Sneezing, itchy eyes, and runny nose are common symptoms that seasonal allergy sufferers experience this time of year.
Since there is no cure for allergies, most healthcare professionals recommend avoiding known allergens to reduce symptoms. The problem is that it’s almost impossible to avoid tree, grass and ragweed pollen.
Pollen is virtually everywhere.
The type of pollen that causes symptoms varies by season:
- tree pollen is more common in the Spring
- grass pollen is more common in the Summer
- weed pollen is more common in the Fall
Allergy symptoms can quickly take the fun out of summer. While over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants can be effective at treating allergy symptoms, unfortunately they don’t support a healthy immune system.
Did you know that 70% of your immune system is in your gut and an unhealthy gut may worsen allergy symptoms?
The gut is home to trillions of microorganisms which help support a healthy immune system. When the delicate balance of these organisms is compromised – due to poor diet, infections, certain medications, and stress – the immune system may have an abnormal reaction to otherwise harmless substances such as pollen.
We now understand that there’s a connection between gut microbiota and allergies. In fact, people with allergies have been found to have a different gut microbiome compared to those without allergies. An evaluation of fecal microbiota showed that allergy sufferers had lower diversity and fewer bacterial species.1
We need more diversity in the gut to prevent allergies.
Perhaps it’s hard to comprehend that seasonal allergy symptoms like sneezing, itchy eyes, and a runny nose may be caused by an unhealthy gut microbiome. After all, hay fever (allergic rhinitis) is a hypersensitivity reaction to allergens found in the air, not in the gut.
Although it seems unusual that a healthy gut may boot out allergy symptoms, Canadians are intrigued.
Many allergy sufferers are now adding probiotic-rich foods like sauerkraut and kimchi to their diet. They are also turning to probiotic supplements since hypersensitivity reactions and allergic diseases are more likely to occur when there are not enough protective bacteria in the gut.
While many people are just learning about probiotics now, the health benefits of probiotics have been well known since the late 19th century.
Data shows that supplementing with probiotics modulates immune responses in allergic rhinitis patients.2
When shopping for a probiotic, look for one that has multiple strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. A review on probiotic use in allergic rhinitis patients showed that “probiotics (Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium) appear to prevent allergy recurrences, alleviate the severity of symptoms and improve the quality of life of patients with allergic rhinitis.”3
A high-potency probiotic (e.g. 80 Billion live active bacteria) will deliver more bacteria per capsule to the intestines.
Since this gut-friendly supplement is well tolerated and is easy to find where natural health products are sold, why not try a different approach this allergy season? Apparently, these friendly bacteria may even make your environment friendlier.
Renew Life Ultimate Flora Colon Care 80 Billion
A potent daily multi-strain probiotic blend that provides 80 billion live bacterial cultures in a convenient ‘once a day’ capsule. Contains 10 different strains of live bacteria, with a combination of both Lactobacillus (32 billion active cultures) and Bifidobacterium (48 billion active cultures) strains to help support intestinal and gastrointestinal health.
By Dr. Sara Celik, ND
- Xing H et al. Allergy associations with the adult fecal microbiota: Analysis of the American Gut Project. The Lancet. Jan 2016;3:172-179.
- Yang G et al. Treatment of Allergic Rhinitis with Probiotics: An Alternative Approach. North American Journal of Medical Sciences. Aug 2013;5(8):465-468.
- Noqueira JC et al. Probiotics in allergic rhinitis. Brazilian Journal of Otorhinolaryngology. 2011;77(1):129-34.