Nutrition Tips

Does Spring cause you, allergy grief? Your diet might be able to help

Posted on
October 3, 2019

Spring has sprung and so have the flowers with plenty of pollen and the wind to spread it.For those who suffer with hay fever and asthma it can be a nightmare. Pollen and dust can cause the immune system to have an allergic response. This includes inflammation, particularly in the nose for hay fever sufferers. How can your diet help? One way is via our gut microbiome,which influences inflammation in the body.

When our balance of good and bad bacteria are well balanced our body likes this. When the balance tips in favour of the bad bacteria, we have a state of dysbiosis which can cause us health problems,including inflammation in not only the gut but other areas of the body.

How do we keep the good gut bacteria up to avoid the damage?

Eat plenty of plant foods. Particularly those high in dietary fibre. We need to feed the good bacteria and we do that with prebiotic fibre. This type of fibre passes undigested to the large intestine and is ‘eaten’or fermented by bacteria. Eating our fruits, vegetables, wholegrains and legumes provide us with plenty of dietary fibre, some of which is prebiotic (1). You will find prebiotic fibre in foods such as unripe bananas, onion, asparagus,peaches, nectarines, watermelon, dried fruit, legumes, oats, barley, rye bread,wholewheat bread and pasta, cooked and cooled potatoes, rice or pasta (that form resistant starch- resistant to digestion and passes to the large intestine)(2).

This type of diet is how we should be eating to reduce the risk of many chronic diseases which too are often associated with excess inflammation. Minimising highly processed, low nutrient containing foods such as sweetened drinks, confectionery, take away food and excess alcohol will also aid with keeping the inflammation down in our gut and the rest of the body.

What do thegut bacteria do?

When we have a low fibre diet research has shown that dysbiosis can occur (3), our good and bad bacteria are out of balance. This can change the substances, (including gases) produced by the bacteria, some of which are harmful. It also alters how the microbes interact with the wall of the gut; the gut lining or also known as mucosa. The lining of the gut mucosa becomes thinner as the bad bacteria degrade or eat it away. Thinning mucosa is a concern as the thick protective barrier is designed to keep the bacteria away from the intestinal cell wall. As it gets thinner the bacteria get closer to the cell wall where toxins and bacteria can then more easily pass through into the blood stream, around the body. This can cause inflammation. As asthma and hay fever are inflammatory conditions- (an over response to normal stimuli such as dust and pollen)- we want to help reduce inflammation.

Having plenty of good bacteria means a good production of short chain fatty acids (SCFA) gases, which are helpful to us. The cells use these gases to help keep the mucosa cells healthy. They have an anti-inflammatory effect by stimulating the T cells of the immune system to stop the immune system from over reacting to stimuli, such as those spring pollen's. The SCFA are absorbed from the gut and reach other organs, controlling inflammation in these organs also.

Is it time your diet had a spring clean?

Research shows that a diet high in prebiotic fibre may be a way of helping to control asthma. Could this be similar too for hay fever? (4,5). Is it time to give your diet a spring clean?  What better time than spring when a whole array of vegetables come into season bursting with nutrients and fibre.

 

-Fresh asparagus,blanched with snow, peas drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and blanched almonds.

-Lentil salads with onion, tomatoes and fresh herbs.

-Swapping white breads for dense wholegrain loaves

-Overnight oats with berries and dollops of natural yoghurt.

 

Spring is a great time to get outdoors, so let’s hope with a boost to your good gut bacteria that you may be able to enjoy it more with less ….. ahhhhh chooo sneezing.

 

References:

1.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18215222

2.  https://www.monash.edu/medicine/ccs/gastroenterology/prebiotic/faq#6

3.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3448089/

4 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28075383

5. https://www.newcastle.edu.au/newsroom/featured/a-healthy-gut-can-keep-your-lungs-happy

#hayfever #spring #diet #health #nutrition #guthealth #microbiome

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