For many, springtime means the start of little league games, gardening, or long walks with your dog. However, for at least one in four Americans it means itchy watery eyes, sneezes, runny noses, bronchial swelling, nasal congestion and a slew of other allergy related symptoms. But before you start pointing fingers at pollen, grass, weeds and molds for bringing on these maladies, take a look at your overall health and lifestyle habits that could be contributing to those symptoms.

The pollen, dust and mold are actually just harmless substances in our environment which some immune systems inappropriately target as dangerous invaders. To protect the body, certain cells are activated to fight off the invaders leading to an extreme inflammatory response and the release of a chemical called histamine into the blood stream. This immune system malfunction causes your common allergy symptoms like watery eyes, swelling and mucus production.

Amazingly, allergies are the 5th leading chronic disease in the U.S. among all ages, and the 3rd most common chronic disease among children under 18 years old. The annual cost of allergies is estimated to be nearly $7 billion. Direct costs accounted for nearly $6 billion ($5.7 billion in medications and $300 million in office visits). For adults, allergies (hay fever) is a major cause of work absenteeism resulting in nearly 4 million missed or lost workdays each year for a cost of more than $700 million in total lost productivity.

In April 2009, we talked about the antiseptic theory as it relates to the immune system and the potential for it to be a cause of allergy symptoms. You can review this material on our website in the newsletter section.

Allergies On The Rise: Genetically Modified Organisms to Blame?

The incidence of allergies has increased remarkably just since 1996–from 6% of American children 18 and under to 9% in 2003, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. All allergies seem to be on the rise, in fact, but “it’s not just that more kids have allergies,” says Dr. Marc Rothenberg, director of allergy and immunology at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. “The severity of those allergies has also increased.” Interestingly, with all the angst over peanuts, dust and pollen, the potential allergy-causing properties of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has been quietly overlooked. GM foods were introduced in the early 1990’s and there are a growing number of experts who believe that GM foods are contributing to the huge jump in food allergies in the US, especially among children.

The UK is one of the few countries that conduct a yearly food allergy evaluation. In March 1999, researchers at the York Laboratory were alarmed to discover that reactions to soy had skyrocketed by 50% over the previous year. Over 90% of worlds soy crops are genetically modified. For more information about GMO’s, the history and where they can be found, please review our January 2011 newsletter on our website.

Since GM foods have genes from other plants or animals inserted into its genetic structure, scientists and environmental and health advocates have long been concerned that this could initiate allergies in humans. An article in 2002 Journal of Anatomy however denies any direct evidence that [GMO] food may represent a possible danger for health yet they readily admit the scientific literature in this field is quite poor.

Some scientists however, say that gene modification isn’t as predictable as GMO advocates claim it is. “When inserted, genes can get disrupted, fused, mutated, or altered in unknown ways,” says Doug Gurian-Sherman, a senior scientist at the Institute for Food Safety. A study from 1999 indicated farm workers exposed to bio-engineered corn had elevated levels of proteins that were related to known allergens in their blood. These farm workers had shown higher than normal skin irritation, asthma and “rhinitus” (runny noses)—all classic allergic reactions. Studies were never repeated on those subjects to prove that the allergies were due to the GMOs or some other factor. Tests on mice that have ingested genetically modified corn found increased immune responses when compared to traditional corn.

Allergy Prevention Guide:

If you are prone to allergies consider other preventative sources:

  1. Start with clean air. HEPA Air Filters helps reduce exposure to allergens in your environment.
  2. Use antibiotics only when absolutely necessary. Antibiotics rid the gut of all bacteria (even the beneficial bacterium necessary for gut health). There is an important relationship between the gastrointestinal, respiratory and immune system.
  3. Focus on making sure you have foundational healthy eating practices in place. Refer to our newsletter “Eating Clean” from December 2009 for more information.
  4. Take a quality multiple vitamin; For help on choosing quality supplements, please refer to our December 2010 newsletter “Understanding Supplement Labels”.
  5. Vitamin C is a natural antihistamine. Consider taking 6000mg per day* as a maintenance dose.
  6. Vitamin D3 at 3000IU per day*: low vitamin D levels could increase the likelihood of children and adolescents developing both environmental and food allergies. Research has also discovered that vitamin D may be an effective therapeutic agent to treat or prevent allergy to a common mold.
  7. Omega 3 Fish Oil at 500mg per day*; Omega 3’s have an anti-inflammatory affect.
  8. Eliminate all forms of dairy consumption.
  9. If you start to develop symptoms, take Orthomolecular’s product called Natural D-Hyst at 6 per day*.

Everyone is unique. There may be some underlying deficiencies that keep your body from functioning optimally. Getting thoroughly tested can help identify these deficiencies and give you a better game plan on supplementation and lifestyle changes that will work best for you. Don’t guess about your health, schedule a nutritional consultation today.

*Dosages are based on 150lb adult. Smaller or larger people may need to alter the dosage accordingly.