SEASONAL ALLERGIES AND LEAKY GUT CONNECTION

Young woman with handkerchief experiencing allergies.

Many people have identifiable allergies that occur during specific seasons. These allergies manifest as runny eyes, sneezing or itchy throats. The typical response when someone has an allergy is to go for allergy medications, get some relief while the season lasts and get ready for another regime of the same allergies as the season returns. While it is easy to think that the allergies you have are connected with the parts of the body involved, it is far-fetched to imagine that your gut has any involvement at all. 

However, strange as this may seem there is a connection. A condition called “leaky gut” is implicated in those who experience seasonal allergies. In this article, you will find out what this connection is and how to utilize it to reduce your chances of having seasonal allergies. 

How Allergies Occur 

Allergies are your body’s response when exposed to unpleasant substances. Usually, your skin, eyes, respiratory tract and digestive tract are lined with a protective layer of tissue. This protection is necessary because these parts of the body are exposed to the outside environment where they often encounter harmful substances. The layer of tissue acts as a physical barrier to such substances. Also, the cells in such tissues are adapted in ways that respond to ward off the offensive stimulus. 

For example, when your upper respiratory tract is exposed to a substance you are allergic to, these cells send signals via nerves to the sneeze centre in your brain. This leads to the sneeze reflex whose aim is to clear the allergen from the tract through the force of air blown out of your nostrils as you sneeze. Sometimes, though, the response is an elaborate process that leads to the release of secretions. 

Whether the response is a sneeze, a dry cough or teary eyes, the essence is often to alert the body to the presence of the unpleasant agent as well as to clear it out. However, the allergic response can be so severe that it becomes the cause of concern rather than the

mere presence of the allergen itself. Allergy medications often work by eliminating or moderating the body’s response to the allergen. 

Leaky Gut and Seasonal Allergies 

Just as mentioned above, the gastrointestinal tract or gut is also lined by a protective layer of tissue. This layer serves to moderate the passage of substances from the gut into the blood. It is important because not all the content of the gut is healthy for the body. For example, there is a well-known community of microbes that line the gut which helps with digestion and prevents harmful microbes from colonizing the gut. Beneficial as this community of microbes is, it can cause infections if its members cross the gut barrier into the host’s bloodstream. 

Leaky gut is a condition where this gut barrier gets inflamed and becomes porous making way for undigested food, bacteria and toxic substances to enter the person’s bloodstream. The moment these enter the bloodstream the body dispatches an attack on them. The inflammation and other responses mounted by the body are what manifest as the symptoms of an allergy. The gut becomes porous when the protective community of microbes is destroyed. This can happen through overzealous antibiotics consumption or the consumption of meat from animals fed with antibiotics, stress, drinking or smoking. 

With repeated exposure of the body to the same allergens, this response becomes ingrained in your immune cells. Subsequently, the same response is produced whether the trigger is from the gut or from the other sites such as the respiratory tract or eyes. In some cases, seasonal allergies can produce symptoms in the digestive system such as acid reflux, nausea, diarrhoea, constipation and stomach cramps without producing any symptoms in the respiratory tract which may be the source of the allergy. 

Also, where the body overreacts to the substances from your gut that leak into the bloodstream, its reaction may go beyond the offending particle. This is what leads to autoimmune diseases in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks some parts of the body. In seasonal allergies that provoke a disproportionate systemic response, what is happening is that the body’s immune system is overreacting to the

presence of a foreign particle like pollen grain or dust. This overreaction occurs because the body’s immune system has been so repeatedly provoked that it has become paranoid, leaving nothing to chance. 

While not many people may be able to link the seasonal allergies they experience to their gut, there is substantial evidence to suggest that leaky gut syndrome is a major culprit in seasonal allergies. Paying attention to your gut will consequently reduce your risk for seasonal allergies. You have to identify the food substance that gives you the allergy, minimize antibiotics consumption and focus on consuming foods rich in fibre, probiotics and prebiotics. These will help restore your gut’s lining and keep off the offending substances. 

References 

Jeremy Schmoe. Got seasonal allergies? Fix your gut! The Functional Neurology Center. Retrieved from https://www.thefnc.com/research/got-seasonal-allergies-fix-gut/ 

Brian Lum. (2020). Can seasonal allergies cause stomach upset? Retrieved from https://www.drbrianlum.com/post/can-seasonal-allergies-cause-stomach-upset 

Nicole Crane. (2014). Are seasonal allergies caused by leaky gut syndrome? Part II Retrieved from https://www.invitehealth.com/ARTICLE-allergies-leaky-gut-syndrome-reveals-part-2. html 

Vincent Pedre. (2018). If your spring allergies are crazy, you might have a gut problem. Here’s how to tell (and how to fix it!) Retrieved from https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/how-to-heal-your-allergies-by-healing-you r-gut

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