Hay fever, stuffy or runny nose, foggy head, itchy throat, does that speak to you? While everyone is looking forward to the arrival of spring, is it anxiety for you? What if these allergies were related to your digestive system? Follow the guide, we tell you everything.
Allergies and your digestive system
Our whole body is covered with microbes, those famous little beasts we've been talking about for more than a century. Banned from society, microbes have become non grata with us. And yet… far from causing damage they are very useful to us. Without them, for example, we would react to all the allergens present in the air and in food.
Allergies develop rapidly and what was rare thirty years ago, such as peanut intolerance or prolonged hay fever, has become commonplace and widespread.
This SIHO article aims to explain the links between allergies and the digestive system. And like any problem with its solutions, we will study what you can do to stop suffering from it!
The hygienist hypothesis
For a few years we have been hearing about the microbiota, this bacterial flora that populates our tissues and organs. In the 1980s the following hypothesis emerged: our insistence on cleanliness, the fact of not being exposed to germs would be more harmful than anything else. Indeed, the body needs to be stimulated in order to develop good immunity. Without regular, gentle stimulation, we can say hello to viral illnesses and allergies of all stripes.
It has been proven by several studies that people who have pets are less likely to develop allergies. Children raised on farms or those consuming raw unpasteurized milk as well. Other factors influence our microbiota and thus our risk of allergic diseases. Antibiotics, cesarean births or not having been breastfed are associated with increased susceptibility to asthma and allergies.
It has recently been shown that children with allergies have more bad bacteria (staphylococcus, clostridium and escherichia) and less good ones (lactobacillus and bifidobacteria) than healthy children. All of these studies suggest that the more we are exposed to a wide range of microbes at the dawn of our life, the more our immune system will be effective. Indeed, he will learn which bacteria are dangerous and which are beneficial.
Food allergies and your gut
Remember: in the 1970s and 80s knowing someone who suffered from an intolerance was relatively rare. Now do the count: how many do you know?
Maybe it's a "fashion" effect (but believe me, people suffering from intolerances are not proud of it because they too want to be "like everyone else" and not the pain in the ass who imposes on others its difference), perhaps we are better informed than before? Perhaps also that our intestine is more and more abused, while it is in the latter that sit 80% of the immune cells of our body.
Our gut is normally tight. That is to say that apart from the nutrients that the body needs nothing must pass through. Every day, this barrier between our intestine and blood circulation is put to the test, because of stress, food, the air we breathe or even waves. When the intestine becomes porous (this is called leaky gut or leaky gut) food proteins can enter the blood and thus stimulate an immune response. Hence the development of allergic type symptoms.
Our food is in the front line to defend us or on the contrary to attack us. Studies have shown that an intestinal flora disturbed by taking antibiotics or a diet low in fiber causes this permeability. In the second case, it has been shown that certain friendly bacteria, in order not to starve, can even come and eat your mucus, this famous intestinal barrier.
What is histamine?
Histamine, I'm sure that word means something to you. Search well. You will find it in a well-known medicine during pollen time. And yes, you found it: you know histamine from antihistamines.
Histamine is extremely important, naturally present in our body. It is a neurotransmitter that notably regulates the production of gastric acid or the permeability of the blood-brain barrier. It is also an essential component of the immune response. Understand by this that it plays a key role in allergic reactions.
While histamine is naturally present in our body, some people suffer from “histamine intolerance” (specifically mast cell activation syndrome or, more problematically, mastocytosis) where the body produces excess histamine, where histamine is unstable or who has a deficiency in diamine oxidase (DAO), the enzyme responsible for degrading histamine.
Many microbes produce histidine decarboxylase, which converts histidine (found in many foods, including meat) into histamine. The more these microbes there are, the greater the conversion of histidine into histamine. It will then be absorbed by the intestine and then circulate in many parts of the body (intestinal of course, but also the lungs, nose, brain, skin), which will exacerbate the allergic symptoms.
Some people have an unbalanced flora, with an overpopulation of lactobacillus (they are found in quantity in the vast majority of probiotics). If they are normally beneficial for health, they produce a lot of histamine. So for people with SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth, where too much intestinal flora is found in the small intestine).
In order to solve an allergy problem in the long term, restoring a balance of your flora must be THE priority.
Steps to Improve Allergy Problems (and Potentially Eliminate Them)
- Eat plenty of fiber
As we have seen in our articles on fibers and prebiotics, it is above all essential to add fermentable fibers to your diet. Indeed, they will produce short chain fatty acids (acetate, propionate, butyrate) which regulate the immune system. Butyrate, for example, reduces intestinal permeability and lowers the immune response. For its part, propionate reduces allergic diseases of the respiratory tract.
I've gut the power is high in fiber and resistant starches. It is therefore a great help for allergies.
- Avoid inflammatory foods
Every person is sensitive to certain foods. The most common are cereals containing gluten, lactose and eggs. Peanuts are also known to be powerful allergens. The nightshade family (eggplants, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, goji) is less known but nevertheless very widespread. We invite you to test potential intolerances, under the supervision of a competent therapist!
- Try a diet low in histamine
Foods rich in histamine or causing disorders with histamine are very diverse. This is the case with spinach, all fermented foods (mature cheese, wine, beer, chocolate), citrus fruits, charcuterie, matured meat and fish that are not completely fresh.
- Take a test for SIBO
Sibo is very common but clearly underdiagnosed. Take the test!
- Take probiotics but not just any
As we have seen, certain strains produce a lot of histamine. Prefer bifidobacteria as well as lactobacillus plantarum.
Seasonal allergies are not to be taken lightly. It is essential to support your immune system in order to reduce their consequences on your health and well-being. If you suffer from seasonal allergies, remember the role your gut plays in supporting immune responses and take good care of your indoor garden.