Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Secret to Hack Seasonal Allergies

Avoiding these foods can make allergies virtually disappear
Way to die young #6: Consume these 3 things

It seems to be around this time of year that the sniffing, coughing and itchy eyes take hold of the masses. But, perhaps more annoying is the insufferable complaining. But what you may not know is that airborne allergies do not act alone. These seasonal agitators work in destructive harmony with the things you ingest.

I have suffered from severe seasonal allergies since early childhood. So intense, in fact, that I underwent two surgeries, had weekly shots administered, often stayed home from school, consumed a specialized diet and still have scarification from hive outbreaks. I would suffer 6-month long sinus infections every “allergy season”, which would usually exacerbate into a more serious illness. I then decided to try an elimination diet. I now consider myself immune from allergies. Not even a sniffle.

The top three common agitators of seasonal allergies are grains, dairy and alcohol. By eliminating these three agitators from your diet you can expect great resiliency against seasonal allergies.

Grains: Grains are grass seeds, so if you suffer from grass allergies, it only makes sense that eating a high amount of grains will only worsen your symptoms. But, grains also have a unique ability to induce leaky gut syndrome (or increased intestinal permeability) which makes allergies even worse. Leaky gut syndrome, in short, is where your microvilli (which contain enzymes that help complete digestion) become ineffective and your intestinal walls allow dangerous substances into your bloodsteam and body. These invaders cause inflammation, allergies and other illnesses  The anti-nutrients common in grains such as gluten and lectin do a good job binding to important vitamins and minerals while also damaging or destroying microvilli. Residual yeast in bread products can also contribute to leaky gut syndrome by means of fermentation and the creation of harmful bacteria. It is quite common for people that suffer from hay fever to reduce nearly all symptoms by completely eliminating grains.

Dairy: Lactose in dairy can also harm your microvilli, having the same effect as grains. The added hormones and chemicals in commercially produced dairy can also wreak havoc on your immune system. If you are lactose intolerant your body will have a strong reaction to the dairy and you will flush your body of beneficial bacteria that help fight infection. Milk is also high in casein which is not an easily digested protein. When the digestive system is over indundated with casein it reacts by weakening the immune system because it thinks it is under threat from foreign substances. This combined with the excess casein in your system leads to hyper sensitivity to external allergens. When your immune system is under stress and external allergens are present you are more likely to suffer for a prolonged period.

Alcohol: Alcohol contains histamines which directly trigger allergic outbreaks and agitate existing allergic responses. Some alcohols like wine are much higher in histamines and should be totally avoided if you suffer from seasonal allergies. Alcohol also contains sulfites, which are used as preservatives and have also been known to set off allergic reactions. A 2008 study proved that women who drink wine daily double their chances of having allergy related symptoms. Many grain liquors and beers contain wheat, gluten and other grain ingredients. We already covered how these ingredients can affect allergies. Many alcohols are fermented using bakers yeast. If you are already sensitive to yeast this will only make things worse. Another interesting study found that low to moderate drinking increased levels of Immunoglobulin E (IgE), a molecule involved in allergic diseases.

Other foods that are known to affect seasonal allergies are peanuts, soy, corn, rice, beans, fermented foods, and shellfish varying in personal tolerance levels. Sometimes people suffer allergy outbreaks because their bodies confuse proteins in fruits such as apples, bananas, kiwis, melons, pears and peaches. You can be tested for other individual food allergies to help determine what additional foods you should eliminate. But, for the typical human, eliminating these substances from your diet will take care of the majority of seasonal allergies.

People survived without grains, animal dairy, and alcohol for over a million years and they didn't have antihistamines. They only ate what was readily available to them. That is the same a reason you don't ever see wild animals coughing or sneezing. Only now do we see our carnivorous pets developing allergies with the introduction of grain based feed to their diet. 

It takes discipline to avoid these substances, especially if they are an essential part of your current diet. But, adherence to this elimination diet will improve your energy levels, help you lose weight and most importantly- finally conquer those seasonal allergies.


  1. Could you please go into a little more detail about microvilli? As I understand it these are not enzymes but are cellular membrane protrusions, (fingerlike in their shape) that increase the surface area to allow for greater absorption or secretion.


    Is this where the enzymes would be secreted from? Not trying to play gotcha, just trying to better understand.



  2. No, you're right I made a typo. They only contain the enzymes that aid in these processes. I have corrected this. The link you supplied and the general wiki article give an in-depth explanation. Thanks, Marcos!

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  4. Great artical on food allergies. I was discussing problems with allergies in general to a buddy of mine. He through a suprise my way when commented that dust mites are the 2nd leading cause of allergies behind pollen. He also noted that our beds can contain anywhere from 10k to one million dust mites! Although he is a mattress salesman, a smooth one at that, so maybe he was just tring to scar me into getting into a new bed.

  5. What an extremely helpful article! I have suffered from awful seasonal allergies at least 9 months of the year for the past 7 years, not to mention debilitating allergy attacks that were unpredictable and embarrassing as well as completely frustrating. I can't believe I didn't look into food causes until now. About 3 weeks ago I completely gave up wheat/gluten. The difference is AMAZING but I know I have to continue eliminating trigger foods to be allergy free. It makes so much sense.
    My original plan was to work on eliminating dairy next, but now I am slightly confused/in need of clarification. Should I be eliminating ALL grains from my diet to conquer my allergies? I have been eating rice here and there but I will stop immediately if that is something that could be exasperateing my allergies.
    My quality of life has greatly improved since I cut out the wheat&I'd love for it to continue to do so. Sorry for the long post, I just am hoping for a little guidance and you seem to know your stuff.
    Thanks in advance, Michelle

    1. Hi Michelle! So sorry I didn't see your comment until now. I need to set up notifications. I am very happy that I helped you out! That is the reason's I write these posts.

      So, allergies vary from person to person. I recommend cutting everything that I mentioned out all at once, and try reintroducing one thing at a time. Wheat/gluten is definitely one of the biggest offenders, but I know that rice/corn/soy definitely make things worse for me. Other people, not so much. Depends on your tolerance. Rice is a part of the grass family, so it is not uncommon for people to experience problems with rice that only serve to make their seasonal allergies worse.

      90% of food allergies come from eggs, milk, common nuts, shellfish, fish soy and wheat. So even if you have a small reaction to one of these it can set the stage for your seasonal allergies. I recommend going on a strict vegetable, meat and fruit only diet. And, make a personal decision which foods you can't live without. Create a food diary and document how you feel after eating the foods. You will find patterns with certain foods. Self experimentation is really eye opening!

      You can also go get extensive allergy testing done, which is a huge pain in the butt and involves many needles. But also can let you know if you are allergic to something random like cantaloupe.

      But, for starters I recommended making your next step to be cutting out dairy. This will offer the most dramatic results if it is indeed of your indirect irritants.

      Let me know how everything goes! Good luck!

  6. humm... TO EAT OR NOT TO EAT (fermented) food! that's the question. http://www.healthyfellow.com/1000/fermented-foods-for-allergies/ claims benefits of fermented food for allergies (backed by research done by NIH and JJA) while this site suggests otherwise.

    1. You should be fine in moderation. Introduce a small amount into your diet and see how you react. The big reason I suggest avoiding fermented foods is really for people with low histamine tolerance, and for foods that tend to have residual yeast.