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Oct 30, 2013 07:40 PM

Anyone had success minimizing (environmental) allergies with diet?

I think I've sneezed at least 300 times today thanks to some decaying leaves and who knows what else. I take a generic zyrtec every day but some days there's some breakthrough. I'm wondering if anyone has had success with diet/supplements to reduce this sort of allergy. Perhaps a mitigating factor (or not?) is I eat a vegetarian diet with a recent commitment to a vegan one.

TIA, Sara

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  1. My allergist is a god to me. Desensitized me within 12 weeks, kept increasing the dose for two years and nothing breaks through during high allergy season except for an occasional mold reaction in my eyes. I can sleep with the windows open even during tree pollen and ragweed seasons!

    In terms of asthma, I read gadzillion anecdotal reports by new low carbers who were amazed that they'd stopped needing their inhalers for attacks almost entirely shortly after starting low carb. Similar anecdotes were common wrt IBS, GERD and arhralgia. Something about the hormonal alteration is anti inflammatory.

    4 Replies
    1. re: mcf

      i struggled my entire life with spring allergies, colds, coughs and miserable bronchial issues.

      i gave up grains and POOF, have not been sick in 4+ years. no doctor ever suggested my diet might be challenging my immune system.

      oh! AND as a vegetarian? i was sick as a dog, all the time. i added back meat and my health did improve.

      you may also want to have your vitamin d levels checked. if you live in the northern hemisphere, you likely are low and, among other issues, that whacks out your immune response.

      1. re: hotoynoodle

        Good to know that meat helps, and I agree so much about the vitamin D levels. Please do share if you have any more insightful experience.

      2. re: mcf

        Wow, may I ask whether the desensitization treatment is still commonly used these days? Or is it only for certain allergens? I am very interested in it, after hearing others talk about it as an effective treatment from a long time ago (10+ years), or in Europe.. However, where I am in Canada, it looks like it is not an option for me.

        It is wonderful to be no longer affected by environmental allergens, because they can be everywhere!

        Also, do you mean that low carbing leads to hormonal changes that reduces inflammation and so alleviates its related conditions? I eat everything "in moderation" and loosely based on low-carb and paleo principles, and would like to know if it worth putting extra effort to really control carbs to see if it helps.

        Thank you for sharing :-)

        1. re: vil

          Yes, anecdotally the hormonal shift, which allows normalized steroid synthesis by the adrenals, and the reduction of ACTH and CRH from the pituitary as a result (look these up in a PubMed or google scholar search with any chronic inflammatory conditions for an eye opener) seems to be a likely mechanism for reduction of inflammation.

          My allergist practices in a very old fashioned, rapid and fairly aggressive way to desensitize and it takes only 12 weeks to stop the suffering, and months to a couple of years to achieve near complete symptomatic relief with maintenance injections and retesting every six months to adjust.

      3. I find that if I carefully avoid those foods to which I am allergic during high allergy times (like now) my overall reactions are less severe.

        that said, right now I'm supplementing my allegra with advil allergy sinus because I've had a hell of a week due mostly to office perfume overload. so I'm being even more stringent than usual to avoid dairy - which causes issues on good days and can make bad days MUCH worse.

        2 Replies
        1. re: jujuthomas

          i used to think i was lactose-intolerant. then i gave up grains and realized it was the krap gluten i always ate with cheese that actually made me sick.

          1. re: hotoynoodle

            This. Going grain free has improved my health in so many ways that I didn't even know weren't working right. No more afternoon tiredness, no more "seasonal allergies," no more heartburn that I used to blame on acidy or spicy foods, etc. My body works so much better now.

        2. Agreed with all the previous posters. If you can, think about adding healthy "bugs" to your gut, too, via kefir, yogurt, or other fermented stuff of your choice. That has truly helped me.

          1. Interesting subject, especially because there are more and more studies pointing out that even for people from another continent and ethnicity, such as Asia, they are more prone to allergies the longer they had been living in North America.

            To me, that says that it is something we are constantly exposed to, either in the environment and/or the food, that is contributing to these allergies. I would really like to solve this puzzle, in trying to calm down my multiple allergies and related conditions that suddenly started showing up violently since five years ago.

            I think I am on the right track, focusing mostly on diet and naturopathic remedies (and in fact, sometimes it is hard to draw a line between the two). However, being desperate, I tend to follow multiple protocols all at once and so cannot really tell which ones are helping the most.

            What I am or had been doing the most:
            - Low carb and whole grain - rice, barley, millet etc., which I find hard to cut off completely. And when I do, I tend to douse my grains with shiso oil (also called wild sesame, but contrary to sesame, has a low Inflammatory Factor rating).
            - High fat and oils, especially with those that are considered low in IF rating. For example, I load up on butter if I eat toast, and I practically fry my eggs in olive oil for breakfast :-) Also take a high dose fish oil supplement, and I am not shy about eating the fattiest cuts of beef and pork
            - Cut down on oils that have high IF rating - surprisingly, this includes sesame and grapeseed
            - High protein
            - Raw and/or fermented, including yolks, beef, fish and kimchi etc.
            - Going organic for produce, and grass-fed/hormone and chemical free for meats and dairy, even raw (from trusted local farms) when I can. However I am increasingly skeptical about the "organic" aspect, being aware of the ever changing and relaxing standards.

            And my list for non-food related items is probably even much longer ;-)

            10 Replies
            1. re: vil

              That high dose fish oil can be extremely allergenic and also strongly lowers cortisol, which assists in anti iflammatory action, so I'd try stopping it.

              In fact, I'd strip away that for a few weeks, evaluate, then cut the grain servings by half each few weeks until/if you see changes or improvements.

              Grass fed meats and dairy have lower inflammatory profiles, in terms of fats and arachidonic acid.

              1. re: mcf


                agree about ditching the fish oil supp. many on the shelves are rancid and provoke inflammation. just eat wild fatty fish and plenty of good pastured eggs.

                also agree about reducing or eliminating grains. whole or not they are inflammatory for more people than most realize.

                1. re: hotoynoodle

                  It's not just rancidity. Fish tends to be high in histamine,

                  1. re: mcf

                    much of the fish oil on the market is just a krap by-product of farmed fish and of very dubious quality.

                    i wouldn't touch it with a 10-foot pole.

                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                      When I bought it, I bought distilled from wild caught fish.

                      1. re: mcf

                        oh, good stuff is out there. but those caplets on the shelf at wal-mart? :0

                        i just eat smelts and sardines and such. or baitfish as my b/f calls it, lol.

                  2. re: hotoynoodle

                    Quite an informative link (and website). That will take a while to digest.

                    It is difficult though, if having wild fatty fish on a regular basis is impractical.

                    Any thoughts about the fermented cod liver oil, which I hear about more often these days?

                    1. re: vil

                      am not sure why having fatty fish is impractical? it can be gotten very cheaply at places like trader joe's, costco and asian markets.

                      you can probably find frozen smelts at your regular market.

                      or do you just not like it?

                      i know many proponents of the fclo, but i just prefer to eat whole foods.

                      i supplement only with d3, k2 and magnesium.

                  3. re: mcf

                    Thanks for the suggestions!

                    About the grains, I know it will be hard because I find it a comfort food, especially for the colder months. I cannot think of a better vehicle for the kimchi I like so much these days :-)

                    Quite alarming about the allergenic nature of fish oil... I read your other comments and those by hotoynoodle down-thread, and see that a whole can of worms is being opened here. I thought my biggest concern with fish oil had always been just mercury..

                    So, let me get this right.. Fish oil tends to go rancid.. How about canned sardines, for example? Do the oils in them tend to get more rancid than what is good for us? I do not eat that much wild fatty fish these days for practicality reasons (availability and cost), and would like to find a happy medium.. especially I am also hoping to eat more protein too (as mentioned in the other thread).

                    And you mentioned the higher histamine levels in fish. Would like to learn more about that too, so either I will find something to post here, or please point me to some further information if you can, thanks.

                    I had been taking this fish oil from Carlson Labs for YEARS, for its higher EPA and perceived quality.... I was hoping it would help with my brain function, mood, heart, and inflammatory conditions (skin, respiratory etc.) ... It is quite a moment when I realized I could have been doing it all wrong :-(

                    1. re: vil

                      my name is a hotoynoodle and i was a grain-a-holic. :)

                      giving them up was the best thing i have done for my health. ever. it gets easier going without to the point of rarely thinking of ever eating them, when i ate them several times a day in the past. i went low-carb to lose weight. the improved health and disappearance of lifetime bronchial issues were totally unexpected.

                      the integrity of the oils in fish isn't an issue. the processing to extrude oil from farmed fish, sloppy manufacturing, cheap caplets and bottles all are problematic, however. my understanding is carlson labs is well-regarded, but unless you're keeping the oil in the fridge be wary.

                      the issue with supplements is you are taking one isolated nutrient and the body requires a synergy of other things to make everything bio-available. for example, many women take iron supplements, but adequate zinc is also required for the iron to be best absorbed. oysters present both minerals just how the body needs them! by eating real fish you'll get not just the O:3, but the protein, vitamin d, magnesium, etc.

                      i eat tinned sardine and wild salmon a few times per week. it's cheap. i can also get smelts, mackerel and whiting very inexpensively too, but i live in new england.

                2. I recently talked to a gentleman when I was picking up raw milk from my local co-op, who said that his sinus conditions got better after drinking the raw milk. We found that very interesting because he said that before, his conditions were not improving when he was having organic milk that was supposedly sourced from the same farm that the raw milk co-op is using. This means that what made a difference was whether the milk was raw or pasteurized.

                  I also notice I seem to get similar effects between organic and raw milk, but also understand that there could be many other variables and factors at play (because I am also constantly experimenting with various non-diet protocols, some of which are definitely helping).. Only time can tell.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: vil

                    It could also be that the raw milk came from cows not living in dire conditions or on grains vs. pasture?

                    1. re: mcf

                      Could be. According to what I know, the raw milk is from pasture/straw, and the organic milk that the gentleman had is from a brand (Organic Meadows) that sources from multiple farms, one of which could be the same one supplying the raw milk, but there can be other sources too. My best guess is the different practices from theses other sources is be the culprit.