Allergic Disease, also called Atopic Disease, is a term used for any one of several allergic diseases that all share one thing in common, an inappropriate and hyperactive immune system response to common substances.
are the most common of these illnesses and usually show up beginning in childhood. Western Medicine considers them allergic ‘diseases’ that you can never ‘cure’, but only ‘manage’ symptoms for the rest of your life. This theory says that allergic disease is genetic and the only way to manage these are to avoid the allergen(s) that cause them for the rest of your life (if you can figure out exactly what those are) by using HEPA filters, dust mite free linens and mattresses, avoiding pets etc.
Oh, and you'll also need to take drugs forever to avoid flare-ups.
What if you could choose a different way of looking at allergic diseaseand atopic disease?
People who have atopic diseases tend to say that their disease is genetic. While this is partly true, diseases are only INFLUENCED by genetics, The environment controls the outcome of how those genetics are expressed.
You may have a PREDISPOSITION to have these allergic diseases, but that does not mean that everyone who has the genes gets the disease. In fact, much recent research has been focusing on substances called nuclear receptors. These receptors attach to specific areas on DNA strands and act as messengers that tell the genes what is going on in the body. When specific deficiencies of enzymes or nutrients are present then the genes will 'turn on' other genes in response to the 'problem'.
The genes that get turned on can cause various things to happen in the body: inflammation and increased hormonal activity are examples of what can happen depending upon the situation. If you begin to understand this way of thinking, allergic diseases become SYMPTOMS of imbalance in the body and not a disease in and of themselves. When you have flare-ups, it is the body’s way of informing you that you have imbalance from overload of Environmental Toxins or improper nutrition for your genetics.
This allows you to have control over whether you experience symptoms or not. Allergy relief drugs become a way to get temporary allergy symptom relief when you are miserable, but they are NOT a lifelong commitment.
Another realm of debate about allergic disease are the allergy triggers that cause flare-ups. While it’s true that certain triggers make your atopic disease symptoms worse; animal dander, pollen, dust mites, etc. It is not these allergy triggers per se that cause your seasonal allergy symptoms, it is toxic buildup in general.
Children who grow up in contact with a high environmental toxin load such as mining waste products, and adults who are regularly exposed to cleaning chemicals or pesticides have higher incidences of atopic diseases. This can be explained by the Barrel Theory of allergic diseases. It describes the body as a rain barrel that takes in environmental toxins, processes them and excretes them. Every time you take in environmental toxins like:
the barrel begins processing. If more environmental toxins go in before the previous toxic chemicals are excreted, then the barrel begins to fill up. The barrel can only fill up so much before it overflows. When this overflow occurs, we reach our threshold of tolerance and feel symptoms of asthma, environmental allergies and atopic dermatitis.
This explains why people don’t always have symptoms consistent with specific allergy triggers and why some people have a difficult time finding their allergy triggers. This also explains why developed nations, who have more environmental toxins, have more atopic disease than undeveloped nations.
Studies show that children who grow up on farms have several siblings or who go to day care have fewer allergic diseases. According to the ‘Hygiene Hypothesis’ ( explained here ), children who have fought off many pathogens have Immune Systems that are more experienced and tend not to overreact to common allergy triggers like pollen or pet dander as children who have atopic disease do.
Children whose mothers took probiotic 'good bacteria' supplements while pregnant, as well as children who took probiotics themselves have fewer atopic diseases. At first glance this doesn’t seem to make sense.
What do Good Bacteria in the gut have to do with Treating Eczema, seasonal allergies, asthma and atopic dermatitis? But when you dig deeper, it makes perfect sense. The digestive system is the home of up to 80% of immune system functioning and the microbiome that lives in our gut is the modulator of much of this immune activity.
We have from 3 to 6 pounds of bacteria that are an integral part of our health. These probiotics perform so many functions, including even the creation of Vitamin B12, Omega 3 Fatty Acids, and nitric oxide that some scientists call the microbiome ‘the hidden organ’. There is even a microbiome in the mouth that performs critical functions that are destroyed when we use Antibacterial Mouthwash!
The foods that we eat in developed countries do not support the healthy maintenance of these life giving good bacteria. Sugar feeds the competing yeasts, antibiotics from meats kill them off and low amounts of nutrients starve them. Good bacteria colonizing our guts explains the Benefits of Sauerkraut that you can also get in Probiotic Supplements, Yogurt, and other foods like Kombucha tea.
In single supplement Asthma Nutrition studies with selenium, B6, and molybdenum; each supplement itself showed improvement in asthma symptoms. Other studies have shown that increasing vegetables in the diet seems to reduce asthma symptoms, probably from the creation of the vasodilating substance nitric oxide that occurs in the microbes of the mouth after eating leafy greens and beets.
Proper vitamins and minerals are imperative to the health of the immune system. A deficiency in any vitamin can certainly impair the immune system and even 'turn on' the genes that lead to allergic disease. Even the Side Effects of Omeprazole and other antacids, or using over the counter drugs like Antibacterial Mouthwash can have serious detrimental effects on the immune system that can lead to allergic disease or Food Allergies.
But the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) of nutrients was designed only to prevent deficiency diseases and not necessarily supply optimal health. Supplementation with specific nutrients that supply optimal health for YOU to improve your illness is important.
Some experimentation with what works for you may be in order. For example, there are some studies that show Vitamin E or Vitamin C was effective in helping to reduce asthma symptoms, but other studies showed that it was not.
Fish intake and fish oil supplementation is correlated with decreased asthma symptoms. This may be because these oils have been shown to have significant anti-inflammatory properties, one of the major problems with allergic disease.
In the US, we are severely deficient in Essential Fatty Acids. We are warned to avoid fats because they will make us fat, and that the Dangers of Saturated Fat will give us high cholesterol and hardened arteries. Therefore most of our dietary fats have been replaced with processed trans fats and Polyunsaturated Oil that are unnatural for our bodies but that have long shelf lives.
We are designed to have a generous amount of fatty acids in our diets. In fact each and every cell membrane in our body is made of fatty acids. They are called 'Essential Fatty Acids' for a reason. So it’s no wonder that supplementation with these fats can help to improve symptoms of many different problems.
Studies on many vitamins and nutrients, like Vitamin C and Vitamin E, are suggestive but inconclusive that these nutrients are beneficial for atopic diseases. But studies are generally done in a ‘vacuum’ of the perfect patients under the perfect situation. Most often they don't study a combination of nutrients, they don't adjust doses for individual needs and they definitely did not study how YOU will react in those same situations.
So, a combination of:
is a good place to START. Just remember that these are not ‘magic bullets’ that provide relief overnight, it may take weeks or even months to see improvement. Atopic disease didn't occur overnight, it took time to develop, so be patient and persistent and you CAN get better. One nutrient that you should NEVER be without, however, is Vitamin D. Keep reading to find out why....
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