How Paleo can help with hay fever season
If you’re like me, being one of those people that suffer from hay fever every year, you want to have a good read of this.
The change of seasons can be a beautiful thing and it can also wreak havoc on our sinuses giving us congestion, watery and itchy eyes, pressure headaches, stuffy noses, uncontrollable sneezing and the list goes on. What’s worse is, it can affect our sense of taste with our food! No one wants to lose the ability to taste delicious food.
Why do we suffer from seasonal allergies?
Our innate immune system believes that the airborne pollen floating around is a threat to our bodies and overreacts to it’s presence flooding your body with histamine which in turn gives us those hay fever symptoms. This response is great for things that are actually dangerous to our bodies, but for something like pollen, do we really need this reaction?
Back in our hunter-gatherer days, everyone had parasites. When we have an overload of these in our body, it can cause us some serious nutrient deficiencies, impaired neurological development and many other nasties (1).
Nowadays, we know that these bugs in moderate doses can actually protect against autoimmune disease, food allergies and other immune-related conditions. The way this happens is they give our immune systems something to do which in turn calms our immune system down. With the constant flow of parasites in moderate doses keeps our immune system busy. Busy enough that it doesn’t have time to overreact to harmless intruders like egg whites.
Pollen allergies are regulated by IgE, which is the same antibody system that reacts to parasites. Populations that hold higher parasite loads have lower rates of seasonal allergies.
Some people also have more active immune systems based on their genetics.
Environment also makes a difference. During childhood, it’s important to get dirty. Sterility of the child’s environment can influence and increase the reactions to pollen and other irritants (2).
What nutrients and lifestyle choices are important to help prevent season allergies/hay fever?
Vitamin D: Studies have shown that people with low vitamin D levels are at bigger risk of hay fever (3). One study has also shown hay fever symptoms improving with a simple vitamin D supplementation (4).
Omega-3s: Increasing your EPA through diet showed the reduction of symptoms in both German adults and Japanese females (5) (6). By increasing consumption of fish (fish fat) reduced hay fever symptoms.
Gut Health: Poor gut health is well known to be a factor for intolerances by the increased gut permeability. Those leaky junctions may also open up to non-food allergens, which can stimulate an immune response (7).
Raw Honey: By slowly introducing raw honey into the diet, you are consuming small doses of pollen, which can help improve allergic sensitization to help relieve hay fever symptoms (8).
Stress: This could be a cycle that happens, so it makes it hard to identify which is the causal. It could be the higher symptoms of hay fever increasing stress or it could be stress causing the higher symptoms of hay fever. We do know that stress causes worse gut health; so keeping your stress at bay is a fair call to help reduce your seasonal symptoms.
The change of seasons should be something we get excited about, not something we dread. By following a Paleo diet and lifestyle, your seasonal allergy symptoms can greatly improve.
(1) What Discovery of Oldest Human Poop Reveals About Neanderthals' Diet
(2) Growing up on a farm leads to lifelong protection against allergic rhinitis.
(3) Vitamin D serum levels in allergic rhinitis: any difference from normal population?
(5) Allergic sensitisation and allergic rhinitis are associated with n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in the diet and in red blood cell membranes.
(6) Fish and fat intake and prevalence of allergic rhinitis in Japanese females: the Osaka Maternal and Child Health Study.
(7) Probiotics in the Treatment of Chronic Rhinoconjunctivitis and Chronic Rhinosinusitis
(8) Birch pollen honey for birch pollen allergy--a randomized controlled pilot study.