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Allergies of Spring

By Greg Samples


Originally published in Everything Knoxville in April, 2015

As we welcome the warmer weather of spring and all its glory, millions of Americans prepare themselves for pollen and the allergies that come with it. Thirty-four percent of American born children will develop some form of allergies, a significantly higher rate than the rest of the world, which averages about twenty percent. Allergies have become so common that we seem to just accept them as a fact of life, and try to manage the symptoms as best we can. But if we understood their cause, we just might be able to prevent them, or even reverse them.

If someone sticks a dandelion in your nose, you will sneeze. That is a perfectly normal body reaction. But if you’re still sneezing 24 hours later, that’s an over-reaction, and that’s an allergy. It is an exaggerated immune response to a stimulus. There are two aspects to the immune system. One is the innate aspect, which we are born with, and the other is the acquired aspect, which is developed over time. We can think of allergies as a misconstruction of the acquired immune system. For example, suppose at a young age you consume wheat bread that contains toxic food additives. The immune system responds and learns to attack this toxin now and in the future. However, since the toxin was combined with the flour in the bread, it may at the same time learn to attack the grain whenever it is present as well. The result may be a wheat allergy. Accordingly, choosing organic and natural foods free of toxins can help avoid the type of acquired immunity that results in food allergies.

Exposure to minute amounts of potential allergens, especially at a young age, can assist with creating a well constructed immune system. Local honey has been thought to be an excellent mechanism for this, as bees gather pollen from local plants and therefore provide in one source hundreds of immune building stimulants. If you have already reached adulthood and are saddled with allergies, there are still steps you can take to minimize the resulting discomfort. First, strengthen the immune system by giving it proper nourishment, with a good balance of complex carbohydrates and good quality proteins and fats. Very few things burden the immune system like simple sugar or its artificial substitutes. To minimize the effects of symptoms such as itchy eyes, runny noses, and general congestion, minimize or eliminate dairy and flour products. These foods generate mucus production which can result in congestion, headache, feeling groggy, and fatigue.

So this spring, why not try a healthier lifestyle, shed a few pounds, and turn up the energy. You just may find your allergies have been shed too.

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