Summer is finally here! Warm weather, luscious green plants and bright blue skies are a much-awaited change after the winter we have had. In true Alberta fashion, the transition from winter to summer happened overnight. Unless of course you suffer from seasonal allergies and this change was prolonged and brought along pain and suffering. The sneezing, wheezing, runny nose, itchy, watery red eyes and headaches are all common with seasonal allergies.
Allergies are your immune system responding to something it considers foreign in your body. Seasonal allergies to pollen (hay fever), spores and molds can affect the respiratory system and cause the typical symptoms listed above. However, if the allergen is something you’re constantly exposed to then, the allergies can last all year long.
From a Naturopathic Medicine perspective, allergies are associated with a weak immune system, poor digestive system and weak adrenals. Our digestive system has a large part of our immune system located within it and hence the relationship of allergies with the digestive system.
From a treatment perspective the goals are to improve the digestive system and ensure proper functioning, strengthen the immune system and replenish the adrenals. It is ideal that treatment for seasonal allergies starts 1-2 months prior to help strengthen the immune system and decrease the severity of the symptoms. There is no single magic cure because each persons seasonal allergies are due to a combination of the above 3 factors so the treatment has to be individualized for it to be effective.
Good health can drastically decrease allergy symptoms and the most important foundation for good health is proper and healthy nutrition. A well balanced diet should be consumed especially removing all known food allergens. Hydration is key and one should drink half their body weight in ounces each day in water (e.g. A 160 lb. person should drink 80 oz. or 10 cups a day). It is also important to limit the intake of refined sugars, processed foods and refined foods. A very gentle detox can help decrease symptoms as it aids the body in removal of toxic substances from the entire body.
Exercise natural boosts the immune system so regular exercise can go a ways to help decrease your symptoms. Stress can play a role in allergies in some people so it is important to have healthy stress relief methods. Exercise is great for this as well.
Overall, the natural approach to allergies consists of a whole body approach and uses a combination of lifestyle, dietary and botanical approaches.
Sugar is 8 times as addictive as cocaine! The average Canadian consumes 26 teaspoons of sugar daily or 40 kilograms a year! Refined sugar leads to long-term malnutrition, deficiencies, obesity, digestive problems, PMS, recurrent infections, Candida, hyperactivity, fatigue, ADHD, anxiety, diabetes, heart disease and Cancer.
Sugar activates the brain’s reward system making it addictive. Research has shown higher sugar levels increase your chances of dementia even if you do not develop diabetes. Refined sugars are mostly converted into fat because they do not stimulate your hunger hormone, which leads to overeating since your full response is not activated.
As the weather gets warmer think twice before you reach for your favorite drinks. A 591ml bottle of Coca Cola has 70g of sugar; a 16oz can of Rockstar energy drink has 64 g of sugar. A medium iced coffee at McDonald’s has 22g of sugar and that “healthy” bottle of Minute Maid’s lemonade contains 52 g of sugar.
The “sugar-free” artificial sweeteners are worse for you than sugar itself. They promote hunger and increase your appetite so you end up eating more, which is counterproductive when you’re trying to lose weight. Research has found that these artificial sweeteners still cause high insulin levels in the blood, which in turn promotes the body to store body fat. Refined sugars also stimulate appetite as they lack nutrients. Headaches, weight gain, increased cravings, GI problems, liver and kidney toxicity are some other problems associated with these.
Refined sugars include corn syrup, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, dextrose and artificial sweeteners with sucralose, saccharine and aspartame.
Quitting sugar is not easy and requires a multi level approach through a combination of dietary changes, detoxifying and herbal support. Natural sugar options in moderation include honey, maple syrup, stevia and agave nectar. Healthy snack alternatives include fruit, brown rice cakes, mixed nuts, seeds, vegetables, hummus and protein smoothies. Rather than replacing one form of sugar with another, the goal is to decrease the amount of sugar you consume.
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine in Okotoks and Calgary.
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113 - 109 Southbank Blvd
Okotoks AB T1S 0G1
Phone: 403 938 1138
Fax: 403 982 2114