Are Bacteria Making Your Allergy Symptoms Worse? New Research Sheds Light

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Could a single bacterium be exacerbating your allergy symptoms? According to a recent study in the journal Nature Microbiology, hay fever sufferers have excessive amounts of Streptococcus salivarius in their noses, and this may be intensifying the condition for many sufferers. 

Everyone has some Streptococcus salivarius in their noses — this is normal. But if you struggle with allergy issues like congestion, excess mucus, sneezing, itchy eyes, and more, you might have too much of this strain in your nose. And the study authors believe this increases inflammation, thereby worsening symptoms. 

The research team discovered that allergy sufferers have less diversity in their nasal microbiomes and more Streptococcus salivarius — having a mix of healthy microbes is key for microbiome balance. 

Hay fever is triggered by allergens such as mold, pollen, and ragweed that provoke an inflammatory response in nasal passages. And as it turns out, Streptococcus salivarius has an affinity for locking on to mucus-coated cells, which ramps up inflammation.  

Stop Suffering from Allergies — Learn How to Resolve the Problem

Seasonal allergies are caused by an abnormal production of histamine and other substances. The body produces histamine in reaction to ragweed and other problematic pollens that enter the respiratory system. Histamine increases the permeability of blood vessels near the allergic site, causing swelling. And it also has an indirect inflammatory effect.  

Increasing stress levels, environmental toxins, and harmful food additives have all contributed to rising rates of allergies and asthma. Addressing these issues is important — not just for alleviating allergies, but also for helping prevent life-threatening conditions like heart disease, cancer, and dementia.  

Speaking of stress: Anxiety generates inflammatory hormones, but there are ways to alleviate this. Meditation, for example, is an ancient discipline that calms both mind and body. Numerous studies have shown the practice can dramatically influence the brain, putting our fight-or-flight reflex at bay and reducing inflammation. Exercise can also help. Simply taking a brisk 30 minute walk each day can do wonders for stress control, inflammation, and overall health.

Leaky Gut’s Role in Allergies

The gastrointestinal tract is our first line of defense against pathogens and other foreign invaders, and many immune cells and friendly bacteria reside there, constantly fighting off harmful invaders.

Unfortunately, some people suffer from chronic, inflammatory conditions that make the gut more porous, termed “leaky gut syndrome.” As a result, undigested food, bacteria, and other foreign particles enter the circulation. The immune system attacks and releases histamine, the “repair chemical.” Histamine triggers swelling and inflammation and at elevated levels, causes allergy symptoms.

Leaky gut syndrome has been linked in many cases to seasonal allergies, as well as to specific food sensitivities. When patients with seasonal allergies reduce inflammation in the gut through the elimination of pro-inflammatory foods (i.e., gluten, dairy, sugar, refined fats) and the addition of anti-inflammatory foods and nutrients, allergy symptoms are often reduced or reversed altogether.

Gluten — A Problematic Protein for Allergy Sufferers

Made up of two proteins (gliadin and glutenin), gluten can generate adverse reactions in a sizable portion of the population. In severe cases, gluten sensitivity can cause celiac disease, a serious autoimmune condition causing extreme inflammatory reactions to gluten.  

While many people only have a mild sensitivity to gluten, the protein can still generate inflammatory reactions. In addition to intestinal discomfort, the inflammation caused by gluten sensitivity can strain the immune system, compromise the function of the GI tract, and affect many other organ systems, including the brain. Like addressing leaky gut, many people with seasonal allergies find relief when they eliminate gluten from their diets.  

Gluten isn’t the only food that can generate inflammation. Many people react poorly to dairy, soy, eggs, and other commonly consumed foods. However, there’s a more insidious enemy: Processed foods, which in many cases are both inflammatory and void of nutritional value. It may also help to stay away from factory-farmed meat, alcohol, and excessive caffeine intake. The best way to determine individual food sensitivities is with an elimination diet under the guidance of an experienced nutritionist.

Nutrition for Inflammation Control

There are many nutrient-dense, whole foods that can reduce inflammation and support a healthy immune response. Emphasize organic lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, sprouted whole grains, nuts, seeds, and healthy fats. There are several gluten-free grains high in nutrition, such as rice, amaranth, millet, and quinoa. (These are more nutrient-dense and have more anti-inflammatory power when soaked, sprouted, or fermented.)

Choose brightly colored fruits and vegetables, rich in anti-inflammatory phytonutrients and other beneficial compounds. Also, drink lots of filtered or spring water. Chronic dehydration can hamper immunity and increase inflammation, aggravating allergies. 

People with allergies, or any immune-related issue, should emphasize foods rich in flavonoids, a powerful class of health-promoting phytonutrients. The flavonoid quercetin is particularly helpful for allergies, reducing inflammation and controlling histamine. Foods rich in quercetin include red onion, dill, kale, apples, berries, and capers.  

Foods packed with omega-3 fatty acids, including wild salmon, flax, walnuts, and sardines, are also healing. These contain healthy fats that support immunity and help reduce inflammation.

Feeding Your Gut with Beneficial Bacteria

More than 70% of your immune system is in your gut, and your friendly flora plays a primary role in immune cell development and training. 

New research also shows that the body’s microbiome enhances the assimilation of flavonoids and other polyphenols. So, it’s crucial to feed your gut healthy bacteria. Good choices: cultured probiotic foods such as yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut and “prebiotic” foods such as chicory root, dandelion greens, and garlic. Prebiotics nourish probiotics and help them thrive. 

A daily probiotic supplement is also essential. Probiotics also work to balance immune responses. By balancing and regulating immune activity, probiotics work to prevent: 

  • An underactive immune system that leaves you defenseless against infections
  • An overactive immune system that creates out-of-control inflammation and attacks healthy parts of your body. This is what happens with allergies, and more severely in autoimmune conditions.

When your immune system faces off with an infectious microbe like a virus, probiotics direct it to ramp up the production of antibodies, while initiating and directing T-cells and B-cells, your strongest infection-fighting immune cells.  

Tried probiotics with little success? Consider a certified organic botanically enhanced pre + probiotic liquid supplement that is unlike other probiotic formulas. It delivers powerful, fast-acting support for optimal digestion, along with numerous other areas of health. 

Fermentation byproducts in this formula create a balanced gut pH environment where the probiotic bacteria can thrive; the prebiotics nourish the probiotics, so they can flourish and create a healthy GI environment.  

Allergies and Toxins — Is there a Connection?

There are thousands of toxins in the environment that find their way into our bodies. While the relationship between toxicity and allergies is not clearly proven, there is alarming evidence accumulating regarding the link between environmental toxins, such as pesticides like glyphosate and heavy metals, and the development of autoimmune diseases. Clearly, these environmental poisons generate inflammation and can wreak havoc on the body’s finely tuned neuro-endocrine and immune systems.  

For anyone suffering from allergies, a periodic detoxification featuring organic, anti- inflammatory foods can help reduce symptoms. Gentle detoxifying agents — including the anti-inflammatory super nutrient modified citrus pectin and binders such as fulvic acid and alginates — help remove heavy metals, pesticides, and even radioactive isotopes. Cleansing is a key practice that can help eliminate harmful substances, reduce inflammation, and help restore the body’s balance.  

Try Mushrooms to Balance Your Immune System

In addition to being rich in complex vitamins and minerals, mushrooms contain carbohydrates such as beta-glucans that have a powerful impact on immunity. They are particularly useful when fighting allergies because they don’t simply boost the immune system, they modulate it. In other words, they can both energize immune cells or reign in their response, depending on the need.  

By balancing immunity, they keep the body from either overreacting or underreacting to pathogens and other threats. There are numerous medicinal mushrooms that can provide support — reishi, cordyceps, coriolus, umbellatus, argaricus, and maitake are standouts for immune balance.  

Supplements are an ideal way to reap the benefits of medicinal mushrooms. They are great if you don’t like to eat mushrooms — or don’t want to eat them every day. Also, many medicinal mushrooms are hard to find at local food stores. One formula that has helped my patients contains six mushrooms that are cultivated on a blend of adaptogenic, immune-balancing herbs. These botanicals infuse the mushrooms with additional healing compounds.

Leaky gut, food sensitivities, microbiome imbalances, poor dietary choices, and other factors, all fuel chronic inflammation, which in turn cause allergies to flare — a viscous cycle indeed. This brings consequences far beyond the discomfort caused by most hay fever symptoms. Chronic inflammation can play a role in numerous life-threatening conditions. We should all be doing everything possible to keep inflammation in check.

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Lyme disease can be devastating. It often causes mysterious, unrelated symptoms that linger and severely affect someone’s quality of life — everything from chronic flu-like feelings and digestive complications to extreme fatigue and neurological problems. It’s also notoriously difficult to recognize and treat. 

But there is hope! If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Lyme disease — or even if you think you might have it — I urge you to register for the FREE Healing From Lyme Disease Summit

Leading experts in Lyme research and treatment will be sharing their experience and innovative therapeutic protocols for overcoming this complex condition. 

Join me, Dr. Isaac Eliaz, on Day 1 of the summit, where I will discuss “The Root Cause of Chronic Lyme — and How to Overcome It for Total-Body Health.” This includes the little-known role co-infections, autoimmune tendencies, and inflammation play in chronic Lyme disease. 

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Díaz-Alvarez, Laura & Soto, Enrique. (2017). The Many Roles of Galectin-3, a Multifaceted Molecule, in Innate Immune Responses against Pathogens. Mediators of Inflammation. 2017. 1-10. 10.1155/2017/9247574.

Eliaz I, Raz A. Pleiotropic Effects of Modified Citrus Pectin. Nutrients. 2019 Nov 1;11(11):2619.

Wasser SP. Medicinal Mushrooms in Human Clinical Studies. Part I. Anticancer, Oncoimmunological, and Immunomodulatory Activities: A Review. Int J Med Mushrooms. 2017;19(4):279-317.  

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