Living With Allergies And Autoimmune

digestion inflammation stress supplements May 01, 2023
Allergies and autoimmune

Tips to help you seasonal allergies when you have autoimmune.


Flowers and trees and pollen, oh my!

Spring has sprung. The trees are awake and flowers are poking their heads out of the earth while a dustbowl of dead leaves, mould spores and debris from the winter season dance around the yard (at least here in Canada).


Do you suffer from seasonal allergies? You’re not alone. It is estimated that 40 – 60 million North Americans experience some form of allergic rhinitis (hay fever or seasonal allergies). The most common allergy – ragweed (part of the echinacea family).

I have about 20+ diagnosed (fixed allergies). This includes food, trees, grasses, mold, animals and medications. I don’t have a “season” … they impact me year round.

I have seen allergists since I was a child, have received allergy shots, been taken to the hospital for difficulty breathing (oxygen mask required), and was even put on rounds of tetracycline and prednisone due to allergic reaction to “unknown things” that presented itself as a rash all over my body.  I’m even allergic to an ingredient in antihistamines!

And yet, I manage to keep them under control … they actually bother me LESS now then when I was younger and when I relied on medications and puffers to keep me afloat. 

Part of the solution included learning how to lower the histamine load (unnecessary exposure) while also improving how the body breaks down and removes histamine. This is a similar concept to lowering a person’s inflammatory load and improving stress tolerance when living with autoimmune. When the body is overburdened, our symptoms amplify.

So how do you do so? How to you address histamine and autoimmune at the same time?

With an integrative approach, leaning into things within your control, that also align with your specialists’ recommendations.

In this article, I’m discussing:

  • The importance of gut health in your immune response
  • Supportive nutrition for autoimmune + histamine intolerance
  • Lifestyle support (what most people miss)


Gut Health & Allergies


Over 80% of your immunity is found in your gut … unhealthy or imbalanced gut equals a compromised immune system. Research in the past decade connecting microbiome (bacteria in your gut) to respiratory and skin allergic reactions is growing. In particular, there are strains of bacteria that release additional histamine (strep, staph, klebsiella, candida albicans) which your body needs to break down, adding to your histamine load. These can also be abundant in those with autoimmune.

Poor gut health and antibiotics is definitely part of my personal story ... it wasn't until I addressed my own imbalances through food, select supplements and lifestyle changes ... that my asthmatic allergies, eczema and psoraisis outbreaks improved (among other biomarkers of health like energy, mood, metabolism).

Improving gut health starts with dietary changes.

The right diet really depends on your symptoms (some guidance below). However, improving gut health is not about food alone. It requires identifying and removing bacterial imbalances which can trigger a response in the body, and then rebuilding gut health with more friendly, beneficial bacteria for a more balanced immune response. This is not to say gut health will "cure" your allergies ... they won't. It's to emphasize that you're improving your natural defences and how your body metabolizes the nutrients and chemicals that are important or play a role in an immune response.

CAUTION: Eating and drinking probiotic-rich foods like sauerkraut and kombucha can sometimes make symptoms worse, especially if a person has an overgrowth of certain bacteria or yeast (common with a history of antibiotics and prednisone).  This is where a probiotic can be helpful and some gut support can be helpful. If you're not taking a probiotic, it's worth speaking to healthcare practitioner about whether they are right for you. 

>> Click here to learn more about gut health with autoimmune and the strategies I consider


What To Eat With Autoimmune & Seasonal Allergies


Food can help or aggravate allergies, even if you don’t have a food allergy, so start taking note of key triggers and replace them with foods that are known to support your immune system and allergic response. This is important if you’re finding you’re not noticing the changes you would like while eating sugar, dairy or even gluten free.

Key foods to watch include:

  • High histamine foods (canned, fermented, vinegars, along with select fruit and veg like tomatoes, avocado or bananas) ... these are abundant in many autoimmune-friendly diets like AIP, Paleo and even the Mediterranean Diet.
  • DAO blocking caffeine (DAO stands for diamine oxidase which is the enzyme responsible for breaking down histamine)
  • Histamine releasing foods like bananas, cow dairy, nuts, and artificial preservatives and food dyes.
  • Special note … many people with ragweed allergies don’t realize that melons, bananas, cucumbers, sunflower seeds, Echinacea and chamomile are from the same family and can make symptoms worse!

Not to worry, there are LOTS of food you can enjoy that are supportive and healing:

  • Raw local honey tops the list
  • Fresh fruit, vegetables which are high in antioxidants and fibre to support immune and gut health.
  • Vitamin C-rich foods like kiwi, citrus, berries, and leafy greens can be helpful for some people.
  • Quercetin-rich foods like citrus fruits, apples, onions, parsley, sage, tea, olive oil, grapes, dark cherries, and dark berries such as blueberries, blackberries, and bilberries can be helpful for those who have allergies. Quercetin is a powerful bioflavonoid and antioxidant
  • Stick with freshly cooked animal protein, fish, vegetables, gluten free grains or grain-free starch swaps like root vegetables, healthy fats
  • Try herbs for flavour and additional nutrient density, like basil and rosemary.

If you need help figuring out what to eat for your autoimmune and allergies, you'll definitely want to book a call with me to discuss your situation. As someone who has 53 years of living with allergies combined with autoimmune, my focus in on helping you eat MORE, not less. 


3 Effective Lifestyle Habits For Allergies


Learning how to live with allergies is more than just food. Here are three options to consider when allergies are getting the best of you:

#1 Unmanaged STRESS can make allergy and autoimmune symptoms worse! This is the most overlooked (and essential) skill to help manage inflammation (or in this case, how you’re reacting to the environment).

Keep your stress levels in check and refer back to some stress management techniques I’ve already shared with you, like breathwork and yoga for calming the nervous system down, supporting respiratory health and detoxification through the lungs! If you missed those trainings, you can start with "How Stress Messes With Your Health".

In fact, a research study of Hatha yoga showed significant benefits for allergic rhinitis, including improved nasal flow and cytokine production.

If you’re skeptical about yoga because you have range of motion issues, rest assured any BODY can do yoga with a mindful approach and the best way to get started, is to just try it! It’s benefits for the lymphatic system, stress management and a better immune response are why it’s a key recommendation by all autoimmune-related associations and doctors for women living with autoimmune.

If you need help getting started on a mindful yoga practice, make sure you're on the Waitlist for our Autoimmune Jumpstart. We have a free program, followed by an amazing, affordable membership dedicated towards all fitness levels and specifically for women with range of motion challenges.

#2 Have a shower before bed to help rinse away the daytime pollen and allergens. I’m a big advocate for sleeping with the window open, but during peak allergy season, you may be better off with the window closed for a time being. Fresh sheets (cleaned weekly) will also help with a better night’s sleep, as can an air cleaner.

#3 Stay hydrated – this helps expel excess mucous and supports digestive and lymphatic health (moving things out of the body). Your lymphatic and digestive systems are major parts of your immune response. Anything you can do to support these systems will benefit your allergic response.


Need Support? Book A Free Call!

I hope you found these tips helpful. If you need guidance in applying them to your life, let's talk! Every week, I save a few spots for motivated women (and a few good men) who want to use functional and holistic nutrition and lifestyle changes to improve their situation. The calls are 45-Minutes and I guarantee, you'll get a lot out of our time together, whether you choose to work with me or not.

>> Click here to book your free call




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