Allergies can impact our lives and people in different ways. While one person suffers from the onslaught of seasonal pollen, another has to avoid certain foods because they break out in hives.
Let’s look at how allergies develop, while also investigating their connection with our environment and gut.
Environmental factors on allergies
There are multiple reasons why we contract allergies, but the two most common reasons are diet and environment.
Air pollution is a huge contributor to developing or experiencing allergies. There have been studies examining how automotive pollution affects grass pollen and their findings show that car pollution increased the allergenicity of the grass pollen. Putting it simply, air pollution impacts the development of plant pollen, making them more likely to cause allergies in humans.
There’s also particulate matter, which is microscopic particles within the air. The quantity of particulate matter in the air depends on your location and serves as a crucial link to allergies and asthma, as well as other health consequences.
Allergy development in infants
Your allergy development can start from the second you are born. The method of your delivery at birth could determine how susceptible you are to allergens. For example, C-section delivered babies tend to have a later maturation of their immune system and are at a higher risk of developing allergies.
Antibiotics and stomach acid-reducing proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) if given to infants, also increase the potential for developing allergies, with some studies showing food allergies, and asthma, being the most prevalent.
Intestinal permeability and its role in allergy development
Your gut’s lining, known as the epithelial lining, has multiple functions that are critical to our health and is only a mere, single-cell thick. Its primary function is as a barrier, preventing toxins coming in and letting only the smallest, micronutrients out into the body.
But, what if that lining were to become inflamed? It could become torn, allowing larger, partially broken down food molecules (known as macromolecules) into the bloodstream. Your immune system then becomes triggered, targeting these food molecules by identifying them as invasive and generates antibodies to fight off what it classes as an infection. Suddenly the macromolecule that derived from a banana has activated an autoimmune response, resulting in a possible, new allergy to bananas.
This is why it is crucial to address any issues with your gut as soon as you notice them. You have to start by reducing the inflammation in the intestines by staying clear of inflammatory foods, allowing the antibody load to reduce. Luckily, the intestinal cell wall is a quick healer. After 3-6 weeks, you can begin to introduce foods back into your diet that may have triggered the allergic reaction, to see if there are any adverse effects.
Should we use antihistamines?
Antihistamines are incredibly common in the treatment of allergies, particularly those that are triggered by airborne matter such as pollen or pollution. They are easily attainable and are usually taken orally. They work by stabilising the histamines from mast cells, and stops the histamine from being released, halting most symptoms such as sneezing and itchy eyes. While this is great for the sufferer, because in some cases allergies can be life-threatening, it is in fact only masking the symptoms and doesn’t go to the root cause of the problem.
While taking medication might make your life a little easier in the short term – think about what you are hiding and how that could impact you in the long run?
Probiotics and their treatment in allergies
As modern medicine progresses, we’re seeing promising results in the use of specific probiotic treatments to help combat allergies.
Positive alterations in our gut microbiome, when aided by probiotics, can contribute to the improvement of our immune systems’ regulation as a whole. However, you need to know which probiotic will benefit you most, so seeking the advice of a qualified practitioner is a wise option.
The health of your gut microbiome is crucial in protecting you from disease, and as we have seen above, if you damage the gut or ignore issues you might be experiencing, this could lead to worse problems.