Allergies are very annoying. There are many effective drug treatments which, although necessary in acute cases, can lead to numerous side effects.
Every year, about one in four people fight against an allergy, an overreaction by the immune system against a harmless substance (allergen) which is however detected as dangerous. The body begins to produce antibodies which, when they meet allergens, generate chemical mediators (such as histamine) which trigger the allergic reaction. The most-involved tissues are airways, skin, mucous membranes and eyes. Allergies can appear at any time in our life and can be temporary or permanent.
The most common allergens are dust mites, animal derivatives (for example their fur), foods (in particular crustaceans, eggs, milk, nuts), insect poisons, personal hygiene and deterging products and pollen. For most of these allergies, the only prevention method is to avoid exposure to the substance or try to limit it as much as possible. For example, staying away from pets, eliminating foods that give us problems, using hypoallergenic duvets and pillows and using products for the body and home that are as delicate as possible (without parabens, perfumes, preservatives, dyes and synthetic surfactants, nickel). In case of allergy to pollen, it is advisable to avoid, as far as possible, exposure to areas populated with plants that are rich in them.
In the event of severe and acute reactions, drug therapy is essential as it blocks the symptoms and improves the quality of life. However, most allergies tend to become chronic, such as those caused by pollen and mites. In these cases, to avoid the side effects of a continuous intake of decongestant drugs, antihistamines (which can give adverse effects such as dry mouth, drowsiness, dizziness, nausea and vomiting) and corticosteroids (which can alter the glycemic, bone and muscle metabolism, and increase the susceptibility to infections), we can resort to the use of adequate nutrition and natural molecules which can be valuable complements to keep under control and decrease the intensity of annoying symptoms.
Proper nutrition can help modulate the inflammatory response caused by the allergen. “Junk” foods, a diet rich in sugars and unbalanced nutrition increase the basal level of inflammation of the body, triggering a more severe immune reaction when in contact with the allergen. According to a study published by Thorax (a medical journal specializing in research articles on respiratory medicine), the Mediterranean diet determines a decrease in the incidence of respiratory allergies by controlling inflammation.
In addition, “cross-allergies” caused by food must be considered. In fact, some foods contain molecules similar to those found in pollen or dust mites which, once in contact with our immune system, can trigger an allergic reaction. For example, for those allergic to betulaceae, this reaction could be caused by apples, pears, bananas, medlars, peaches, cherries, kiwis, carrots, celery, parsley and dried fruit; for people sensitive to composites, abstention from chicory, parsley, celery, carrot, fennel, dandelion, chamomile and chestnuts could help; finally, in case of allergy to germinaceae, a cross-reaction with celery, barley, oats, corn, rice, rye, tomato, citrus fruits, almonds and peanuts could occur. To avoid the risk of an unbalanced diet, it is important to contact a specialist who will indicate which foods to avoid and in which periods.
The precise reason why people subject to allergic reactions is constantly increasing is not yet fully understood but, according to the latest research, the basis of allergies is an alteration of the functioning of our immune system associated with lifestyle and excessively “sterile” and germ-free homes and outdoor environments rich in pollution. For this reason, it is advisable to adopt preventive strategies aimed at enhancing the efficiency of our immune system. The presence of good bacteria in the intestine leads in fact to a lower incidence of allergies due to their immunomodulating action.