It’s natural to be concerned when first receiving an allergy diagnosis. Once identified, your doctor will encourage you to avoid your trigger substances as much as possible.
If you have a food allergy then you will likely need to make certain changes to your diet.
The best counter for allergies is trigger avoidance. So, if you know that you react badly to peanuts, for instance, you should absolutely cut them out of your diet entirely.
However, those living with allergies not necessarily triggered by food may also want to think about making some changes to what they eat.
Lots of allergy symptoms are caused by the release of the chemical known as histamine. There are certain foods that contain increased levels of histamine which can ultimately worsen symptoms. Foods thought to induce the release of excess histamine include citrus fruit, tomatoes, fish, pork and spices.
If you establish a link between a particular food type and your allergy symptoms then you may wish to exclude it from your diet. It is best practice to speak to your doctor before making any significant changes to your diet.
The Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet is often heralded as one of the best and healthiest in the world. Dishes and snacks comprise of fresh vegetables, fruit, nuts, fish and small amounts of red meat.
Over the years various studies have suggested that following this style of diet can combat numerous ailments including high blood pressure, obesity and coronary heart disease.
Further to this, the mediterranean diet is also thought to provide some protection against eczema, food allergy and asthma. More research is needed in order to establish in which situations the diet is most effective at offering allergy protection (such as in during pregnancy or breastfeeding).
Recent studies have been looking into the benefits of probiotics as a treatment for some allergies. Maintaining good digestive health can help strengthen your immune system although it is not entirely clear how the two components work together.
Some food retailers have produced items containing ‘good’ bacteria, however the science behind these so-called probiotic food products is not entirely confirmed. According to Harvard University a direct link between the consumption of probiotic products and improved immune health is yet to be established.
If you are thinking about making dietary changes in order to improve your allergy symptoms you should speak to your doctor first. They will be able to provide advice or refer you to a specialist so that you are fully informed before you cut out any foods.
As a rule of thumb eating a varied and well-balanced diet which consists of items from all of the main food groups should help to keep you healthy.
Taking part in regular exercise and remaining active is important for those with allergies. Depending on the nature of your allergy you may have to make certain modifications to your workout to reduce the likelihood of it triggering your symptoms.
Many people with allergies experience some form of respiratory reaction such as: a runny nose; constricted airways; chest tightness; or wheezing. These types of reactions can sometimes be worsened by heavy breathing.
During exercise we tend to switch our breathing from our nose to our mouth. This can prove problematic as our nose acts as a natural air filter and also warms the air before it hits our respiratory tract.
Breathing through the mouth also means that potential allergens are inhaled deep into the respiratory system.
There are some steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of an allergic reaction:
- Warm up.
- If necessary, take your medication prior to commencing exercise.
- Check the weather, pollen count and pollution levels.
- Be properly equipped. Wear suitable clothing and take necessary medication with you such as reliever inhalers and EpiPen devices.
- Inform exercise instructors of your allergy before taking part.
If you have had a bad experience in the past where exercising has exacerbated your allergy symptoms then you may want to start with light exercise in a safe environment.
People diagnosed with exercised-induced allergy (EIA) are still encouraged to exercise but they might be advised to choose a less intense workout. It is thought that jogging is the worst culprit when it comes to EIA.
Swimming in a heated pool is a good full body exercise and the warm, moist air can help reduce the likelihood of a respiratory reaction.
You may have to try a variety of exercises before you find one which suits your allergy and ability.
If you come across a particular activity which causes you to have a bad reaction then think about what could have triggered your reaction:
- What was the weather like?
- What time of day was it?
- Was there a high pollen count?
By asking yourself these questions you might be able to establish a pattern that you can avoid in future so you can enjoy exercising safely.
A combination of regular exercise and balanced eating will help you to achieve and maintain a healthy body mass index (BMI).
This is important for everyone, not just those who have allergies; as some studies have suggested that, as well as leading to high blood pressure and other cardiovascular conditions, obesity can increase the likelihood of certain allergies, particularly in children.
If you are concerned that your allergies are impeding on your lifestyle or that of your child, you should speak to your doctor or allergy specialist.
There are various medications available to improve symptoms and reduce reactions. But attitude plays a big part too. Through a combination of medications and making healthy, positive choices, most people with allergies enjoy a full and rewarding lifestyle.