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Allergies; Could your gut be to blame?

More than 70% of your immune system lies in your gastrointestinal tract, with trillions of gut microbes regulating immune responses daily. Altered gut health can hugely influence how we react to allergens, and if your struggle with allergies is pushing you to your limit, it's time to find the root cause and closely look at your gut health and function.

Allergies occur when your immune system overreacts to something that is usually harmless (pollen, dust, grass), triggering the inflammatory response and resulting in the presentation of allergic symptoms. These allergic symptoms may range from hay fever, digestive upset, asthma, eczema, or anaphylaxis. It’s easy to reach for over-the-counter medications, such as antihistamines, to provide short-term relief; however, if you’re ready to support your allergies in the long term, targeting the underlying drivers is the key.

Allergies and the Gut

Your gut bacteria is a foundation for optimal health, specifically when it comes to modulating the immune response and reducing over-reactivity. The relationship between the gut and the immune system is complex as they are completely intertwined. Research suggests poor gut health and dysbiosis is a key feature of individuals with allergies, and dysbiosis can contribute to inflammation in and beyond the gut.

Histamine is involved in the body’s inflammatory immune response and is produced by mast cells and basophils (immune cells). The release of histamine can cause common allergic responses and symptoms. Supporting your gut health, reducing dysbiosis, and improving beneficial gut bacteria will help regulate immune system function and reduce common allergy symptoms.

A Leaky Gut

A leaky gut, also known as intestinal permeability, is the weakening of the gut barrier, the lining of the intestinal wall, resulting from gut inflammation and dysbiosis. The gut barrier acts to protect the body from harmful substances, blocking them from entering the bloodstream. A leaky gut may be the result of a poor diet, medications and chronic stress, to name a few.

When we eat food, it’s broken down by the digestive system, and nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream to be transported around the body. When working properly, the gut lining forms a tight barrier, controlling what is absorbed into the bloodstream. When the gut lining is compromised, and the cell lining pulls apart (creating cracks and holes), a leaking of partially digested foods, toxins and bacteria into the bloodstream occurs. This triggers more inflammation and a cascade of immune responses that worsen allergy severity and symptoms.

The microbes that reside in our gut work alongside the immune system to help protect the individual against harmful bacteria and disease. Yet, inflammation is more prevalent when the gut lining is damaged and permeable. The strong connection between the gut and the immune system emphasises the need to support optimal digestive function to address an overactive immune system response.

The Naturopathic Approach to Allergies

In order to treat an individual, the best place to start is to support the immune system and overall gut health and function. This may be done with a thorough investigation, case taking and pathology tests to assess the underlying drivers. From here, an individualised treatment plan will be created, which may include specific herbs or nutrients as well as dietary and lifestyle considerations to address symptom relief, support the immune system, improve gut health and reduce inflammation.

For advice on gut health and further support, speak with a practitioner at Infinite Health Studio.

At the Infinite Health Studio, our experienced team of practitioners use a holistic approach paired with evidence-based medicine to help support you on your health journey.

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