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Fresh Five: How to beat this allergy season


photo courtesy of Wix Media

I often tell my patients, we are all buckets walking around on this planet. If we are in balance, our buckets remain at a nice tolerable level of fullness (I’m an optimist, so I say half full), but if we have too many exposures, our buckets “runneth over,” and we have symptoms. What are these exposures (i.e. what fills our buckets)? Well, what we breathe, for one, but also what we eat, the bacteria/molds/viruses we encounter, the stressors we have in our life and what we put on our skin can all fill our buckets, and ultimately overload our physiological detoxification methods, resulting in symptoms.


Our goals are to 1) Stop overfilling our buckets, 2) Clean up what’s already in the bucket and 3) Eliminate what we don’t need in that bucket. Here are my top 5 tips to minimize potential triggers in our foods and cosmetics/skincare, decrease allergic symptoms, and manager stress, to help balance our “buckets.”


Avoid potential food triggers:

Many environmental allergens have been shown to exacerbate food sensitivities, and vice versa, often referred to as Oral Allergy Syndrome or Pollen Food Allergy Syndrome (PFAS). Basically, if you have a true allergy to a specific pollen or environmental inhalant, you become sensitized (i.e. more reactive) to certain food items. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you are reactive to the food items all year-round. So, you may experience more severe symptoms in response to a food, due to the compounded exposure during the time of the year when pollen counts are high.


One of the best online resources for tracking which pollen counts may be high in your area is www.pollen.com. Sign up for the email alerts, and you can be prepared for days of high pollen counts, and supplement accordingly to manage symptoms, or avoid the foods that cross react until that pollen count has returned to baseline. Additionally, you can overlay your symptoms to see if you may be sensitive to something that you have yet to have formally diagnosed. For a list of potential food/pollen cross reactivity, see below.

Pollen

Foods that cross react

Birch

Apples, stone fruits, celery, carrot, nuts, and soybeans

  • Celery, carrots and soybeans appear to have the strongest reactivity

  • Celery and hazelnuts appear to have the same effects whether cooked or raw

  • Other potential cross reactive foods (in some individuals): peach, orange, lychee fruit, strawberry, persimmon, zucchini, tomato, bell pepper, banana and carrot

Possibly walnut

Alder

Apples, plums, kiwis, carrots, celery, potatoes, hazelnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds and even spices such as oregano, basil and dill

House Dust Mites

Shrimp

Quercus spp.

Bromelain/Pineapple

Ragweed

Cucurbitaceae vegetables (e.g., watermelon, melon, cucumber) and banana have been reported

Bromelain/Pineapple

Grass

Tomato, potato, green- pea, peanut, watermelon, melon, apple, orange and kiwi

Mugwort

Celery, carrot, spices, nuts, mustard and Leguminoseae vegetables

Cannabis

Tobacco, natural latex and plant-food-derived alcoholic beverages

Eat a healthy, well rounded, seasonal diet.

photo from Wix Media

Fortunately, nature is smarter than us! If you look at the potential cross-reactive food/pollen list, you’ll notice that the foods and pollen that may compound your symptoms are not usually present in nature at the same time of the year. So, if you focus on local and seasonal food options, you are giving yourself the best chance at success in avoiding possible cross-reactivity.


Supplements for symptom management.

So you have worked on your diet, but you are still having symptoms? Well, this is when you may want a supplemental assist. Consider quercetin, nettles, vitamin B6, NAC to help manage your symptoms. Try our Allergy Foundations plan, through FullScript, for a more comprehensive approach.


Stress management.

Stress has been shown to exacerbate allergic symptoms, both the stereotypical red, itchy eyes and runny nose, as well as flares in skin presentations, like eczema,,,. So, during your most symptomatic allergy season, steal some time for stress management. Consider apps like Calm or Insight Timer, or do as I do, with walking meditations (i.e. hikes) and paddling meditations (i.e. kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding)!


Spring Clean your routine.

Our exposures are not exclusively related to the foods we eat, or outside our house, so it’s important to evaluate our cosmetics and skincare products, cleaning supplies and consider air and water purification. Stay tuned for more articles to find out how you can Spring Clean your Routine!


Still confused? Schedule your appointment with Dr. Abigail by calling/texting or you can book online. We’ll help you navigate your personal health concerns, and can recommend the best lab tests to help identify your individual allergens.



REFERENCES:

  • Wagner, A., Szwed, A., Buczyłko, K., & Wagner, W. (2016). Allergy to apple cultivars among patients with birch pollinosis and oral allergy syndrome. Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology117(4), 399-404.

  • Vieths, S., Scheurer, S., & BALLMER‐WEBER, B. A. R. B. A. R. A. (2002). Current understanding of cross‐reactivity of food allergens and pollen. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences964(1), 47-68.

  • Wangorsch, A., Jamin, A., Lidholm, J., Gräni, N., Lang, C., Ballmer‐Weber, B., ... & Scheurer, S. (2017). Identification and implication of an allergenic PR‐10 protein from walnut in birch pollen associated walnut allergy. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research.

  • Rosenfield, L., Tsoulis, M. W., Milio, K., Schnittke, M., & Kim, H. (2017). High rate of house dust mite sensitization in a shrimp allergic southern Ontario population. Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology13(1), 5.

  • Bedolla-Barajas, M., Kestler-Gramajo, A., Alcalá-Padilla, G., & Morales-Romero, J. (2017). Prevalence of oral allergy syndrome in children with allergic diseases. Allergologia et Immunopathologia45(2), 127-133.

  • Caballero, T., & Martin-Esteban, M. (1997). Association between pollen hypersensitivity and edible vegetable allergy: a review. Journal of investigational allergology & clinical immunology8(1), 6-16.

  • Anderson, L. B., Dreyfuss, E. M., Logan, J., Johnstone, D. E., & Glaser, J. (1970). Melon and banana sensitivity coincident with ragweed pollinosis. Journal of Allergy45(5), 310-319

  • Yokoi, H., Yoshitake, H., Matsumoto, Y., Kawada, M., Takato, Y., Shinagawa, K., ... & Saito, K. (2017). Involvement of cross-reactive carbohydrate determinants-specific IgE in pollen allergy testing. Asia Pacific Allergy7(1), 29.

  • Bircher, A. J., Melle, G. V., Haller, E., Curty, B., & Frei, P. C. (1994). IgE to food allergens are highly prevalent in patients allergic to pollens, with and without symptoms of food allergy. Clinical & Experimental Allergy24(4), 367-374.

  • Caballero, T., & Martin-Esteban, M. (1997). Association between pollen hypersensitivity and edible vegetable allergy: a review. Journal of investigational allergology & clinical immunology8(1), 6-16.

  • Decuyper, I. I., Van Gasse, A. L., Cop, N., Sabato, V., Faber, M., Mertens, C., ... & Ebo, D. G. (2016). Cannabis sativa allergy: looking through the fog. Allergy.

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