Let's Talk About Allergies!
ALLERGIES COME IN MANY FORMS AND ARE AFFECTED BY VARIOUS FACTORS
Gut Health and Allergies
Naturally, a healthy gut membrane is semi-permeable, allowing for broken down nutrients from food to pass into the bloodstream to go to where they are needed in the body. A leaky gut membrane is more permeable than it should be, allowing bacteria and toxins escape the gut and enter the bloodstream. From there, these grubby little monsters flow through our bodies, wreaking havoc along the way.
One such example is gluten. Gluten may be harmless when appropriately broken down and kept within the digestive tract, but in the case of individuals who lack the enzymes to effectively break it down and additionally have a hyper-permeable gut membrane major problems can arise! When gluten proteins escape into the bloodstream, the body recognizes it as a foreign invader (much like a virus), and begins an immune response to attack it. This can yield systemic inflammation, which may go unnoticed at first, but may present as weight gain, skin eruptions (acne, eczema, hives), chronic pain, fatigue, brain fog, and other terribly unpleasant symptoms. Inflammation is the immune system's way of isolating and attacking organisms and substances which do not belong in the body. Furthermore, as these substances which do not belong in the bloodstream make their way through the body and become recognized by the immune system as unwelcome invaders, the body often becomes "allergic" to the substance in question. As a result, things which for most people are normal and harmless, become toxic, triggering broad systemic immune responses.
This is a big part of why gut health is so important! A healthy gut keeps food within the digestive tract and effectively breaks it down to release only the fundamental components (think amino acids, sugars, lipids) into the rest of the body to fuel DNA reproduction and cell health. A healthy gut also has a healthy population of good bacteria to aid in digestion. One of the biggest drawbacks of antibiotics is that it kills these healthy gut bacteria, which are vital to healthy digestion. Without this good bacteria, food ferments in the gut, creating gas, discomfort, poor metabolism and elimination, and inflammatory responses, like the development of new allergies. This is just one of many reasons why gut health is so vital to overall health and wellness. The modern American diet is not well designed for gut health, and may be causing more problems than you think. If you are concerned about your gut health, schedule an appointment with Dr. Phillips to discuss what changes or supplements might be right for you.
Adrenals are glands which sit on top of the kidneys and produce important hormones which regulate our energy levels, including cortisol and adrenaline. They play a key role in the "fight or flight" response, alerting our physical systems to threat and releasing the compounds to handle that threat. While this may have been a life-saving mechanism historically, in our modern world, the threats to which our bodies respond are far less pressing and far more common (OHMYGOSHI'MGOINGTOBELATE!!!), keeping our bodies on constant edge, which over time can wear on our adrenal glands, making them less efficient at producing these important hormones and causing them to malfunction, producing the wrong things at the wrong times, or sometimes even not at all. The repercussions of this can be drastic, affecting our weight, mood, appetite, energy, libido, and much more, as hormones dictate a majority of our vital functions. While cortisol is best known for its role in weight management, it is less well known for its role in inflammation--that is, it is responsible for monitoring and counteracting inflammation in the body.
When our adrenal glands are fatigued and unable to produce sufficient cortisol to perform this function, inflammatory responses, like histamine reactions are left unchecked, leading to the development of more allergies as well as the worsening of symptoms for existing allergies. This creates a particularly vicious cycle, as elevated histamines stimulate the adrenals to produce more cortisol, further fatiguing the overstimulated glands. If you are concerned about your adrenals, Dr. Phillips is well versed in balancing and improving adrenal health, and would be happy to guide you in strengthening them.
We are all familiar with the idea of seasonal allergies. As seasons change, new pollens fill the air, swept on breezes near and far. Ragweed, a plant found virtually everywhere, is a strong example. A single ragweed plant can produce up to 1 billion pollen grains. Ragweed pollen is extremely light, and highly potent. Though the majority is found close to its source, it has been found carried as far as 400 miles out to sea, and 2 miles up into the atmosphere. If you are sensitive to Ragweed, it is pretty tough to avoid. Studies have found 75% of people allergic to pollen to be allergic to Ragweed. Treating Ragweed and pollen allergies can significantly impact one's experience of seasonal changes, making them far less inflammatory times. As Spring begins and wildflowers begin to bloom all around us, many of us are affected by major histamine responses, especially in this "super bloom" season we are experiencing, following such a heavy rainy season. If you are feeling less than your best as the flowers bloom, call to schedule an appointment to eliminate these allergies once and for all, and allow yourself to enjoy the beauty of Spring again!