Itchy eyes, itchy nose, sneezing, runny nose that is like a tap running, or being blocked up and then you lose your sense of smell. Pain around your temples and forehead, headaches and earache and the worst for me is the itchy roof of my mouth that somehow never can be scratched enough because you know, your tongue wasn’t meant to scratch anything! Seasonal allergies and hayfever can seem to hit at various times of the year and are way worse for some, seemingly depending on where you live, the pollen count and what season it is. While taking antihistamine is the usual go to—feeling some relief to the heavy feeling in the face, the swollen eyes that make you feel like you’ve pulled an all nighter, well sure they can take the edge off, but not without side effects. But you have to ask, which is worse—the drowsiness, dry mouth and eyes, blurred or double vision, dizziness and headache, blood pressure tanking, more mucus in your airways, heart rate speeding up and difficulty urinating and constipation OR the symptoms of hayfever? With that list of potential side effects, you might opt for the itchy everything, right?
What’s not understood enough is where this high level of histamine comes from. And yes, histamine is the culprit for inflammation. It’s a natural chemical in the body that is used for more than making you itch, but today we are going to focus on that abundance of histamine that’s driving you crazy and making you feel crappy. NEWS FLASH—your over-the-top histamine level has a lot to do with your gut health. YES, just as so many other issues like mental health, obesity and the obvious symptoms of IBS and inflammatory bowel diseases, when your gut is in better shape, so will your streaming eyes and itchy nose.
Today on EAT THIS with Lianne, Seasonal Allergies and Hayfever, and of course what can you do about it?
You’ve likely felt the itchy effects of histamine from a mosquito bite, brushing up against a stinging nettle or or experienced hives of any kind. To make it simple, it’s what creates inflammation and itch. We talked about Inflammation with fellow nutritionist Julie Daniluk on episode 67, and she mentioned asking for the results of the C-Reactive Protein in the blood panel. It’ll confirm where inflammation is at, which can put your mind at rest about overall inflammation in your body and what’s best is if it’s off the charts, you can make changes and then watch it come down.
Allergies in general stem from the immune system. And you might have heard me talk in the past about 80% of your immune system is in your gut, so yes, I’m going to share with you ways to ease your hayfever, but we aren’t going to come at it with eye drops or saline in a neti pot rinsing out your irritated sinuses. No, we are going deeper to the root. Because why is it that one person is in agony with hayfever and you’re not. Or the other way around. It doesn’t seem fair for that poor person who is feeling sub-par every day as the spring blooms erupt and pollen goes flying.
Whether it’s the ragweed, the yellow pollen from pine trees that cover your car, seasonal allergies can come at any time of year depending on when you start sneezing. Sure, an allergy test will tell you what exactly it is that you’re allergic to, but why not deal with the underlying issue of too much histamine? Because what does it really matter what it is, you just don’t want to feel its effects?
So, what are you going to do about this…
First, you need to give your liver a break. Breaking down histamine is yet another job for the liver to work through. While you’re working on lessening what is being produced, we can come at it another way. Remember everything goes through the liver. I talked about that last week with Dr B about in episode 73 – Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD), and also, in Episode 55 on Drainage and Detox with Coach Jay.
How can you do that? Well, the first step is to keep a food diary. I hear the groans and see the eye rolls, but truly, if you want to make a change, you have to know where you’re starting from. This helps you realize and understand what you’re eating, drinking or not eating or drinking. It’s ease up on all those favourite things that you eat every day—and I’m not talking the greens, chia pudding and berries, just so we are clear!
Next, how is your gut? Are you bloated, gassy, constipated, have diarrhoea or IBS? That’s where we are headed next. Have you ever suffered what’s called a never-well-since? That’s when you went to Mexico and came back with gut bugs that hitched a ride back after your trip or ate something that ended up in a full-on digestive clear out. See if you can remember when that was—not essential but it does help to know where this might have come from.
If you’ve got a parasite, some kind of bacteria, fungus or Candida, your immune system is working on it. All the time. So your all-powerful immune army is already busy. What you eat, that cookie, that brownie, ice cream or boxed or packaged food like crackers or breakfast cereal is helping nourish the bad guys. And at the same time, not giving you any nutrients.
We are talking about how to deal with hayfever and seasonal allergies by working on your gut.
A quick reminder about good bugs in your belly. There are 500 species and three pounds of bacteria in your gut—that looks like trillions of gut bugs and collectively contain 100 times more genes as we do. Fun fact for those geeks out there, the bacterial DNA in your gut outnumbers your own DNA by 100 times! You have about 20,000 genes, so that’s 2,000,000 (or more) bacterial genes! Yep, it’s time to even things out.
Foods to ditch that aren’t helping—an elimination diet.
Sometimes this has to happen faster than others and that could mean you also get relief faster. Some of the common toxic triggers like wheat, corn, dairy, soy and alcohol. If that looked like your food diary from yesterday, I’m sorry …
If that wasn’t bad enough, I want you to avoid anything that contains sugar. I know, I know. You could be heading for the antihistamine with that one, but I promise you, you can live without it. How you feel after day two or three of ditching, and then the week or two to follow could put you down a similar path to No-Sugar Barry from the Is Sugar Evil episode with author of, I LOVE me more than sugar, who started off one day, then one week, kept going to a month, then to more months, and now it’s been about 9 years. That man is like Benjamin Button, I swear.
So what can you eat??? Any whole food that looks like it’s been picked. Is that right to say, Chris? Let’s think about that … All the whole foods are where the fibre is at. Fibre helps to capture some of those bad guys that you’re also trying to ditch. Because why not!
- Supplement to take here is my Bio Boost probiotic. Try doing what’s called a flush if you’re really suffering… That’ll jump start the switching of the bacterial balance in your gut.
- Focus on anti-inflammatory plant chemicals called phytonutrients. Those are in all the colourful superfoods; berries, beets, peppers, sweet potato, all those greens that you may or may not like. Take my TAKE THIS by Lianne KID BOOST superfood powder to get you there faster. These antioxidant rich foods are the damper to the fire of inflammation.
- Then those healthy fats; extra virgin olive oil, nuts, avocados and omega-3 fats like those found in small fish (sardines, herring, sable, trout, wild-caught salmon). A supplement here would be my Omega Boost.
- Go to bed. Seriously, get more good quality sleep. If you can’t fall asleep try Melatonin Spray and Magnesium Bis Glycinate to help you drift off faster, and stay asleep. But that also means off your phone and screens about an hour before bed. Good sleep hygiene is your best friend.
- Other supplements include bromelain and quercetin. Vitamin C acts as a natural antihistamine by reducing the amount of histamine your body produces in response to an allergen, so get your Alka C right here. It might help reduce mild symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, congestion, and watery eyes due to allergic rhinitis. Zinc (is also in Alka C), Vitamin A (is in Adult Boost) for your mucus membranes and of course the immune-supportive Sunshine D3+K2.
- Whatever you can do to lessen your stress—walk, yoga, meditate or breathe. It will all help.
Ok so what about all that then? Didn’t see the gut angle coming did you? Most roads lead back to the gut, right?
The fix is closer than you think—it’s probably in your fridge or on you counter right now.
What will you start with first?