When the sneezing, sniffling, and runny eyes of springtime kick in, most people grab for the allergy pills, antihistamines, and eye drops. But did you know you can greatly relieve if not banish your allergy symptoms by fixing your gut?
It may sound crazy that your gut health would affect your sinuses, but in fact the two systems are very intertwined. Both the respiratory tract and the digestive tract are immune barriers, meaning it’s their job to protect the body from outside invaders.
The gut in particular profoundly influences the entire immune system. When gut health suffers so does the rest of your body, and the result for many people are allergy symptoms that flare up each spring.
A common culprit in allergy symptoms is leaky gut, also known as intestinal permeability. Leaky gut is a condition in which the lining of the digestive tract becomes inflamed and porous, allowing undigested foods, bacteria, yeasts, and other toxins into the sterile bloodstream. The immune system launches an attack on these toxins, which creates inflammation throughout the body. For many people, this happens every time they eat. See my blog post 10 Things that Cause Leaky Gut.
This inflammation manifests in different ways for different people. It can cause joint pain, skin problems, digestive complaints, autoimmune disease, issues with brain function, fatigue, chronic pain, and…seasonal allergies.
What causes leaky gut and seasonal allergies?
Leaky gut is very common today and can cause bloating, heartburn, gas, constipation, diarrhea, or pain. However, many people with leaky gut have no digestive symptoms at all.
One of the most common causes of leaky gut is eating gluten, the protein found in wheat, rye, barley, spelt, and other wheat-like grains. Wheat today is not like the wheat from past generations. It has been genetically altered, processed, and stored in ways that make it very damaging to people’s guts.
Sometimes simply removing gluten from the diet can profoundly relieve allergy symptoms by allowing the gut to recover and repair. Because leaky gut leads to food intolerances and food allergies, you may need to eliminate other foods, such as dairy, eggs, or other grains. You may find significant allergy relief by following an anti-inflammatory diet, or you can ask my office about a lab test to screen for food sensitivities. I particularly like Cyrex Labs for this type of testing. See my blog post When a Gluten Free Diet is Not Enough.
Another factor that contributes to leaky gut and allergy symptoms is an imbalance of gut bacteria. The digestive tract holds several pounds of bacteria that play a large role in immune function. When the bad bacteria overwhelm the good, inflammation and allergies result. Leaky gut repair includes nurturing your beneficial bacteria with probiotics and fermented foods to improve allergy symptoms.
Chronic stress also weakens and inflames the digestive tract, causing leaky gut and seasonal allergies. Stress doesn’t just have to come from a stressful lifestyle or lack of sleep, although those certainly play a role. Eating a diet high in sugar and processed foods is stressful to the body, as is an unmanaged autoimmune disease, or hormones that are out of whack and causing miserable PMS or menopausal symptoms. These are just a few metabolic factors that contribute to leaky gut and seasonal allergies.
Find seasonal allergy relief by fixing your leaky gut
You don’t have to needlessly suffer every spring and depend on allergy medicines to function. In fact, you should see your allergies as a red flag that your body needs attention. Leaky gut can lead to much more serious conditions than allergies, such as autoimmune disease (Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, Type 1 diabetes, etc.), depression and anxiety, neurological diseases, and more. By repairing your leaky gut and improving your allergy symptoms, you can prevent or even resolve more serious problems.
Contact my office for more information on how we can help you improve your health. Share this blog post with someone you care about that can benefit from this information.
Dr. Mark Flannery