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Filtering by Tag: allergies

In Defense of Dirt

Janis Covey

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Summer is here! It’s time to get outdoors (preferably barefoot) and let those kids get dirty!  Yes, you heard me right...DIRTY.

Why you ask?  Because dirt is good for you.  Exposing our bodies to bacteria, viruses and fungus help the body build a strong immune system.  We as a society have been groomed to sterilize everything and keep our children from getting dirty.  Petting zoos requires anti-bacterial wipes, wash your hands as soon as you touch that dog, getting dirty in the backyard requires an immediate bath.  This is all wrong! By not exposing our children to germs in our environment, we are setting them up for allergies, asthma and even eczema.

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The purpose of our immune system is to fight foreign “threats” such as bacteria and viruses and create a long acting defense against these “threats”.  When we don’t expose ourselves to “threats” then our immune system gets bored and starts to react to “non-threats” such as pollen and foods. This leads to the development of allergies and asthma.

There was a study done by American Academy of Pediatrics in May of 2013 showing that parents who lick their children’s pacifiers to clean them were less likely to develop asthma, allergies and eczema then parents who did not do use this cleaning method.  The children whose parents licked the pacifier had stronger immune systems overall.

Pacifier Cleaning Practices and Risk of Allergy Development

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So what does this all mean?  For me, I don’t freak out when my kids eat a snack without washing their hands first, we never use anti-bacterial products (I like Kosmatology’s MADE SAFE Certified Foaming Hand Soap for clean up)  and I embrace the dirty. I let my kids run outside barefoot in the dirt, if a dog licks my daughter’s face I don’t feel the need to immediately disinfect her. I hope these actions will help them develop strong immune systems ready to take on the bacterial and viral world but not non-threatening pollen and foods!

Fighting Allergies Naturally

Janis Covey

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Here comes the warm weather!  But with the increase in temperatures comes an increase in pollen, and therefore, seasonal allergies.  There are numerous medications on the market, such as anti-histamines, to deal with the symptoms, but they come with a slew of side effects.  These can include dehydration, sleepiness and constipation.  There are several ways to relieve allergy symptoms before you need to reach for that medication.

Shower before Bed:  Think of your hair as a sponge.  It is absorbing pollen, dust and other allergens all day.  When you lay your head on your pillow, you transfer those allergens to it, and then as you sleep and turn, you are inhaling them.  Have you ever woken up stuffy with swollen allergy eyes?  This is probably why.

Avoid Fragrances:  We aren’t just talking about perfume but any product containing synthetic fragrance.  The term fragrance on a label is a catch-all.  Fragrances can be made up of thousands of different chemicals and many of them are known allergens.  Instead, reach for products that are unscented or scented with essential oils.

Avoid Spicy Foods:  Spicy foods activate the immune system.  Opting for a blander diet will prevent immune activation.

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Foods to Avoid: Tomatoes, I know this is hard to hear.  Tomatoes are a summer staple, but tomatoes contain histamines, and histamines trigger an allergic response.  Another food to avoid is dairy.  Dairy thickens mucus and makes it harder to clear.  We all hear how bad sugar is for us.  Unfortunately, sugar can be added to the list of foods to avoid, because it also worsens allergies.  Sugar causes inflammation which is an important player in the allergic response.  Decreasing the body’s inflammation helps keep allergies in check.

Drink Green Tea:  Japanese researchers found that EGCG, the abundant anti-oxidant compound in green tea, helps stop your body from mounting an immune response to a variety of allergens including pollen, dust, pet dander and dust.

Eat Onions, Peppers, Berries and Parsley:  All these foods are high in quercetin.  Quercetin is a natural compound found to reduce histamine reactions.  Histamines are a major player in the body’s allergic response.

Eat Pineapple:  Pineapple contains the anti-inflammatory enzyme bromelain.  Bromelain thins mucus and makes it easier to clear.  There are some studies showing that pineapple is as effective as over the counter cough suppressants and mucolytics.

Add Turmeric:  Turmeric contains quercetin which helps reduce the body’s response to histamine.  It also contains curcumin which is a powerful anti-inflammatory.

Have any other tips for naturally fighting allergy season?  Let us know in the comments.