Gut Health and Hay Fever: What is the Connection?
Pollen season is in full force right now and if you’re a hay fever sufferer, like many, you will have been feeling the effects of it. Many have even complained of feeling like they have worse symptoms this year compared to previous years. Now of course you could just say, grab an antihistamine and move on with your day. But as you already know, we love to delve a little deeper than that here at Naked Biotics and we want to look at the link between our guts and allergies, such as Hay Fever, and how good gut bacteria can play a role in helping to alleviate those awful symptoms.
As let’s be honest, we don’t want to spend the most of Summer all snotty nosed and red-eyed do we?
What is hay fever?
This might sound like such a basic question, but bear with us, it’s important for us to address so we can truly understand how allergies like hay fever affect us, our bodies and of course, our guts.
Hay fever (also known as allergic rhinitis) is an allergy characterised by its immune response to pollen grains - in the same way as a peanut allergy occurs when peanuts are mistakenly identified by the body as an enemy. There are many different types of hay fever which include being allergic to indoor allergens such as dust mites, feathers or even mould and damp.
Once your immune system starts to overreact, your bloodstream is flooded with chemicals such as histamine which sets in motion a string of responses that include sneezing, an itchy throat, runny nose and so many more frustrating and uncomfortable symptoms.
Where does the gut come into play?
Now we know that 80% of our immune function takes place within the gut and researchers have begun looking into how inflammation and allergies are actually related to gut health.
Mounting evidence is linking the health of your gut microbiome (the microbes that populate your gastrointestinal tract) to allergies. Seasonal allergies in general are reaching a peak. In this country alone, it’s said that 16 million people suffer from hay fever. So with this in mind, it really made us think about why so many of our bodies overreact to things like pollen - it turns out that our gut bugs and the microbiome play quite a big role in this.
Many studies have shown that a healthy, diverse gut microbiome is associated with fewer environmental allergies. Now whether your gut is a happy gut will depend on an array of different factors from your diet, to stress, to medications and so much more.
According to a study of 1,879 adults released by the National Institutes of Health, adults with allergies have a different gut microbiome than those without allergies. This particular study found that a lack of diversity in the gut microbiota was associated with all types of allergies, especially seasonal allergies like hay fever.
So how can you support your gut?
We’ve looked at how seasonal allergies like hay fever are linked to our gut, so here are a few ‘natural antihistamines’ that you can include in your diet to try to keep your symptoms at bay:
We are increasingly aware of the role our gut plays in wider areas of our health. Studies have shown probiotics (live bacteria and yeasts) can play a role in preventing and managing the symptoms of hay fever. It’s best to look out for histamine-degrading strains of probiotics such as Bifidobacterium infantis, Lactobacillus GG and L. gasseri to help reduce the body's histamine count. The effects are thought to be down to probiotic combinations that boost the body’s T cells (white blood cells that are a key part of your immune system). This can increase tolerance, so including gut-boosting probiotics in your diet – eg kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut and miso – or including a probiotic supplement such as our Naked Biotics shots to your diet is a good idea.
Tumeric has been proven to have amazing anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, alleviating or minimising a number of health issues. Studies have also shown it can lessen nasal symptoms and nasal congestion. As well as turmeric, look to include plenty of anti-inflammatory foods in your diet like berries, fish and leafy greens and if you can, try to avoid heavily processed foods, alcohol and refined vegetable oils, as these are inflammatory foods that can trigger a response in your gut, as well as potentially amplify allergy symptoms (which of course, we do not want!
Good ole Vitamin C - our trusty friend. Now really is the perfect time to up your intake of vitamin C, one of the most important immunity vitamins out there. The anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties of vitamin C mean it could help calm reactions and boost protection against them. So make Vitamin C your friend this Summer and try to include plenty of veggies and fruits in your diet. Salads and smoothies are the perfect way to include this and also, keep you nice and cool during those hot Summer days.
You read that right, there are certain foods that can be described as natural antihistamine that can help offer some relief from those hay fever sniffles and itching. Although the evidence is still quite small, it is said that supplements such as quercetin, an antioxidant which can be found in apples, red onions, and green and black tea could help relieve symptoms. Pineapple’s are also a great addition to your diet, as these contain the enzyme bromelain, which is a natural remedy said to help swelling and inflammation of the sinuses, so throw some pineapple into your pre-run smoothie for an anti-allergy energy booster.
We know it is very unlikely you will be able to cure your hay fever through diet alone, but there are steps you can take to reduce your symptoms and let’s be honest, with how crazy the pollen is this year, it’s worth trying everything we’ve got right?