Allergies And Autoimmunity

Rates of life-threatening food allergies double every decade. Seasonal allergies have tripled in 25 years. 10% of all US adults and roughly the same in the U.K now have an autoimmune condition. So what’s going on with our immune system ?

The immune system protects, cleans, and repairs the body, but it simply can’t cope with the current levels of toxicity we’re exposed to on a daily basis. Industrialized countries face an epidemic of immune deficiency, and processed food and chemical toxicity are the most likely culprits.

What are Allergies ?

A few weeks after conception, your immune system starts working by collecting information about the outside world from substances passed through your mother’s umbilical cord. Her diet, the toxins she’s exposed to and her stress levels create a baseline set of immune data.

Throughout life, the immune system memorizes which substances are harmful to the body and how to tackle them. This dynamic immune memory helps your body get better at keeping you healthy; this is called the adaptive immune response. Unfortunately, the immune system wasn’t designed to deal with the thousands of chemical dangers we currently face.

When the immune system is overstretched, it records the wrong information. For example, the immune system might identify certain substances, like food or pollen, as an ‘extreme threat’ instead of a ‘safe substance’.

The immune system is under extra pressure from food that leaks through inflamed gut walls and into the body. Food should pass through our digestive system, not just float around in the body. So, when food leaks through the gut walls, the immune system (which wasn’t designed to record data about food in this way) gets confused. The immune system starts to ‘fight’ them by confusing stray food particles as harmful intruders, and the body gets caught in the immune response’s crossfire.

Allergic Responses

The immune system is constantly checking for dangers, and for some substances, the response is excessive (for example, deadly peanut allergies). Substances like gluten (found in bread) are similar to some of our own tissues (like the thyroid gland), provoking the body to attack itself by accident.

Allergies are hypersensitivities that range from mild itching, skin redness, hives, and swelling, to difficulty breathing, vomiting, diarrhoea, and fatal anaphylaxis (the most severe allergic reaction that can cause breathing to stop).

Allergies impact the body in different ways depending on the organ or system:

  • Asthma – dust, pollen, mold, or other allergens trigger an inflammatory reaction in the lungs. This makes airways swell and produce mucus, restricting breathing.
  • Eczema – also known as contact dermatitis, this allergic skin reaction can be triggered by nickel or other inflammatory substances (like detergents) coming into contact with the skin.
  • Hay Fever – seasonal changes in airborne pollen, often coupled with pollutants cause sneezing and irritation of the nose, eyes and lungs.
  • IBS – irritable bowel syndrome is an inflammatory condition in the gut triggered by specific foods (commonly processed ones like white bread).
  • Rhinitis – dust, pollen, mold, or animal skin flakes trigger inflammation in the nose, creating watery eyes, runny nose, and sneezing as the body attempts to remove the irritants.

All of these conditions are inflammatory responses to specific substances. Some of the responses are mild and occasional, others are more severe. The symptoms of these vary different conditions all represent the body trying to get rid of something.

Flaky skin, vomiting, diarrhoea, runny nose, watery eyes, and mucus are tools the immune system uses to speed up the removal of something it sees as a threat. The World Allergy Organization lists 170 foods associated with allergic reactions or food intolerances. We’re also exposed to nearly 60,000 chemicals in our factories, schools, and homes – are you surprised our immune systems are confused ?

Restoring Bacterial Balance

Allergies have increased more dramatically in industrialized societies. There are much lower rates in developing countries, and allergies are less common in rural environments. The Amish (who don’t use chemicals) show a significantly lower incidence of allergen sensitivity. This confirms the problem is environmental and related to the toxins we absorb through our noses, mouth, gut, and skin.

Typically, people with one allergy are also allergic to other substances. The immune system is in such a state of confusion and stress that it gets over-reactive when trying to defend itself. The biggest ally in our immune response is our gut. It has a critical role in educating the immune system about substances we encounter. Think of it as a teacher that informs the immune system and ‘edits’ the immune memory.

Children who lack exposure to healthy microbes have a less sophisticated immune system. Children who grow up on farms, or with plenty of access to the natural environment, have a more developed immune system that doesn’t get stressed as easily.

By increasing exposure to nature, both adults and children can re-educate the immune system. Gardening, forest walks, farm visits, and connecting with nature are excellent ways of teaching the immune system what is safe.

Build a Better Biome!

Microbial imbalance is often the root of chronic inflammatory conditions, allergies, and autoimmune disorders. If you want to speed up the process of clearing out the toxins and rebuilding a healthy immune response, we need to feed our gut properly with a plant-based diet, and avoid feeding it toxic foods (with sugar and processed ingredients). Anti-inflammatory food can help the body recover naturally from allergies.

Anti-Inflammatory Cherry Delight

This smoothie is packed with anti-inflammatory ingredients to help your body recover from allergies and eliminate toxicity.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbs sesame seeds
  • 6 dates
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 handful of approved greens
  • 1 cup strawberries
  • 1 cup cherries
  • 1 cup soft-jelly coconut milk
  • Agave syrup or date sugar, to taste
  • Spring water to thin if needed

Instructions:

  1. Pit the dates and cherries
  2. Blend all ingredients, along with the pitted dates and cherries, in a high speed bender. Sweeten with agave syrup or date sugar to your liking.
  3. Add spring water to thin if needed.
  4. Enjoy.

See you in 2 weeks

About Shaun

Hi I am a naturopathic researcher. One which supports and promotes the healthy function of the body...stimulating the body's built-in self healing mechanisms.
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