December 02, 2013

Paleo helps decrease allergic reactions

Sniffle in the spring? Avoid hay rides? Never stop to literally smell the roses? Allergies suck, but most people who adopt a Paleo approach are surprised to find that when they threw their Neolithic foods in the garbage, they also threw away the worst of their allergy symptoms.

An allergic reaction is when the body gets paranoid. An immune system believes that something innocuous, like pollen, animal dander, or certain foods are dangerous in the same way germs and viruses are dangerous. As a result, the immune system treats these particles like invaders, and tries to deal with them like it would actual dangerous things: by freaking out and inflaming. Inflammation is sneezing, runny nose, upset stomach, swelling, coughing, etc.

It’s not all bad, because the body’s’ ability to inflame is what keeps it protected from actual bio-villains. The bad is when it overreacts to things that are objectively harmless. The worst iteration is anaphylaxis, where the body is so freaked out by what it thinks is invading it that it essentially shuts down.

Calming Down On Paleo

A large part of the solution is removing foods that promote inflammation. Namely, gluten-containing foods and dairy products. Gluten inflames the gut lining, which in turn becomes hypersensitive to possible invaders.

The immune system, therefore, can react to pollens and other allergy-inducing agents by panicking. And panic is not sexy. Many people find that eliminating these foods allows their body to “reset,” and find a new and better normal. When low-level systemic inflammation is curbed by eating an anti-inflammatory Paleo-type diet, allergies tend to disappear.

People stop eating grains and dairy (and increase their intake of nutrient-dense foods), allow their gut linings and immune systems to heal, and their gut linings and immune systems then respond with more poise to environmental irritants.

Additional Hacks to Banish Allergies

So what if you already eat a clean Paleo diet devoid of inflammatory foods, but still suffer from the occasional sniffle when springtime rolls around? Do these things:

  • Avoid alcohol, specifically red and white wines, which tend to stimulate the release of histamine more than almost any other food.
  • Drink green or white tea, which boosts immune function and contains large amounts of anti-inflammatory flavanoids.
  • Eat wild local honey, which contains vaccine-like doses of wild local flowers that may inoculate you to the pollens you encounter.
  • Eat fatty fish, ginger, and other anti-inflammatory foods that keep any lingering systemic inflammation down so your body doesn’t freak out

In A Nutshell…

Don’t eat inflammatory foods so you can let your body calm down, and it will probably take care of you. We’re optimizing our bodies and lives with this diet and lifestyle, and our bodies are extremely good at adapting if we give them some room to breathe.

Paleo may not make everything allergy-related perfect (though it has for some people), but it will almost certainly help. Not too many difficult steps, but dealing with allergies can be a real pain in the neck/nose/ear/butt. What do you do to deal? Have you noticed an improvement in symptoms since modifying your diet in some way?


Nik Hawks

Author

Nik Hawks helps run the show at Paleo Treats. Fascinated by humans in all their strange glory, Nik is harnessed in and pulling hard in pursuit of excellence with the rest of the PT Crew. Enjoy!


Too much reading...
How about dessert?

Too Much Reading...How About Dessert?

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