It’s spring! The time when grass grows, flowers bloom, and everything becomes green again. It’s a beautiful time of year. Unfortunately, for some people, it is also the time when allergies come back in full force. Many people think that they just have to wait until the pollen and other allergens decide to pack it in for the season, but understanding why your body has a reaction to these substances and what you can do to lessen that reaction can give you so much relief during the spring months.
Seasonal allergies are an overreaction to a normal molecule in nature. While this is a very common reaction, come spring, it is not a normal reaction. The majority of the time allergies happen when the body is already predisposed to having a reaction to a foreign molecule. This predisposition happens when the body is in a state of inflammation, when it is on the edge of its seat just waiting for something to happen. So, if we want to tone down our allergies we need to tone down this inflammation predisposing our body to an improper reaction.
So what are some things that ramp up inflammation in our bodies and what can we do to combat them? Well, there are many things that can lead to excess inflammation but I am going to focus on three of the most problematic ones. The first one is stress. Chronic physical and psychological stress can cause lots of unwanted inflammation in our bodies. If you read my previous blog about stress you know that it results in a more active sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight). When this part of the nervous system becomes overactive it leaves us predisposed to overreact to other things in our environment, including common allergens.
There are many ways that we can combat the impacts of stress on our bodies and many of them are highlighted in that previous article, but I want to highlight a different one here. That approach is the chiropractic adjustment. In her lecture on “The Scientific Basis for Chiropractic Care” Dr. Lisa Bloom DC, PhD proves that hypomobility of joint segments in the spine can contribute to more sympathetic activity. and that chiropractic adjustments alleviate that hypomobility leading to a decrease in that sympathetic activity. So just by getting regular chiropractic adjustments you can help keep your body less reactive to pesky allergens floating around in the air.
The next approach to making your body less reactive to allergens is toning down your systemic inflammation by eating a very anti-inflammatory diet. The most inflammatory foods out there are grains, sugar, and vegetable oils. Grains (wheat, barely, rye, and oats) have many inflammatory compounds in them like gluten and lectins that ramp up our inflammation. Grains may have some nutrients with them but they are not anything we can’t get from some other better source. Sugar is something hidden in so many foods, that spikes blood sugar, is addictive, and is highly inflammatory. Vegetable oils are mostly omega-6 fats and are very inflammatory in the amounts that we eat them. They are also very easily damaged and the become trans fats which are extremely inflammatory. Eliminating these foods from your life can do wonders at toning down any hyperreaction you may have to allergens.
The last approach I want to talk about is to filter the air you breathe to the extent that you can. Obviously, we can’t filter all the air in our life because we have to go outside as well as breathe the air at work or other places we don’t have control over. But if we can at least control the air we have in our homes we can create a large amount of time in which we aren’t breathing in allergenic air. The best way to do this is get a quality air filter and air sanitizer for your home, especially for your bedroom where you spend hopefully 8 hours a day every day. My favorite air filter is the Air Doctor and my favorite air sanitizer is the Air Oasis. Think about how many toxins and allergens you will avoid exposure to just by running these in your home daily.
Allergies are not something we have to throw our hands up and surrender to and taking inflammation suppressing medications and allergy shots are not getting to the underlying issue. We can do things every day to decrease the body’s reaction to these molecules and improve our quality of life. In our functional medicine program, this is a large part of what we do. We will help you find ways to deal with stress including our Stress Relief Therapy, we will help you find the most anti-inflammatory diet that is right for you, and we can show you how to detox your body and your environment. Don’t let allergies get the best of you this season!