This one’s for you, fellow allergy sufferers! Winter is starting to melt away, and now we are gearing up for some sunny spring weather. If you happen to suffer from allergies, you know what spring means. It is a beautiful time of year, but it is also when trees, grasses, weeds and more release pollen into the air to fertilize other plants. As wonderful this is for nature, and for keeping our plants flourishing, it is not so great for our immune system. Our immune system mistakenly sees the pollen as a danger and releases antibodies that attack the allergens, which leads to the release of histamines into the blood. Not to worry, though, because there is something you probably have in your supplement cabinet right now that can help.
Did you know that probiotics can actually help to prevent allergies? Probiotics work to fight bad bacteria from entering your bloodstream. Your mucosal barrier that lines that intestines is only one cell layer thick. Between these cells, there are protective tight junction proteins that act as gatekeepers, allowing for nutrients to be absorbed into the bloodstream through proper channels. Probiotics direct the production of these proteins and also signal them to open and close as needed, so the immune system in the submucosal layers can fight bad bacteria. When tight junction protein function goes awry due to lack of beneficial flora, the immune system can become overly active due to proteins, allergens, and chemicals from food passing through the bloodstream. This can result in both IgE (anaphylactic) and IgC delayed sensitivity allergies.1
When probiotics are taken though, studies show that they start to down-regulate the production of chemicals called cytokines, the inflammatory chemicals produced by the immune cells that cause our annoying allergy symptoms. Taking a probiotic supplement can help ensure your immune system responds optimally to these inflammatory agents and can help prevent you from developing or worsening your allergies.2
There are also a few things that can aggravate spring allergies, that allergy sufferers should be aware of.
Using the wrong air filter: Using an air filter to keep your home pollen-free is a good idea, but be sure it’s the right kind. Studies show inexpensive central furnace/air conditioning filters and ionic electrostatic room cleaners aren’t helpful and in fact the latter releases ions, which can be an irritant.3 Whole-house filtration systems do work, but change the filters regularly or you could be doing more harm than good.
Opening your windows: When your windows are open, the pollen can drift inside, settle into your carpet, furniture and car upholstery and continue to torture you. So keep your house and car windows shut during allergy season.
Self-medicating: Perhaps you’re not sure exactly what’s making you feel awful so you switch from one medication to the next, hoping for relief. Instead of going down that road, your best bet is to see an allergist, who can determine just what is triggering your symptoms and suggest treatment.
By adding a probiotic to your routine, and keeping cognizant of the things listed above that might aggravate your allergies, you can glide through spring allergy season a bit more easily.