ACHOO!Interestingly, allergies and hay-fever have not always been a human trait. In fact, they’re relatively new to us. Seasonal allergies may have begun as recently as the Industrial Revolution, and—this is the intriguing part—they only hit the upper classes. It was so unique to the upper classes that it immediately became fashionable. Every spring and fall, sneezing and congestion were super posh. Amazing, isn’t it? The power the social status can make almost anything cool. Today it feels much less sophisticated to have allergies because they’re so darn common! Thirty percent of adults deal with yearly allergies and the rates are only going up<1>. What started with only a handful of aristocrats is now so commonplace that commercials fill the airways with allergy remedies. It made me think, What happened? Why are we dealing with so many allergies?
The reason is one of a mistaken identity.Our immune system is no longer able to see pollen, dust, and dander as harmless invaders and is attacking them like a virus or bacteria. The thing is, pollen and dust do look similar to viruses…but not quite. When our immune system is balanced and happy, it can differentiate between the two properly. But when our immune system is overworked and overwhelmed, it starts to get confused. We’re now beginning to understand why our immune system gets so overwhelmed, and for that answer, we need to take a look at our gut and our gut bacteria.
Our immune system spends a lot of time around our gut.About 70% of our immune system lives around our small and large intestine, which is also home to our gut bacteria. Our gut bacteria colony is huge, equal to our own cell count and maybe even a bit more. What’s most important is which came first: our bacteria or our immune system? Our bacteria! The primitive immune system developed with bacteria and learned to work with it. Today, our gut bacteria play an important role in modulating, or balancing, our immune system. It literally tells our immune system when to react and when not to react, so a lot of our immune system imbalances, like allergies, auto-immune conditions, and chronic inflammation, stem from an imbalance in our gut. It was a change in the gut bacteria of the upper-class during the Industrial Revolution that triggered those first allergy attacks. And that change came from their cleaner lifestyle. They had access to cleaner water and better sanitation, and they no longer had the same input of day-to-day bacteria they had in their country-life.
Less balanced gut bacteria = more allergies.So, what can you do if you’re one of the millions of allergy sufferers? All is not lost. We can rebalance our gut bacteria at any time and reduce our symptoms. This process has relieved me of my seasonal allergies, it really works!
Take a quality probiotic
Feed your gut bacteria with its favorite foods
Soothe your irritated lungs and nasal passages with Respir-Essence*
Lisa Kilgour is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN), founder of LisaKilgour.com, and a faculty member at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition.<1> http://www.aafa.org/page/allergy-facts.aspx