries its best to defend you against these toxins and irritants.
The SAD diet also encourages an imbalance in digestive flora. Naturally, your gut is full of good bacteria known as probiotics. This bacteria is necessary to keep your digestive system working as a balanced ecological system. They line the inside of your stomach, helping to ward off illness, aid in digestion, promote good immunity, and even skin issues. It should come as no surprise that this bacteria is one of the first lines of defense for allergies.
When digestive flora is disrupted and an unhealthy diet is consistently consumed, a yeast called Candida albicans is given space to thrive. In infants with compromised or undeveloped immune systems, this commonly appears as thrush. When Candida has a chance to overpopulate, it creates a cyclical systematic poisoning that makes you become hypersensitive to your environment and foods.
In fact, what most people think is an allergy to gluten, is sometimes the effect of candida overgrowth. This is why just removing gluten rarely does the trick! It isn’t getting to the root of the issue! If truth be told, some gluten allergies are simply an allergen to the pesticides used on the wheat crop. Switching to organic whole grains can create a marked improvement, however, the first step is to get the gut in order!
The Importance of Improving Your Digestion
You cannot improve your allergies, without improving your diet. Whether you have seasonal or food allergies, diet is the key. There are a multitude of allergy-suppressing medications out there. These drugs do just that, they suppress; essentially acting as a band-aid, not a solution. They may also come with negative side effects that can exacerbate allergy symptoms or cause secondary health issues. This cycle doesn’t improve anything, which is why many allergy sufferers get into the habit of managing their symptoms.
These symptoms are actually your body’s natural defenses trying to rid you of what it considers to be toxins. Taking medication suppresses your body’s only defense against these things. Candida creates the hypersensitivity, and thus contributes to the inflammation and other symptoms you suppress. Can you see why this is a vicious cycle?
- Your diet is full of processed foods, sugar, fat, dairy, salt, and pesticide-laden produce
- Candida overgrows in the gut and begins affecting your immune system.
- You become hypersensitive to foods or your environment (your body cannot handle the toxic load.).
- You take medication to relieve the uncomfortable symptoms, but they suppress your immune system to the point where these toxins can wreak havoc on the body without consequence, or defense.
- You mistake this for true relief and continue eating the same.
Thus, the cycle just continues: a permanent reliance on allergy drugs and an overgrowth of yeast.
Getting your Gut In Order
The process of having a healthy gut can take some time, although it is absolutely possible! Here at House of Imhotep, we have assisted adults and children alike improve the quality of their digestive systems resulting not only in improved allergy symptoms, but improved immunity, energy, etc.
Detoxification is the first necessary step. This process can look different for everyone, depending on their toxic load. Fasting may be required, or simply swapping certain foods with organic, fresh nutrient-dense produce (this works best for those with a weakened constitution).
Herbs for detoxification can be used here to clear candida, yeasts and fungi. Blood cleansing herbs are also helpful here, as well as anti-inflammatory varieties.
*While internal detoxification is key, so if the external. Ridding your home of unnecessary toxins, such as chemical cleaning products, excessive dust and danger, and molds are a plus. Using a high quality air purification system in your home will help keep certain air borne toxins to a minimum.
Balancing the gut’s good bacteria is the next step. Taking a good quality probiotic, as well as eating organic fermented foods such as sauerkraut, will help good bacteria flourish in order to keep fungi and yeast overgrowth at bay. Herbs are an immense help with this!
Next, take your diet to the next level with fresh organic produce. We recommend raw or lightly cooked to start to give you access to the highest amounts of nutrients. Organic whole grains can be added back into your diet gradually. Soaking your grains with a dash of lemon juice before cooking can help improve digestibility and nutrient absorption. Sprouted grains are also a healthy option to replace dried grains.
Last, but not least, get assistance! Making these changes can feel like a lot on your own, but it can be simple! Getting a health consultation with an expert herbalist is the best way to get personalized help with your specific allergy symptoms. We’ve seen the difference this makes with our customers! One recommendation does not fit all, therefore getting guidance for you will always create better results.
We have a variety of herbal combinations to assist you in improving your digestion and allergies. If you aren’t sure where to start, reach out and let us guide you.