Can a healthy gut help regulate your allergic responses?

Allergy season is here again. Airborne pollen is the most common cause of seasonal allergies, according to Montreal naturopath Frances Michaelson. She believes healthy gut bacteria is a huge factor when it comes to allergic reactions.

What are healthy bacteria? Also called “intestinal flora” or “probiotics,” the body has a balance of healthy bacteria in the gut that helps to digest the food you eat, absorb and manufacture nutrients. One of the most important functions of intestinal flora is to ensure a healthy immune system, which regulates your allergic responses, fight off disease and infection.

Michaelson suggests one of the major steps you can take to balance your gut health is to eat a healthy, balanced diet and reduce processed foods, which supply few nutrients and can make a significant difference in your immune system and its response to disease, including allergies.

Numerous over-the-counter remedies for allergies merely provide temporary relief, says Michaelson, who adds that treating the symptoms won’t address the root cause of the problem.

“Educate, not medicate,” she stresses. Michaelson prefers to address allergies by first looking at diet and lifestyle. She offers a few other tips to help alleviate allergies:

  • Eat more dark, leafy greens. They all have immune-enhancing properties. And eat more plant food overall as their fibre contributes to a healthy intestinal flora.
  • Foods that increase inflammation and poor gut health should be avoided. These include processed foods such as refined sugars and other highly refined carbohydrates.