Allergies have now replaced the infectious diseases that claimed so many lives in the last century as one of our most pressing health problems. The once common infectious diseases including TB, diphtheria and scarlet fever have largely been eradicated through better hygiene and antibiotics. Yet, not much attention has been paid to the dietary and lifestyle causes of these problems.
Although, not often fatal, allergies represent a weakened blood quality and immune system that leave us vulnerable to a host of dangerous and potentially fatal infectious illnesses. The treatment of allergies can also be very costly in terms of doctors visits, medications, lost productivity and time from school or work. Their symptoms can also make our lives and the lives of those around us miserable.
It is estimated that around 23 million Europeans suffer some kind of allergic, respiratory disorder. Asthma now affects as many as one in seven school children, according to the Dublin-based European Federation of Allergy.
Why have allergies increased so rapidly, especially since the end of W.W.II? Why do they respond so poorly to medical treatments? We have to look at the recent changes in diet and lifestyle to answer these questions.
Allergies are related to a weakened blood quality, which is caused by an overly rich diet or nutritionally imbalanced diet. A diet high in animal fats especially from cold dairy products and cheese raises blood fat and cholesterol levels. These foods include cold milk, ice cream, yogurt, various types of cheese and butter.
Sweets and fruits help to make the blood more fatty. Fructose found in fruits and honeys are worse for allergy sufferers’ in many ways than sucrose, white sugar. Fructose rapidly increases blood sugar in those who eat a high fat diet.
In my previous article, “A Brief History of Food,” I explained how the modern diet depletes our supply of minerals. A lack of minerals allows our blood to be more acidic and open to infections.
Over many years I have seen hundreds and even thousands of children and adults with various types of allergies. My observation is that the increased consumption of the combination of dairy products, fruits and honey has weakened and compromised our immune systems and make allergies possible.
Other animal foods especially chicken and eggs, tuna fish and shell fish, while sweets including chocolate and fruit sweetened pastries add to the problem.
A more sedentary lifestyle further contributes to the problem. Our circulatory system has its own pump. The heart constantly works to move blood around the body. The immune system does not have its own pump, it depends on daily activity rather than periodic intensive exercise to activate its circulation. Without a variety of activity such as walking, cleaning, gardening and carrying things, the immune system cannot function efficiently.
The immune system has the job of filtering our blood. When it is exposed to a chronic high-fat diet, it becomes overloaded and unable to clean our blood properly. It becomes tired and sluggish. At this point we need a stronger method to clean our immune system. This is an allergy.
An allergy is our body’s attempt to clean itself regularly. The common cold is prime evidence of an overworked and sluggish immune system. It is our body’s attempt to tell us to simplify our diet and to take a rest. In this way our lymph system can empty, filter our blood more effectively and return us to good health. Other allergic reactions tell us the same thing.
We must differentiate between the primary and secondary causes of allergies. Allergens, the substances that set off allergic reactions, have different effects on different people.
Common allergens include dusts, pollen, mold, smoke, perfumes, odors of plastics; various foods; chemicals, synthetics, heat, cold, light, pressure, animals and animal products, hair, wool, fur and feathers.
Increased sensitivity to allergens is the secondary cause. Imbalances in diet and activity, which cause the increased sensitivities are the primary causes.
A high fat diet makes our mucus membranes and skin weak, fatty and too sensitive. It is easy to irritate them and cause a reaction. However, it is important not to mistake the irritant for the cause.
Allergens can affect us in various ways and produce many different reactions. The most common are running nose, watery and sensitive eyes, sinus infections, migraines; various types of skin eruptions, rashes and itching; bronchial asthma; digestive disturbances; and extreme fatigue and weakness.
Recent progress in the study of psychoneuroimmunology has shown the connection between mind, emotions, immunity and health. These systems parallel each other.
When the immune system functions well it efficiently and effectively neutralizes toxins and antigens. It then excretes them from the body before they can cause damage.
It is the same in our daily life when we are in good shape and can easily handle the various problems and tasks that come our way each day. We can handle our work or problems quickly and efficiently before things can pile up.
If the immune system becomes tired and sluggish it becomes insensitive or indifferent to these antigens and they accumulate in the body. They are just waiting to cause problems in the future. This is the transitional stage to an unhealthy immune system.
When we feel run down or overloaded in our daily life with too much work or responsibility it is easy to not notice or ignore things. We let things pile up and many projects or responsibilities do not get taken care of. Sometimes we miss important signals or possibilities. This is the transitional stage to problems in life, work or relationships.
In the third stage the immune system starts to overreact or react inappropriately. It produces reactions that are often too extreme, things that others do not react to cause a reaction in us. Exposure to dust, smoke, pollen or the cold or sun may set off an extreme asthma attack or a migraine.
These are allergies. Our weakened immune system tries too hard to help us return to a normal healthy condition.
In life it is again the same. When we really feel overloaded and stressed it is easy to overreact. It is easy to work hard and not produce much or to react in a way that creates even more problems. Sometimes we misinterpret our boss or even friends and loved one’s intentions.
Allergies are the disease of modern society. They have physical, emotional and mental symptoms, yet they are not really a disease. Allergies are a sign to make some basic changes in our life.
The first changes are dietary. Add whole cereal grains and a variety of cooked vegetables into your diet. Please see “What’s Cooking” for some ideas in this area. Be careful of potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and mushrooms. These often contribute to allergies due to their acidifying affect on our blood.
Try to rely more on white meat fish, unless you are allergic to it, than other forms of animal or dairy foods. If you are adventurous you can try adding some sea vegetables to your diet. These foods used in small quantities help to strengthen immunity.
After you have added more healthy foods into your diet think about reducing the foods that are the primary causes of allergies. If any healthy foods cause an allergic reaction leave them out for a month and try adding them again.
Try to take a half hour walk every day and walk up stairs when you can. Scrubbing your skin with a hot damp towel daily for about 15 minutes also strengthens immunity.
Keeping your home well cleaned, orderly and well ventilated will also help. Natural materials especially cotton and untreated woods are a good idea.
You can make a drink from simmering equal parts of finely chopped onions, carrots, cabbage and pumpkin in four parts water for about 20 minutes in a covered pot. There is no seasoning in this mildly sweet drink. Strain the vegetables and drink it hot. You can drink one or two cups daily for a month and then occasionally after that. This natural sweetness helps to strengthen immunity.
Sweetness in life also helps. Work on developing nourishing and supportive relationships. Spend time with children and friends. Sing happy songs and see funny movies. And of course laugh more, the happy times chase the allergies away.