The link between hay fever, allergies and gut health
Did you know that 80% of your immune system resides in your gut? And did you know that serotonin - often referred to as the happy hormone - is also made in the gut?
Therefore, a happy gut = a happy you!
Having a healthy functioning gut population of microbes protects and boosts our ability to cope with infections. A gut that is rich in beneficial microbes supports an anti-inflammatory environment which in turn can help cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
With the rate of allergies, sensitivities and intolerances (including hay fever) increasing each year, sufferers are often desperate to find a solution that does not involve the harsh side effects of steroid drugs or other pharmaceutical medication.
So, what is hay fever?
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, animal dander, feathers, 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 and inflamed nasal passages and sinuses.
How does gut health specifically help hay fever and other allergies, intolerances and sensitivities?
Now we know that 80% of our immune function takes place within the gut, researchers have begun looking into how inflammation and allergies are related to gut health and food intake. Gut permeability (sometimes referred to casually as ‘leaky gut’) can be a contributing factor to allergies as it enables larger, partially digested particles of food to pass through the walls of the digestive system and create an autoimmune response.
There is mounting evidence to highlight the importance of nourishing our health-promoting beneficial bacteria to keep microbes in check. While probiotic supplements have their place in repopulating an imbalanced gut microbiome, it’s also vitally important to optimise the conditions in which the beneficial bacteria will grow.
And this is where good nutrition comes into play…
A healthy, nutritionally balanced diet influences health by creating an optimal environment for beneficial bacteria in the gut while simultaneously decreasing numbers of pathogenic bacteria, yeast or fungi.
It is important to decrease intake of processed and sugar-rich foods and instead choosing a wide variety of home-cooked, natural foods made from real ingredients. Complex carbohydrates and fibre are especially useful as the bad bacteria in the gut prefer simple sugars.
To put it simply: healing your gut issues can help reduce inflammation and auto-immune responses as well as decreasing the likelihood of developing allergies such as hay fever or food sensitivities and intolerances.
According to Greg Leyer, Ph.D., ‘Eating clean and natural foods, nourishing your gut and having a healthy intestinal community are really at the core of wellness.’
How can I help you?
As a Nutritionist and Functional Medicine Practitioner, I use a combination of tests, questionnaires, client feedback and professional experience to help find the root cause of symptoms before prescribing a specific food plan and (where necessary) supplements to help restore optimum health.
The Food Inflammation Test (FIT) is a high quality, food sensitivity blood test which can measure up to 132 of the most common foods, colourings and additives. In addition to measuring reactions to these ingredients, it can also measure microbes for candida and other yeasts. The foods identified in the test are those which are causing inflammation and/or those which have been excessively and repeatedly consumed.
Common food sensitivities include gluten, dairy, coffee, yeast, eggs and nuts and produce immune-mediated reactions that can typically affect any system in the body, not just the gut. In contrast, food intolerances are not immune-mediated and show up generally as gut symptoms.
Here’s what a couple of my happy clients have to say now their gut issues have been solved and treated:
‘Pippa has changed my life, quite literally!
I have had so many gut related issues over several years, to the point i had thought it was ‘normal’ and then someone recommended Pippa. After having a face time consultation and several emails between us, I finally felt I was talking to someone who understood what was happening and more importantly she could help. Fast forward 3 months and I feel great. No gluten, no dairy, limited sugar and coffee intake and I feel great. This sounds dramatic but once I had got my head around things, It has now become my ‘normal’ way of life. I sleep better, I feel better, my skin is more ‘alive’. I can eat a meal without looking pregnant within 5 minutes and not feeling so uncomfortable with excess trapped wind. Pippa is great, so personal, listens and offers solutions. There at the end of an email, message or telephone. I can’t thank her enough.’ - Lauren Mortimer
‘I want to tell the world about how amazing this has all been for me. Your help has honestly healed so many things for me. No laxatives, no more peripheral oedema, no more antihistamines. And I can now eat everything in moderation and still not get problems.’ - Dr Sophie Shotter
Click HERE to find out more about 1-1 Nutrition Consultations (including testing for food allergies) or to book your appointment with me.