Love Your Gut: 5 Ways to Improve Food Allergy Symptoms and Asthma
For reasons unknown, food allergies are increasing in prevalence by 50% in American children.
The frequency of food allergies and asthma is noticeably higher in Western countries compared to that of developing countries.
That means half of our children will develop some type of food allergy, eczema, and/or asthma – all of which are seriously threatening their safety.
Any disruption in the balance of your gut bacteria can cause a spiraling reaction in your immune system.
The things you eat and the medications you take can affect your development of these food sensitivities. And studies have shown if you develop a food allergy within the first year of life asthma normally appears within school-age of children.
So gut microbiota, food allergies, and asthma is a relationship worth understanding.
Taking care of your gut microbiota can help decrease your reaction to triggering foods and even alleviate asthma attacks.
Strengthen Your Immune System with Bacteria
We’ve all either seen or even been the parent who sanitizes every toy their kid touches or stops them from rolling around in the dirt.
We normally cringe when see kids pick something off the floor and put it straight in their mouth.
As parents, you think you’re protecting your kids from what you can’t see – bad bacteria.
But, what research is showing is that these dirty microbes are actually molding your kids immune systems into little fighting warriors.
Your gut houses 80% of your immune system. Your gut bacteria teaches your T-cells between foreign substances and your body’s own tissue. If you aren’t allowing this training process to happen your body won’t recognize the difference.
It’s like trying to run a marathon without training. By the first couple of miles, you run out of steam because your body hasn’t been trained for such an endurance run.
Surprisingly, in more developed countries the prevalence of allergies and asthma is significantly higher. You would think it would be the opposite – that less developed countries with decreased sanitation standards and more bacteria would cause increased allergies and asthma.
Underdeveloped countries do have decreased sanitation standards, but this increasing their exposure time to bacteria. This strengthens their immune system by teaching them the difference between what’s healthy and what’s harmful.
Environmental Factors Affecting Your Food Allergies and Asthma
When you’re young, your body needs to come in contact with a range of microorganisms to teach your immune system about the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The following environmental factors decrease microbial exposure, which has been shown to increase your child’s risk of developing food allergies and asthma:
- Chemical exposure
- Standard American Diet
- Antibacterial soaps and antimicrobial products
- C-section birth
- Formula feeding
- Decreased time spent outdoors
Studies showed that children had a lower incidence of allergic reactions and asthma if they:
- Had exposure to dogs and cats in the first year of life
- Lived in a rural populations such as farming environments during childhood
- Consumed raw, unpasteurized milk
- Were children from large families
What Happens in Your Body During an Allergic Reaction?
When your body develops a food allergy your immune system mistakenly attacks a protein within the food, producing immunoglobulin E (IgE) to protect your body.
This is because your immune system hasn’t recognized the protein as good.
It’s like a child crying when a family member they haven’t seen in awhile tries to hold them – stranger danger! Well, your body reacts the same way when it hasn’t been taught what’s good and what’s bad.
Once the food protein enters your body again, IgE is released and binds to mast cells and basophils. This process activates these cells to release inflammatory mediators such as histamines, tryptase, leukotrienes, inflammatory cytokines, and protease.
This immediate allergic reaction occurs within in minutes.
The immediate allergic reaction can lead to intense inflammation, wheezing, itching, rash, trouble breathing, asthma reactions, and even anaphylactic shock.
5 Ways to Improve Food Allergy Symptoms and Asthma
A study by the National Institutes of Health proved a relationship between infants gut microbiota and the development of allergies and asthma.
Infants at high risk developed food allergies and asthma when they had a low abundance of certain bacteria including:
These children who developed allergies and asthma were also found to have an increased number of the following bacterias:
There is a significant relationship between the bacteria in your gut, allergies, and asthma. Try these 5 things to help improve food allergy symptoms and asthma not only in children but adults as well.
This is in the most literal way – Let your kids get dirty occasionally – let them run amok in the dirt, play with plenty of friends, and get outside! Exposure to bacteria is key to the development of their immune system.
Some parents feel confused because there are microbes out there that can make kids very sick, but the CDC has great recommendations about when to clean and when not to clean.
Avoid Inflammatory Foods
It’s important to continue to avoid your trigger foods because when your gut is in a constant state of inflammation it can’t properly heal. Like breaking your ankle and continuing to walk on it – you can bet you’ll never walk the same again if you don’t let it heal properly.
Inflammatory foods are foods that are highly processed with high sugar and fat contents.
Basically, avoid any fast food and/or junk food at all cost.
Eat a Whole Foods Diet
You hear it over and over again – “eat a whole foods diet to improve (insert any disease here).” The same is true with food allergies and asthma. Eating a whole food diet feeds your good bacteria and helps balance your gut dysbiosis. Whole foods are any food in their whole form, not processed and no added sugars.
Foods to load up on include:
- Green leafy vegetables
- Nuts and seeds
- Whole grains
- Meat and poultry
Feed Your Gut Bacteria
Not only does a whole food diet feed your gut bacteria, but try eating fermented foods as well. This acts as a natural probiotic to help heal your gut from food allergies. Fermented foods include kefir, yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles.
Get Tested and Treated for SIBO
Most SIBO patients produce a large number of histamines due to the overgrowth of bacteria in their gut, this can lead to histamine intolerance. Histamines are a key mediator in your allergic reaction and can decrease permeability in your gut.
This allows histamines to cross the natural barrier in your gut to your bloodstream – resulting in more severe allergic reactions. Increased levels of histamine-producing bacteria have been found to be higher in asthma patients as well.
The healthy growth of your immune system depends on exposure to microbes, the foods you eat, and the environment you grow up in.