1. What Is An Allergy?
When you have an allergy, your immune system mistakes an allergen for an invader and overreacts by producing immunoglobulins E (IgE) antibodies. When IgE antibodies bind to receptors on basophils and mast cells, they trigger the release of histamine and other chemicals that result in allergy symptoms.
Asthma and Allergies
Asthma and allergies often occur together. They are related but not the same thing.
Inhaled allergens such as pollen, mold, pet dander and dust mites can trigger asthma symptoms such as shortness of breath, wheezing and chest tightness. This is called allergic asthma.
When asthma is triggered by factors not related to allergies, it is called non-allergic asthma. Such factors includes anxiety, exercise, and cold air.
Symptoms of Allergy
Allergy symptoms usually occur in the nose, lungs, throat, sinuses, ears, lining of the stomach, or on the skin. These symptoms may be as mild as rages, sneezing and coughing or they may be life-threatenining, such as the swelling of air passages that may cause difficulty in breathing and even death. Anaphylaxis is the most serious and sometimes life-threatening allergic reaction.
2. Types of Allergy
Symptoms include itching in the nose, roof of the month, throat, and eyes, sneezing, stuffy and runny nose, tearing eyes, and dark circles under the eyes. Seasonal allergic rhinitis (also known as hay fever) is triggered by pollen in the air and occurs only during the time of the year in which certain plants pollinate. Parennial allergic rhinitis which occurs all year round is triggered by indoor allergens such as saliva and urine found on pet dander, mold, dried skin flakes, dust mite drippings and cockroach droppings.
Food allergies occur when the immune system overreacts to certain proteins found in the food we eat. The majority of food allergies are caused by cow's milk, eggs, fish, peanuts, shellfish, tree nuts and wheat.
Caused by having an adverse reaction to certain medications, a drug allergy is more likely to occur when the medication is taken frequently either through topical application or injection rather than by mouth.
Itching, redness and swelling are common to most skin allergies. Eczema is one the most common skin conditions and is often linked with asthma, hay fever and food allergy.
3. Allergies vs. Colds
Although most allergic reactions present the same symptoms as colds, the two are different. Colds are caused by a virus, whereas allergies are caused by exposure to allergens.
- Runny (clear mucus) or stuffy nose, sneezing, wheezing, watery or itchy eyes. No fever.
- Begins shortly after exposure to an allergen.
- Last as long as exposure
- Similar to allergies, but may also include fever, body aches, and sore throat.
- Develops over several days
- Should clear up within several days.
4. How Diet affects Allergies
Many asthma patients have found that eliminating dairy products from their diets helps. Dairy products are very common causes of upper-respiratory allergies, asthma and other allergic reactions.
Milk protein is the most likely cause of allergy-related asthma due to a milk allergy.
However, some people may not be allergic to the milk itself, but to the antibiotics passed in the milk from dairy cows. If cows are milked within 48 hours after receiving penicillin (to treat inflammation of the udders), penicillin will appear in the milk in small quantities. People who are allergic to penicillin may develop symptoms of penicillin allergy after drinking such milk.
Dairy products such as milk may stimulate excess mucus production and worsen clogging of the lungs, resulting in asthma attacks.
Eliminating milk and meat may greatly reduce asthma symptoms.
In a study involving 24 patents, 71% of the patients experienced an improvement in their asthma symptoms after following a vegan diet for only four months.
According to a study of 690 children in Crete, a high dietary intake of commonly consumed fruits, vegetables and nuts may protect against asthma-like symptoms and allergic rhinitis.
A high intake of nuts was found to be inversely associated with wheezing, whereas margarine increased the risk of both wheezing and allergic rhinitis.
Margarine is a rich source of omega-6 fatty acids such as linoleum acid. An increase in linoleum acid in the diet promotes the formation of pro-inflammatory prostaglandin E2, with a consequent increase in the likelihood of asthma.
5. Cleaner Environment = Higher Risk of Allergies?
There appears to be a significant relationship between extremely clean environments and a rise in certain allergies and auto-immune diseases.
The hygiene hypothesis proposes that childhood exposure to common pathogens is important for building healthy immune responses.
According to the hygiene hypothesis, extremely clean environments do not provide the necessary exposure to the germs required to "educate" the immune system so it can learn to launch its defense responses to infectious organisms.
Lack of exposure to a variety of quantity of microbes contributes to an increase in the rate of allergies.
The more children are exposed to germs, certain types of infection, and social interaction, the more they can help their immune systems to develop naturally into a less allergic and better-regulated state of being. However, improved hygiene and sanitation and smaller family sizes have reduced the exposure of the immune system to a wide range of bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms.
Scientists observed that most children suffering from common allergies such eczema and hay fever came from smaller families or had no siblings. Children raised in large families or with more siblings were likely to have increased exposure to infectious agents and developed fewer allergy symptoms.
Less Exposure to Animals
A study published in Clinical & Experimental Allergy suggested that children who live with dogs and cats in their first year of life are less likely to develop allergies to these animals later in life.
Meanwhile, other studies also suggest that children whose mothers were exposed to farming and cowsheds during pregnancy have reduced chances of getting allergic diseases.
Lack of such exposure can lead to overactive of immune system that misfires against harmless substances such as pet dander and food proteins. This could explain why allergic diseases continue to escalate worldwide, especially in highly developed countries.
Less Exposure to Harmless Bacteria and Viruses
The hygiene hypothesis also attempts to explain the increased rates of asthma due to reduced exposure to harmless bacteria and viruses during childhood. Exposure to bacterial toxins in early childhood may prevent the development of asthma.
Lower rates of asthma on farms and in households with pets lend support to the hygiene hypothesis.
A possible explanation for this my be found in the results of an experimental study in which scientists exposed mice to cockroach or protein allergens. They discovered that mice previously exposed to dog-associated dust had greatly reduced asthma-associated inflammatory responses in the lungs when compared to mice that were exposed to dust from homes without pets or mice not exposed to any dust. The protected mice have Lactobacillus johnsonii, a bacteria species in their gut micro biome. When the scientists fed Lactobacillus johnsonii to mice, they found that it could prevent airway inflammation due to allergens or even respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection. Severe RSV infection in infancy is associated with elevated asthma risk.
Extremely Clean Environments
A study involving 1659 Italian military cadets revealed that respiratory allergy was less frequent in people heavily exposed to orofecal and food borne microbes like Toxoplasma gondii, Helicobacter pylori, and Hepatitis A virus. The findings suggest that hygiene and a Westernized, semisterile diet may contribute to allergic asthma and rhinitis in developed countries.
6. How to Prevent Allergy
Some risk factors for allergies are out of our control (for example, allergies tend to run in families). However, there are measures that we can take to help prevent allergies from developing in children.
** Tips for Pregnant Women **
Infants whose mothers smoked during pregnancy have a fourfold increased risk of having allergic skin diseases by 18 months of age. Regular exposure to secondhand smoke increases the mother's and the baby's risk of developing allergies.
2. Eat peanuts and tree nuts if you are not allergic to them.
Pregnant women who are not allergic to peanuts and tree nuts and who eat more of them during pregnancy may lower the risk of their child developing an allergy to these foods according to a study published in JAMA Pediatrics.
3. Try to give birth naturally if you do not have any medical condition.
Babies born by Cesarean section (C-Section) are five times more likely to develop allergies than those born naturally when exposed to high levels of common home allergens according to a study by Henry Ford Hospital.
C-section babies lacked the Bacteroidetes (one of the major groups of gut bacteria) or acquired them late when compared with babies delivered through their mothers' birth canals. The Bacteroidetes are important for priming the immune system to respond appropriately to triggers. When the immune system overreacts through a lack of good gut bacteria, this can lead to allergies, diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease.
** Tips for Parents **
Breast milk contains substances that benefit the baby's immune system. Breast-fed babies have gut bacteria different from those in babies who drink cow's milk. Exclusive breast-feeding is recommended for at least four months and up to six months of age.
2. Help your children stay a healthy weight.
Fat babies are adorable, but the extra weight increases their risk of developing allergies. Compared to normal-weight children, overweight children were 16% more likely to have asthma, and obese children were 37% more likely according to a U.S. study involving over 600,000 children.
3. Introduce potentially allergenic foods between four to six months of age.
This may reduce the risk of food allergy according to new recommendations by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice. The AAAAI advises trying a few typical baby foods, such as oat cereal, fruits or vegetables and once these are well-tolerated, introducing potentially allergenic foods such as cow's milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts and fish.
4. Avoid Antibiotics.
Avoid antibiotics, especially for children aged two years and young. A study showed a link between antibiotics use in the first two years of life and asthma at age 7.5 years.
*Always consult your doctor first.
There is currently no cure for allergies.
Avoiding your allergic triggers is the most important step in preventing allergic reactions.
Skin or blood tests can help to identify these triggers.
Medication such as antihistamines and decongestanta help ease symptoms like sneezing and runny nose.
Steroids are also used for symptoms relief, but they reduce immune activity, thereby lowering resistance to infection and delaying healing in the long run. Using topical steroids in large doses over prolonged periods may affect children's growth. Other options include allergy shots, epinephrine injections and monoclonal antibodies.
8. Nature's Power Against Allergies
Harness the power of plant foods to help reduce allergic reactions.
Chacones present in ashitaba plant help reduce allergy symptoms by inhibiting the release of histamine.
Kumazasa helps enhance liver function, enabling the liver to work more efficiently as the body's filter. Its lignin also has cleansing effects on the liver.
As a convenience, you can get the above superfoods from the wholesome food called ORCHESTRA (made of Kumazasa and Ashitaba):
How can a kid consume Orchestra?
3. Superfoods rich in Antioxidants and Phytochemicals
- Cactus, Cactus Fruits, Ginseng Berry, Grape Seed, Rose and Seaweed
As a convenience, you can get the above superfoods from a wholesome food called OXYGINBERRY (made of the above 6 superfoods)
- Read more about OXYGINBERRY
9. Change Your Lifestyle
Allergies have a strong connection to the immune system. That is why it is essential to maintain a balanced immune system. Keep your immune system happy by eating more plant foods, reducing meat intake, exercising regularly, and thinking positively - and see the difference in your health and life!
a) A lady with psoriasis
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Wishing all babies and children grow healthily =)
Wishing all babies and children grow healthily =)
Nutritional Immunology Consultant
Nutritional Immunology Consultant
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