Forming Healthy Habits For Allergy Relief And Wellness
Allergies And Your Immune System
Do you ever notice that your allergy or asthma symptoms get worse in times of stress? Have you ever regulated your diet to improve your allergic symptoms? Our bodies are incredibly complex and miraculously, our body's components are constantly working together to keep us breathing, standing, talking, etc. When the body is healthy, it is less prone to many of the problems that plague allergy and asthma sufferers. Because National Allergy specializes in non-drug relief, we want to encourage you to see how the health of the whole body can effect allergy, asthma and sinus symptoms. What follows are simple overviews of how some of our body's most vital systems work, and a few tips on what you can do to keep them healthy.
Many people do not know that allergic reactions are a result of the immune system working TOO hard. Allergies are one of a group of conditions including lupus, arthritis and pernicious anemia that are known as autoimmune disorders. These "self-attacking-self" conditions happen when the body generates a strong immune response toward an inappropriate target. For allergy sufferers, this occurs when the body becomes confused about substances such as pollen, dust mites, cat dander, common molds, foods or medications, and treats them as intruders. Your body responds with the familiar stuffy nose, itchy and watery eyes, and headaches. For more detail on the fascinating events of an allergic reaction, see our June 2003 newsletter entitled "Why I Have Allergies, Why They Make Me Sick, and What I Can Do About Them".
The immune system's major functions are to recognize and react against foreign substances (antigens) in the body. The immune system permeates virtually every inch of your body, constantly defending against "invaders" using specific and non-specific defenses. Non-specific defenses include intact skin, which serves as an effective barrier for most microbes, and mucous membranes like those in the sinuses and digestive tract. Even gastric juices use their high acidity to destroy some bacteria and toxins.
Specific defenses involve the production of antibodies by certain organs of the immune system, mostly the thymus gland and bone marrow. You may have heard about antioxidants, which are also specific defenses. They defend against free radicals - unstable chemicals in your body that can destroy cell lining and cause other damage. Some helpful tips on how to increase your intake of antigen-fighting antioxidants can be found at the end of this article.
Ever Heard Of The Thymus Gland?
According to Dr. Carson Burgstiner, one of the major functions of the thymus gland is to produce the white blood cells responsible for cell-mediated immunity - that is, immunity not controlled or mediated by antibodies. Cell-mediated immunity defends the body against infection from bacteria, yeast (including candida), fungi, parasites and viruses. Cell-mediated immunity even protects against cancer and allergies! Therefore, it is extremely important to keep the thymus healthy so it can continue to produce these defense cells. Unfortunately, the thymus atrophies as we age. In fact, your thymus gland started shrinking around age 20!
Sadly, this important immune-system catalyst called the thymus gland has been long overlooked. Dr. Burgstiner was able to cause his hepatitis B to go into remission and his life was extended when he began to attend to the health of his thymus gland. He said this about the thymus gland:
"We replace the thyroid gland with thyroid hormone, the adrenal gland with cortisone, the pancreas gland with insulin, and the ovaries with estrogen and progesterone. However, physicians have not routinely replaced the thymus gland. Yet thymus supplementation has been linked to dramatic results in such varied conditions as asthma, hay fever, allergies, chronic fatigue syndrome, herpes, condyloma acuminatum, and hepatitis B and C."
The use of thyrmosins (thymus gland hormones) has not yet been FDA approved in the United States for disease treatment. However, in Europe, thymosins are routinely used in the treatment of certain cancers, influenza and infectious diseases. Both allergy and asthma sufferers, whose immune systems are over-reactive and those with under-reactive immune systems can benefit from an immune system modulator like all-natural thymic formula, such as the one developed by Dr. Burgstiner after his years of research and testing.
You Are What You Eat... And Digest!
You may be one of the millions of Americans who suffers from digestive disorders or discomfort. Some of the best selling prescription drugs in America are those which mask the symptoms of poor digestion. One of the reasons this problem persists is because of the quality of our food and the amount we eat. Not only do we overeat (have you looked at a typical restaurant portion lately?), but most of the foods that we eat are stripped of their nutritional value. You may have noticed that most of the space in a typical grocery store is given to processed, preservative-packed food. This phenomenon is wreaking havoc on our ability to digest foods, which is compromising our immune system, thus making us more susceptible to certain diseases and chronic infections (including allergies and asthma). In fact, many leading health experts estimate that up to 80% of all diseases start in the intestinal tract!
The Importance Of Enzymes
Enzymes are a vital part of digestion, enabling the body to break down vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats and carbohydrates into the basic building blocks that it needs to function, grow and rejuvenate itself. The typical American diet is severely lacking enzymes since most of the food in our diet is processed, preserved, canned, frozen or irradiated. Cooking food at temperatures above 116° F also kills the natural enzymes. Unfortunately, even raw fruits and veggies contain few enzymes if they are picked before they have fully ripened (like most grocery store produce because it must be transported). A final piece of bad news (before we look at some solutions) is that, like thymus hormone deficiency, enzyme deficiency gets worse with age. In fact, a newborn typically has 100 times the enzyme levels of an elderly person!
How Can I Increase My Enzyme Intake?
While this information may seem overwhelming, you may not need to overhaul your eating habits. There are some practical solutions you can implement to add digestive enzymes to your diet and, as John Burgstiner says, "transform your gut from a toxic dump to a fuel-burning machine!"
Here are a couple of tips to start with:
- Eat organically-grown, naturally ripened produce.
- Supplement your diet with acid resistant digestive enzymes - choose a product like Essential Digestion, which offers an array of enzymes, and has a delivery system to maximize absorption by the body. Consult a physician before using an enzyme supplement if you suffer from ulcers.
Maintain Your (Good) Bacteria!
As important as it is to maintain a healthy level of enzymes, finding optimal health also means keeping a proper balance of intestinal flora. "Intestinal what?", you may be asking. Yes, our intestines are a vast world of good and bad bacteria, or flora, doing battle for dominance along the mucus-coated surfaces of the intestinal wall. Millions of microorganisms co-exist in our bodies, maintaining a vital chemical and hormonal balance. Some of the enemies to this balance are antibiotics, which literally translated means "against life". Antibiotics don't discriminate between the good bacteria and bad bacteria, but wipe out the entire population. Chlorinated water, air pollution and stress, as well as a diet high in sugar, alcohol, caffeine or processed foods can also adversely effect this delicate bacterial balance.
While antibiotics and other substances can be harmful to intestinal balance, probiotics are "the good guys," opposing invasion by harmful microorganisms in the "battle of the intestinal walls." Probiotics, meaning "for life," have been used in Europe for years to treat conditions like diarrhea, irritable bowel, chronic fatigue, chronic yeast infections, dairy product sensitivities, skin conditions, and allergies. The most important thing to remember is that these science-fiction-sounding scenarios have real-life implications! Let's look at practical ways that you can positively effect some of your body's most vital systems.
Healthy Diet And Lifestyle Tips
For Better Immune Health...
- Vitamin E, vitamin C, zinc, selenium and carotenoids act as antioxidants or co-factors for the body's antioxidant enzyme system and should be included in your diet.
- Studies have shown that eating 8-10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day provides more disease protection.
- Green tea and dark chocolate (yea!) also contain antioxidants.
- Reduce fat consumption to below 25% (American Health Foundation).
- Exercise regularly by walking briskly for half an hour every day, or doing an equivalent exercise such as jogging, hiking or bike riding.
- Take thymosins to boost your body's immune system.
For Better Digestive Health...
- Reduce your consumption of chlorinated water, sodas, refined sugars and preservatives.
- Monitor your stress level and be aware that it may be having adverse health effects.
- Fermented foods like kefir or yogurts are good sources of probiotics. Note: Many commercially prepared yogurt varieties are very high in sugar and low in beneficial bacteria. Try eating plain yogurt and adding your own favorite additives like vanilla for flavor.
- Maintain a healthy intake of dietary fiber, like wheat, oat and rice brans, as well as flax and psyllium.
- Certain herbs and other plants known to have beneficial properties for digestion include: ginger, fennel seed, slippery elm bark, burdock root, lemon, cloves, peppermint and chamomile.
- A dietary supplement like Essential Flora is the easiest, most assured way to get large numbers of the proper strains of flora in the intestinal tract.
Specifically For Allergies and Asthma...
- Research by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) shows that reducing a child's fat-intake could lower their risk for developing allergies and asthma.
- Use caution when introducing potentially allergenic foods like milk, eggs and peanuts into a child's diet.
- Some specialists recommend that adult allergy sufferers follow a low-protein diet and also eliminate milk products. Excessive protein can irritate the immune system and keep it in a state of overreactivity.
- Quercetin is a natural supplement shown to stabilize the cells that make histamine, which mediates many allergic responses. Available at many health food stores, 400 mg of Quercetin taken twice per day can act as a preventative to decrease reactions.
- Clear-Ease tablets are made from a physician-developed formula of fruit enzymes that decrease swelling and thin nasal mucous to ease sinus and throat discomfort.
General Information On Supplements
The dietary supplements carried by National Allergy are made with care and integrity. Many of our staff and customers have found great benefit by using one or all of the Burgstiner supplements. But please talk to your healthcare provider before taking supplements if you are thinking about replacing your regular medical care with one or more supplements; are taking prescription or over-the-counter medications; have a chronic medical condition; are going to have surgery; are pregnant or nursing a baby; or are thinking about giving a child a supplement. We hope you enjoyed this month's newsletter. Remember that establishing good health habits can have a world of effect, so make choices today that will lead to a healthy tomorrow!