Spring Season – Allergy Season
Spring is pollen and allergy season. People who suffer from a pollen allergy feel it immediately: If the wind carries the pollen from grasses and trees through the air, the nose can start running and the eyes start itching terribly. But atypical symptoms, such as coughing, eczema, gastrointestinal problems or frequent infections can also be the result of an allergy.
Allergies, of any kind, are widespread and increasing every year. The most common form of allergy is hay fever, which affects 20 percent of people who suffer from a pollen allergy. According to statistics, over 50 percent of pollen allergy sufferers are also allergic to foods.
There are various theories about the origin of allergies, but no fully established findings. Most allergies are based on a combination of different causes. According to experts, in addition to genetic predisposition, the main causes are: changes in dietary behavior, extreme environmental pollution and poorly ventilated rooms.
Scientific studies have shown, for example, that pollen originating from trees located along roadsides and exposed to high levels of air pollution are more aggressive in their allergen composition than pollen from trees away from exhaust fumes and industry. However, there are fewer and fewer natural habitats; many people now live in urban areas and are constantly exposed to stresses that strain the immune system and promote allergies.
Furthermore, the immune system is additionally overstrained by today’s nutrition. Processed foods are making up a larger portion of our diets, but they are often filled with preservatives, artificial colors and flavors. These are a challenge for the metabolism in the long term and also weaken the immune system, as they attack the intestine, which is home to 70% of immune cells.
At the same time, scientists see another reason for the increased occurrence of allergies because of an overuse of cleaning products and sanitiizers. This also makes the immune system weaker and weaker, because it is not trained and challenged. The immune system can train itself on microbes and learns to distinguish which microbes actually have to be fought and which can be tolerated. The more diverse the “offer” of environmental microorganisms is, the more challenges and training material the defense cells get. The environmental germs that are so frowned can actually help develop your immune system. We know this phenomenon from children who grow up in the countryside or even on a farm. When they play, they come into contact with more dirt than urban children. According to research, in adult age they show allergies far less often than the children who were growing up in the city.
Allergy or intolerance
Allergies are clearly medically distinguished from food intolerances, such as lactose, fructose or histamine intolerance. Although the symptoms are similar, the underlying mechanisms differ significantly in the diseases.
There are 4 types of excessive immune reactions. The most common in foods is the IgE-mediated type I or immediate reaction.
In the case of an allergy, the immune system reacts to harmless proteins by producing IgE antibodies. This inflammatory immune response is similar to making viruses or bacteria harmless. Only when it becomes noticeable through disease symptoms does one speak of an allergy. Allergic symptoms usually do not occur immediately upon first contact with the allergen, but only after repeated contact. The mast cells, which are mainly located in the tissue with a strong blood supply, burst and release inflammatory mediators such as histamine. As a result, typical symptoms occur, such as inflammations or itching, but also watery eyes, allergic asthma, and even anaphylactic shock.
About 40 to 50 percent of all sufferers with birch pollen allergy also react with allergic symptoms to apple, pear, cherry (Rosaceae), celery (Apiaceae), potato, tomato (Betulaceae) and exotic fruits, for example. Protein molecule structures (epitopes) of an antigen are responsible for this, which can trigger a specific immune response. In recent years, significant insights into these molecular structures have been gained through new molecular biological methods.
Some of the allergenic proteins are heat sensitive, i.e. at temperatures above 60°C the protein structure is destroyed in such a way that it is no longer recognized as allergenic. This is the case, for example, with apple protein: While raw apples can trigger discomfort in pollen allergy sufferers, cooked apples are often well tolerated. But there are also heat-stable proteins, such as celery allergens, which means that even cooked celery can cause problems for allergy sufferers.
Among the numerous proteins that we eat every day, there are comparatively few that also have the potential to cause allergic symptoms. How allergenic a protein actually is, is influenced by various factors, e.g. the solubility, the content in the food or the degree of processing.
Food allergies and medications
In the digestion of proteins, the pH value of the stomach plays a particularly important role. In vitro digestion experiments have clearly shown that milk and fish proteins, for example, lose their allergenic potential after a short time at a pH value of 2. However, if the pH value is increased to 3 to 5, the proteins remain undigested for much longer and retain their allergenic potential. These experimental results are particularly interesting for people who frequently take antacids, because antacids neutralize gastric acids and the pH value of the stomach can change. It was also found that patients treated with H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors for gastritis or gastric ulcers for more than three months
developed IgE antibodies against foods such as peanut, walnut, potato, carrot or celery.
Reducing allergenic potential
The allergenic potential of foods can already be reduced, for example, by washing, peeling or removing certain components. But allergens can also be reduced by heating or fermenting. However, this does not apply to all foods. In addition to celery, among others mangoes, peanuts and more recent apple varieties are also resistant to these measures.
“Hidden allergens”, which are often deliberately or unknowingly added to processed foods, are also particularly problematic. Certainly, there is a mandatory allergen labeling for food, which, however, is often not really helpful for those affected, as food manufacturers elegantly shun their responsibility with sentences such as “May contain traces of……..”.
Metabolic Balance and dealing with allergies
In nutrition according to the Metabolic Balance method, the quality of foods has always been in the forefront. Only fresh, high-quality foods are to be found on the food list – processed foods should be avoided. Metabolic Balance believes that any addition of food additives can upset the delicate balance of the body’s internal chemistry, which can have a wide variety of effects – from weight gain to an increased risk of diseases related to the hormonal and immune system.
Furthermore, at Metabolic Balance we avoid primary allergens, also called major allergens, such as cow’s milk and wheat products in any plans where any kind of allergy was indicated. Cow’s milk, for example, contains twenty proteins, five of which can trigger allergic reactions. By avoiding the main allergen carriers, some secondary allergies (e.g. nut allergy, apple allergy, house dust allergy, etc.) are alleviated and may also improve significantly during the metabolic change. General recommendations, such as heating allergen-triggering foods, are included in Metabolic Balance, as is the avoidance of the accumulation effect. That means that food groups are largely not mixed. For example, individual types of fruit are usually well tolerated by allergy sufferers, but several types of fruit, as mixed in a fruit salad, are not!
With nutrition according to Metabolic Balance and the balancing of the metabolism, it may well be possible to reduce medication and this can also have a beneficial effect on existing allergies.