Did you know that adults with allergies have a different gut microbiome than those without allergies? According to findings of a National Institutes of Health study of 1,879 adults, a lack of diversity in the gut microbiota was associated with all types of allergies, especially seasonal and/or nut allergies. At AAPRI, we talk a lot about the important connection between allergies and gut health. Why? Because maintaining a healthy balance and a high diversity of microorganisms in your digestive tract is the first step toward effective and lasting allergy relief.
What is the gut microbiome?
Your body naturally is home to trillions of microbes—bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microscopic living things. These micro-organisms collectively make up what is known as your microbiome. Most of these microbes live inside your intestines (your gut microbiome) and on your skin. There are up to 1,000 species of bacteria in the human gut microbiome, each playing a different and important role in your body. While the idea of trillions of micro-organisms living in your body may not sound particularly appealing, the majority of these microbes are not only beneficial to your health, they are essential.
How does the gut microbiome affect your body?
The truth is that it would be very difficult to survive without the gut microbiome. From the moment you pass through your mother’s birth canal and as you grow up, the gut microbiome proliferates into many different types of microbial species. In fact, the greater the diversity of your gut microbiome, the better it is for your health.
The gut microbiome affects your body in a number of ways, including the ability to digest certain sugars and fiber, as well as controlling how your immune system works. By communicating with your immune cells, the gut microbiome affects how your body responds to infection, allergens, and more.
What exactly is an allergy?
An allergy is an immune system response to a foreign substance that’s not typically harmful to your body, such as certain foods, pollen, or even pet dander. Your immune system’s job is to keep you healthy, which it does by attacking anything it thinks could be harmful. Allergies occur when your immune system mistakenly attacks something it perceives to be a threat, but what is actually not. This immune response results in inflammatory diseases that are modulated by the gut microbiome. What we are exposed to via our diet, medications such as antibiotics, and environmental toxins can all have a devastating effect on the gut microbiome, resulting in allergy symptoms or other serious health conditions.
How can I support better gut health?
Your gut microbiome is as unique as you are. According to Dr. Z, the importance of maintaining a healthy gut microbiome cannot be overstated. Diet is a key to good health by keeping the body in balance and to help prevent the onset of allergies. As Dr. Z explains, “What you eat determines what nutrients you absorb, and that’s what creates your own unique microbiome, which affects many aspects of your health—including allergies.” Here are Dr. Z’s quick tips to support a healthy gut microbiome:
- Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables
- Drink plenty of water, aiming for half your weight in ounces per day
- Reduce the amount of refined sugar in your diet
- Avoid eating processed foods and preservatives
- Buy organic as much as possible to avoid foods grown using pesticides
- Be sure you’re getting enough fiber
- Take antibiotics only when absolutely necessary
- Read food labels so you know what you’re putting in your body
What does Dr. Z mean by “treat the cause, defeat the symptoms”?
Treating allergy symptoms without addressing the cause is like pulling up a weed by the stem and leaving the root behind. Here at AAPRI and the Center for Functional Medicine, we take a holistic approach to your health, treating the whole patient to provide integrated solutions for better health. Our team is committed to helping you pull up the weed by the root so that it doesn’t come back. To learn more, contact us to schedule a consultation today.