Today’s post is about some of our favorite natural and holistic ways to protect yourself from seasonal allergies. Spring is in full bloom and it’s time to support our bodies as we battle our triggers.
Let’s jump right in!
Tip #1: Good Nutrition & Regular Exercise
One of the proactive steps you can take to keep from suffering from intense episodes of allergies (as well as a slew of other illnesses or diseases) is to simply eat healthy and exercise on a regular basis. We know that’s a lot easier said than done, but it couldn’t be more true. Our bodies are incredibly smart and able to respond to the environment, so it is important to surround our bodies with an environment and exposures that will allow it to thrive and flourish. If we eat foods that are full of essential vitamins and minerals, our bodies and immune systems are then able to utilize those nutrients to become stronger and fight off disease. Poor diet choices and inactivity force your body to work overtime and function in a state where it must “fight off” the toxins that accompany a sedentary, junk food-filled lifestyle.
If you’re still working to transition into a healthier diet and lifestyle, there are several food products that can be consumed in larger quantities in the short term to help boost the activity of your immune system. Two of our favorite go-to’s are zinc and local honey.
People commonly think of vitamin C as the primary nutrient that you need when you’re sick. However, zinc actually plays a larger role when it comes to boosting overall immunity. Zinc helps to maintain the structural integrity of your body’s cells so that they are better able to function. While taking a zinc supplement would probably work, your body is going to absorb more of the mineral when it comes in its natural form – from a food source, rather than a factory made product.
Foods high in zinc: Spinach and other dark leafy green vegetables, cashews, mushrooms, garbanzo beans and pumpkin seeds.
Another common food product that is known to help with seasonal allergies is local honey. It all comes down to the science within our bodies. When we experience an allergic reaction, it’s because our bodies are exposed to things like pollen or pet dander (i.e. allergens) that our bodies mistakenly recognize as foreign. Because our bodies are crazy smart, they produce immune or inflammatory reactions in order to “fight off” these foreign invaders to help keep us alive and well. It is common for people to become less sensitive to allergens as they age. It has also been shown that, when a person experiences a very mild allergic reaction or immune response, repeated exposure to the allergen may cause a decrease in that person’s sensitivity over time. In other words, the more you are exposed to something, the less likely your body is going to react to it in an adverse way (which you can thank your memory cells for!)
By consuming honey that has been made locally, you are actually consuming the local pollen and, therefore, are preparing your body for the “threat” (allergen) that it may later encounter.
Pretty cool, huh?!
Regular exercise is a great boost to your immune system. As you work out, your body temperature increases. This change in temperature allows your body to fight off bacteria and provide an environment that makes it harder for bacteria to settle down and grow. As you’ve surely experienced, exercise also increases your breathing rate. The faster exchange of air functions as a way to flush bacteria and other invaders from your lungs and airways. Last, regular exercise allows your body’s supply of white blood cells (the cells that are responsible for fighting off infections) to increase.
Tip #2: Essential Oils
I’m sure by now that you have all heard something about essential oils, as they’re all the rage. If you’re not familiar, essential oils are naturally derived plant oils that can be used in order to help stimulate your body and its underlying processes or functions. We use essential oils just about every day, whether as an air freshener for our room, for relief from migraines or indigestion, or as a memory aid while we're working. There are thousands of essential oils – from single scents to combinations of scents. Essential oils can be used in a couple different ways: through a diffuser or topically (directly on the skin or even through wooden beaded bracelets.) The diffuser is a nice option, as it also keeps moisture in the air while diffusing the oil. If you have sensitive skin, take caution when using essential oils topically! You may want to dilute the oil in a basic lotion or carrier oil before applying to your skin. Whether the oil is inhaled through the air or is applied through your skin, it makes its way into your blood. The oil travels to different parts of your body to carry out different functions, based on the different components of the oils. Listed below are some of the common essential oils that may help with allergy relief:
Peppermint — clears/unclogs sinuses; relieves itchy and scratchy throats
Basil — detoxifies the body; fights inflammation
Eucalyptus — opens lungs and sinuses (kind of like a natural version of Vick’s vapor rub)
Lemon — lymphatic drainage (clears out the body’s toxins)
Tea Tree Oil — kills airborne pathogens; has anti-inflammatory effects
*** Warning: Use caution when diffusing and using essential oils around pets, as some can be toxic to animals. I’ve included a list below that are known to be toxic to household pets. However, it is always a good idea to check with a certified veterinarian prior to use around your sweet pets. ***
Some essential oils known to be harmful to pets:
Dogs – Tea Tree Oil, Anise, Clove, Garlic, Horseradish, Juniper, Thyme, Wintergreen, Yarrow
Cats – Tea Tree Oil, Cinnamon, Thyme, Wintergreen, Birch, Clove, Oregano
Essential oils can be found in some grocery stores and online. A few of our favorite brands include DoTerra, Young Living and Woolzies!
Tip #3 – Sleep!
I’m sure this tip can speak for itself. We all know how much better we feel and function when we’ve had a good night’s sleep. While the actual amount of sleep needed each night may differ from person to person, our bodies function more optimally when we are well-rested. Sleep allows for your organs and cells to be in a resting state and replenish their energy stores so that they are better prepared to function throughout the day. Life gets busy and it seems like there’s never enough time in a day. However, sleep needs to be one of those things that we prioritize, even if that means a few episodes less on Netflix each night!
Tip #4: Hydration
Just like when we have the flu or a cold, hydration is key! We will be writing a separate post dedicated to proper hydration, but drinking plenty of water and fluids is critical, especially when are our immune systems are already low and struggling. Not only does every cell, organ and tissue in our body need water to survive, but drinking water helps to flush out the toxins inside your body.
Tip #5: Get Adjusted Regularly
You can bet that there will several more posts on chiropractic – what it is and why it’s important. It is important to know that chiropractic is about more than helping to relieve headaches, neck pain and back pain. Getting adjusted on a regular basis can help keep you healthy in so many ways! When your spine is aligned and your nervous system is in check, your body is in it’s best capacity to adapt to stress, fight off disease and maintain an optimal state of health and well-being. Proper alignment allows your body to work with itself to keep you healthy and feeling well.
While some of these tips are simple and may seem basic, they are some of the best natural ways to ensure that you stay feeling good throughout this allergy season.