How to strengthen the immune system against allergies

Allergies and the immune system – find out more

S.A.C. Dip (Diet, Exercise & Fitness), Advanced Human Anatomy & Physiology Level 3
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13 October 2020

Allergies and the immune system - find out more

Allergies and the immune system are closely intertwined, but how much do you know about this important relationship?

To understand more about this connection, this blog answers some common questions on the topic, such as:

  • What is the immune system?
  • What happens to the immune system during an allergic reaction?
  • Are allergies a sign of a weakened immune system?
  • How can I strengthen the immune system against allergies?

Plus, watch my video on histamine-rich foods to avoid if you are an allergy sufferer.

First of all, what is the immune system?

The immune system is the body's army, if you like, and its main mission is to keep us healthy and bug-free.

The immune system is very complex (think tanks and helicopters, rather than just foot soldiers). It ranges from the hairs in your nose, to stomach acid that kills off pathogens like bacteria, to your digestive system where immune cells congregate.

If pathogens are able to get past the body's many frontline defences (e.g. skin, nasal hairs and stomach acid), an immune reaction is triggered, with immune cells attacking and killing pathogens, usually resulting in cold and flu symptoms.

Cold & flu symptoms Allergy symptoms Both
Swollen lymph nodes in the neck Itchy skin A runny or blocked nose
Fever Irritated eyes Coughing
Muscle & body aches   Fatigue
    Sore throat

What happens to the immune system during an allergic reaction?

If you are regularly brought down by allergy symptoms like coughing or sneezing then it is the immune system that is largely to blame.

These kinds of symptoms are triggered by a hypersensitive immune system that reacts to substances that would ordinarily be harmless. Mast cells, which are an important part of the immune system and help to fight infection, have a crucial part to play in this process.

This is because mast cells release histamine and other chemicals into the bloodstream when they detect an allergen. Histamine is then responsible for causing allergy symptoms such as a runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, redness on the skin, rashes, irritated skin and swelling.

To prevent the excessive activation of mast cells and the production of histamine, patients are usually treated with antihistamines.

My self-care tip: Avoid histamine-rich foods to fight allergies

As we have seen, histamine Is the cause of many allergy symptoms. You can find out more about the link between histamine and diet in this quick video.

Are allergies a sign of a weakened immune system?

Allergy symptoms indicate that the immune system is reacting out of proportion to the level of threat posed; however, it doesn't necessarily mean that it's weak. Instead, it would be more accurate to describe the immune system's reaction as abnormal.

That being said, a strong and healthy immune system can be crucial when trying to combat allergy symptoms. If your immune system is in a poor state, allergy symptoms are likely to persist for longer than usual.

Factors contributing to the development of allergies:

  • Reduced exposure to germs

  • Unhealthy gut environment

  • Poorly developed immune system

  • Increase use of anti-bacterial skin products

  • Lack of exposure to allergens in childhood.

How can I strengthen the immune system against allergies?

So, the immune system and allergies are closely intertwined and, to put your body in the best position to manage allergies, it's a good idea to look after your immune system. Here are my top snippets of advice to help you through.

Vitamin C! It's a great ally of the immune system, supporting the body's ability to produce infection-fighting white blood cells. Try a carrot and ginger soup or a blueberry and banana smoothie for the ultimate vitamin boost!

Drink water. We're often told to up our water intake because it's important for various aspects of our health, but did you know it's good for the immune system too? Good hydration may help to support communication and biochemical pathways in the immune system.

De-stress. Stress can suppress our body's immune response and the effects are known to be even more pronounced if suffering from long-term stress. Chronic stress can reduce the body's immune response by as much as 70%! Take a look at our blog on de-stressing your life from top to bottom for tips.

Assess your diet. It's long been established that a varied diet is of the utmost importance for good immune function. The key is to think colour and variation in your meal planning. A beige plate will not do much good!

Look after your digestive system. Immune cells largely reside in the gut so it makes sense to keep this place happy. Good bacteria promote a healthy digestive system. You could try a probiotic to support this.

Try a supplement. There are lots on the market but with its zinc, vitamin D and nasturtium content, Immune Support is a particularly good way to look after your immune system.

And more! Our Nutritionist Emma Thornton created a whole A-Z guide to supporting your immune system! Check out the blog here.

A.Vogel Immune Support Tablets with Vitamin D, Vitamin C and Zinc, 30 tablets

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Pollinosan Allergy Nasal Spray for runny, itchy and blocked noses due to hayfever and allergies, 20ml

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