The Gut Connection to a Rise in Allergies

food allergyHave you ever taken notice of how many foods in the grocery store boast what ingredients are missing from their products? They don’t have gluten, sugar, dairy, and aren’t manufactured where tree nuts are found. 

While this is fantastic for those who have allergies or sensitivities to foods, these weren’t the norm in the past. They’ve become more necessary in recent years as food intolerance and allergies have increased. 

There are a lot of factors that go into play here, but most of them originate in the gut. So it makes sense that if we are going to reduce these problems that we start where the root of the problem is, i.e. in our tummies.

What Exactly Are Food Allergies, Sensitivities, and Intolerances?

It should be noted that allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances are totally different reactions within our bodies. 

Allergies are a systemic reaction that ignites your immune system when something it comes into contact with is perceived as a danger. So your body sort of overreacts to this stimulus causing you to break out in hives, swell, or in the worst cases restrict breathing and potentially death.

Sensitivities are not well understood. They are certain trigger foods that cause brain fog, achy joints, and other unfavorable symptoms anytime that food is consumed. 

Intolerances are most commonly seen with dairy products in patients with lactose intolerance. Intolerances aren’t as serious as allergies but they’re generally more uncomfortable and life-altering than sensitivities. In the case of lactose intolerance, your body doesn’t have enough of the proper enzymes to break down the lactose leaving too much hanging out in the digestive tract and causing the symptoms of bloating, gas, and diarrhea. 

Why Has There Been an Increase in Food Allergies?

There are several different factors that need to be taken into account for the increase in allergies. To claim it is just one, wouldn’t make sense since all of the things that will be mentioned have definitive factors that lead to higher allergy rates. 

Chemical Exposure

From BPAs to pesticides to preservatives, our bodies are exposed to more chemicals now than ever. Not only do all of these things affect our gut health but they have serious effects on all of our body systems. One of the main ones being an increase in allergy prevalence in countries that use them more frequently. 

Antibiotics

Antibiotics were created to stop bacterial growth with the intention of stopping bacterial infections. While they’re necessary for this, antibiotics aren’t able to tell the difference between good and bad bacteria, they just kill as many bacteria as they can. That unfortunately leads to dysbiosis meaning your gut microbiome is no longer balanced. 

Dysbiosis leads to a decrease in the integrity of your intestinal tract allowing for your bacteria to run rampant throughout your body. They basically like well-behaved children that were given too much sugar and set free in a toy store. They’re outside of their element in a new place without structure so they wreak havoc. 

That causes your body to have an inflammatory response so it can attack the supposed invaders and get your body back to normal. But lengthened states of inflammation lead to other problems like allergies.

Dietary Changes

Western diets that are high in fats and low in fiber aren’t good for your health. We know that but still tend to indulge in our guilty pleasures. Diets low in fiber don’t allow our bodies to have the right balance of bacteria living in our gut. This again decreases the integrity of our GI tract and lets our sneaky bacteria get out. 

So a similar cascade happens as if we have taken antibiotics but in a much slower manner. 

Another thing to consider is breastfeeding vs bottle feeding. While we know that breast is best sometimes the modern lifestyle doesn’t support breastfeeding which leads to a shorter duration of breastfeeding. There’s also a lack in good resources for new moms who want to begin breastfeeding making it a difficult transition. 

A mother’s breast has its own microbiome that the baby is exposed to when he/she latches. In addition to this, the milk always changes based on the age and health of the infant which we know formula cannot do. 

Breastmilk helps to shape an infant’s microbiome for their life. So it is important for new mothers to try breastfeeding even for a short period of time to avoid these potential health concerns.

Natural Birth vs C-Section

The vaginal canal is the first thing your baby is exposed to when coming out of the womb. The vaginal canal has its own microbiome that a baby should be exposed to. 

Doctors have been giving more and more unnecessary c-sections.  It is important though to the health of the babies that they’re exposed to the vaginal bacteria so their skin and overall health aren’t negatively affected by being overly sterile

Overly sterile environments are where the hygiene hypothesis has come from.

The Hygiene Hypothesis

We have increasingly become more obsessed with cleanliness as years have gone by. This is mainly because we were informed that germs make us sick. So to not get sick we avoid the germs. 

However, because we are incessantly trying to avoid germs we aren’t letting our bodies experience things it needs to so our immune system can be fully developed. The underdevelopment of our immune systems means they don’t know what to do when they come into contact with certain things which can cause food allergies. 

Climate Change

Now this one is a little out of our control but there are things we can do to help. With global warming happening (be it a natural event the Earth goes through or a slightly sped-up version because of our modern lifestyles) the climate change cannot be ignored. 

The increased heat indexes cause more pollen and longer seasonal allergy seasons. These cause more of the hay fever-type of allergy and not so much the food allergies but they are an increasing allergy type so it’s worth mentioning. 

 

How to Avoid Food Allergies

Now it might seem a little unavoidable but there are definitely things we can do to help reduce the allergies we may have and to avoid them from being passed onto our kids. 

Eating a well-balanced diet that is full of all sorts of different foods is the main thing. Exposing yourself to more foods means your body will recognize them and avoid the inflammatory response. Make sure to include probiotics and prebiotics in your daily routine be it through food or supplements like Atrantil

Studies have been done on exposing yourself to extremely small doses of foods you are allergic to and it helps to reverse the food allergy. The FDA has even approved a pill form of this for those who suffer from peanut allergies.

**NOTE: Only do this under the guidance and supervision of a licensed health professional.**

When you are having babies make sure you try to go natural and breastfeed. If this isn’t possible, that is okay! You and your baby’s health is the most important thing so don’t stress out if you can’t. Doctors are coming up with tons of different ways to make sure your baby is healthy and has a diverse microbiome. 

Ultimately the best way to help decrease the allergies you’re experiencing is living a healthy lifestyle where you slowly expose your body to new and different things. And don’t be afraid to play in the dirt, it could be the best thing for your health!

Have you tried anything to get rid of your food allergies? If so, what? Let us know in the comments!

The Gut Connection to a Rise in Allergies