Diets For Allergies And The Immune System

Immunity Allergy Diet

We offer a Nutritional Therapy Service specialising in supporting allergies and immune system issues with a scientific approach to diet throughout Oxfordshire.

Low Immunity

Ouch

The immune system is a fantastic thing. We walk into a lamppost, split our forehead and within seconds we have white blood cells rushing to the site to menace and kill any germs that might want to take advantage. We’ll look like a hopeless case but we’ll be a well and fit helpless case.

Our white blood cells manage to do this by producing protein antibody’s called immunoglobulins, the ones used to rescue our face are known as IgM immunoglobulins.

There are others too IgG, igA and IgE among them, which help to fight off parasites, toxins, bacteria and viruses. When our immune system isn’t functioning properly and immunoglobulin levels drop we become susceptible to these invaders.

Immunity From Lampposts

The immune system can be affected by factors such as long term stress, self-induced toxins such as medication and smoking, and a poor diet. The immune system also weakens with age so we owe it to ourselves to ensure that we exercise regularly, avoid smoking and alcohol and eat a diet rich in nutrients as we get older.

There have been many studies on specific nutrients such as Vitamin D, Vitamin A and selenium and their isolated effects on immunity. And, without a doubt, they all have a beneficial affect. However they don’t work in isolation, they need to be present in a diet rich in vegetables, whole grains and decent protein. Without the correct nutrients in place no part of our body works effectively and we need our first line of defence to be working 100% so that the lamppost inducing bruise and cut remain just as a mildly embarrassing inflammation and nothing worse.

Autoimmunity

Mistaken Identity

Sometimes, unfortunately, our antibodies mistake our own tissues as invaders and start to attack our normal physiology. This can be the case with Hashimoto’s or Grave’s disease when the thyroid gland comes under attack, or Addison’s Disease when the pancreas is the target.

It’s not always clear why the immune system begins to work incorrectly but there are studies which link autoimmune issues with an originating viral attack, one which was never suitably dealt with in the first instance. For example the Epstein Barr Virus can remain in our systems for a long time and is linked with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome / Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (CFS / ME). Addison’s disease too is thought to sometimes originate from a fungal infection.

Consequently a nutritional approach to autoimmune conditions may start with an anti-microbial program to try and eliminate any viruses, bacteria or pathogens. This could contain supplements such as oregano or cinnamon bark and laboratory tests which may pinpoint an originating invader. The liver would need additional nutritional support as this process is gone through to help it metabolise the (hopefully) dying contagion. Some autoimmune conditions such as CFS/ME come with a heightened response to any dietary change so improvement may need to be incremental and slow.

Exclusion Diets

Another possible cause of some autoimmune issues such as Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) are lectins, a protein found in some plants such as wheat, potatoes or beans.

Most of us are fine with lectins and cope with them fine, however some micro-organisms such as influenza can make us susceptible and trigger a cascade of responses resulting in auto-immunity. For some RA sufferers trying a wheat-free diet may bring relief and exclusion diets may also help other auto-immune conditions.

However professional advice should be sought to manage the exclusion and re-introduction process to ensure that vital nutrition isn’t omitted in the process.

Allergies

There are so many allergies that for any given molecule presumably, someone, somewhere has an allergy to it. We can sometimes outgrow allergies and sometimes not (as the condition Eosinophilic Esophagitis EoE would show). We can have allergies to whole groups of items such as the Rosaceae family of fruits which includes strawberries, apricots, peach, pear and plums or we can be allergic to just one member.

What’s Your Poison?

We can sometimes think we’re allergic to a particular food item such as milk when actually we’re only allergic to one part of it such as the casein protein. The allergen doesn’t even have to be food, just something small enough to be inhaled or absorbed such as animal dander, mould spores, medication or chemicals in toiletries.

Nutritional therapy can’t always help to resolve an allergy but it can help the immune system to cope with the reaction. This often means supporting the gut, an integral part of the immune system where much of the immunoglobulin IgA is synthesised. A diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods can also help to calm down skin reactions. Support can also be provided in looking for alternatives to the allergenic food so that vital nutrients don’t get excluded from the diet.

When An Allergy Isn't An Allergy

Sometimes a histamine reaction may also mimic an allergic reaction (rash, wheezing for example) and the nutritional protocol would look to support the gut to reduce histamine production and to minimise histamine rich foods.

Similarly many food intolerances start with poor gut health, in these situation the food itself isn’t necessarily the culprit, just a signifier of the underlying problem. Many situations such as stress, anti-biotics or poor diet can cause the body to negatively react to certain foods.

Within a few weeks I really noticed a difference, I’m sleeping

better than I have in a long time. Saffron took the time to understand

my lifestyle and habits and then made recommendations and

adjustments that were easy to build into my everyday life.

Dawn Lillington

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