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Food Sensitivities and Environmental Allergens
Inflammation is the body’s normal immune response to injury or infection. When you are cut or bruised, you can see and feel the inflammation and its signs of redness, swelling, and pain. Inflammation also occurs inside the body, and the immune response can be destructive when it targets the body’s own tissues (as in auto-immune diseases).
I first started learning about the role of inflammation when I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease, an auto-immune version of hypothyroidism. This was just a year or so after my fibroid diagnosis, and helped me re-commit to better habits in terms of lifestyle, diet, stress, and exposure to environmental toxins.
Along with giving up processed foods and eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, I became much more aware of the kinds of fats I was consuming with the goal of balancing the omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9 fatty acids in my diet. I buy organic ghee and butter made from grass-fed cows from my local farmer and take this Pro-Omega supplement by Nordic Naturals. I also order wild-caught salmon from Alaska through my local food club. I also gave up canola oil, which many sources will say are better for you, but which are always rancid or oxidized and will only add to inflammation. My most recent blood work showed a terrific balance of fatty acids, so I feel that I am on a good path.
Gluten is a complex of proteins found in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye. In persons with Celiac Disease, it triggers inflammation in the small intestine, damaging the ability to absorb nutrients, and leading to abdominal pain and bloating. But what if you don’t have Celiac Disease? I was tested for it and do not have it, but I always had a nagging feeling about the effect of gluten on my body. I LOVE bread. I even used to bake my own long-fermented Parisian sourdough on a regular basis. I thought that the fermentation process might help pre-digest the gluten, thus allowing me to continue eating bread. I was also aware of the criticism of people going gluten-free just for the sake of it and the fact that the medical community and nutritionists are divided on whether gluten sensitivity is a real issue.
The more I read about the links between gluten and the thyroid, however, I decided that even as much as I love bread, I love myself more and doing a gluten-free trial was worth my time. That was on May 25, 2015. I went gluten-free and have never re-considered that decision. Within a month, my skin looked better, I had more energy, and the near-constant bloating I suffered had disappeared. Since that time I have had accidental exposure to gluten on a few occasions. Each time my belly swells up with discomfort, confirming for me that gluten sensitivity is in fact real.
Most importantly, a few months ago, blood work revealed that I no longer had antibodies in my blood that would indicated Hashimoto’s disease! I’m not exactly sure how I reversed this, but attribute it to the overall changes I have made in diet, stress, and exposure to environmental toxins.
About a year ago after an epic allergy response while cleaning out some closet space, I decided to visit an allergist. I had a panel of allergy tests done for environmental allergies, and the results confirmed what I had always suspected. I have a severe allergy to dust mites, mold, tress, and grasses. Yuck. I was not willing to take allergy shots for the next five years (the whole methodology I find unsettling), I instead turned toward protective measures. I was pleased to know that the wool bedding I was using was a natural way to guard against dust mites. I then purchased some 100% cotton dust mite protective covers for my pillows and a mask I can wear when cleaning or organizing. Lastly, I bought two of these Hamilton Beach air filters to help trap dust and dander from my dog. He’s supposed to be hypo-allergenic, but the doctor says that I’m still allergic to him….and cats too.
What natural ways do you use to help with allergies?