Allergy is widespread and affects approximately a quarter of the population in the UK at some time in their lives.
The term allergy is used to describe a condition where the immune system overreacts to a substance which is not normally harmful in itself. The result can range from a collection of inconvenient symptoms to a disease or even a life threatening reaction.
An allergic person’s immune system believes normally non harmful substances, known as allergens, can be damaging so it produces a special type of antibody (IgE) to attack the invading material. This stimulates other fighting blood cells to release further chemicals such as histamine which together cause the symptoms of an allergic reaction.
The most common symptoms of an allergy are:
- Runny nose
- Itchy eyes, ears, lips, throat and palate
- Severe wheezing
- Shortness of breath
- Sinus problems
- A sore palate
- Mouth ulcers
- Nettle-like rash
- Sickness, vomiting, & diarrhoea
- Increase in secretions
In addition conditions such as asthma, eczema, IBS and headaches as well as symptoms diffuse symptoms such as lethargy, loss of concentration and sensitivity to everyday foods are also considered to have an allergy component.
Allergic reactions are caused by substances in the environment – known as allergens – that a person with an allergy reacts against. This might be something someone has eaten, breathed in or come into skin contact with. Almost anything can be an allergen for someone.
Some of the more common allergens are:
- Pollen from trees and grasses
- House dust mites
- Pets such as cats and dogs
- Insects like wasps and bees
- Industrial and household chemicals
Many factors can contribute to an individual’s allergic potential.
The immune system – This may be on hyper alert or over burdened and a compromised gut flora, the levels of good bacteria that reside in the gut also play a big part in immune balance and allergic reactions.
Leaky gut – Leaky gut syndrome is also known as intestinal permeability. A normal healthy gut lining allows certain molecules to pass across into the bloodstream such as vitamins, minerals and digested foods. It also acts as a barrier to prevent entry of larger damaging molecules. When there is damage to the intestinal lining it can open up slightly and this allows larger particles, such as undigested or partially digested foods and bacteria, to enter into the bloodstream. The immune system is not used to these particles and reacts to them by causing inflammation, irritation and an allergic like reaction. A Leaky Gut Test is a quick and easy way to find out whether this syndrome is a factor in your symptoms. Then, with the help of a nutritional therapist it is possible to heal the gut lining and get you back on the road to recovery.
Early weaning – Weaning babies too early onto foods such as wheat, dairy and eggs can cause damage to the immature gut. This can lead to the development of leaky gut and the possibility of allergies.
Once any allergens have been identified Smart Nutrition can help you to make the necessary diet and lifestyle changes in order to minimise your allergy symptoms and effectively manage your condition.