Tis the season of seasonal allergies!!
While many just pop an antihistamine and go, few take a step back to recognize that chronic allergies, even if mostly triggered by weather, is one of the most classic signs of inflammation.
As odd as it may sound, sinus health is fundamental to both the neuro-respiratory and gut-brain axis. The sinuses actually have their own microbiome and that little microbiome is the frontline of defense against respiratory infections. A healthy microbiome supports the epithelial barrier in the sinuses and gut, operating as a foundational element of the innate immune system. Simply put, the sinuses’ microbiome dictates our respiratory health and is fundamental to the metabolic and immune function of the gut. If we can lower the inflammation in our gut, our sinuses will reap the benefits.
Sure, there are a number of ways to help the sinuses like breathing clean air and using a nasal rinse. However, those actions act more like a tourist, they come in for a bit but then are gone shortly after their stay. If the root issue (inflammation) is not addressed, we will continue to experience symptoms.
In a world where inflammation-causing obstacles seem to be everywhere we turn, the one thing that remains constant for survival is our nutrition intake- thus making food the most powerful combat weapon of all. Lucky for us, it also happens to be the tool that we have the most control over!
Now that many of us are in the trenches, battling seasonal allergies, there is no better time to fight inflammation. Let’s start by making a few tweaks at the kitchen table.
Here are the top 7 food categories to limit or avoid when it comes to inflammation:
- Processed/Refined Sugar like High Fructose Corn Syrup- Why? Digests quickly leading to blood sugar spikes. Also contains high fructose to glucose ratio which can contribute to inflammation-based conditions like fatty liver.
- Processed Soy- Why? While non-processed, organic soy can be very beneficial to human health, overly processed soy tends to be much higher in sodium and less in vitamins and minerals. A few studies on rats suggest the processed form of soy can hinder thyroid and hormone function.
- Vegetable Oil like Sunflower and Canola Oil- Why? Vegetable oils (especially those that are hydrogenated = trans fat) cause inflammation in the body, particularly when heated. Heating causes oxidation and oxidation can damage our cells.
- Artificial Sweeteners- Why? Our body struggles to digest artificial ingredients. The body sees these particles as foreign and begins to attack. This results in inflammation.
- Food Dye- Why? Artificial dyes contain small molecules that are able to attach to proteins in our body which can trigger the inflammatory cascade.
- Gluten- Why? While each individual is biologically unique, many struggle to tolerate gluten without even realizing that it is a problem. The gluten content in basic foods today like bread and pasta is significantly higher than it was years ago. Additionally, chemicals such as glyphosate are sprayed in abundance on wheat.
- Dairy- Why? As mentioned, it is always best to listen to your body. However, for many of us, when genetics and gut health are combined with the poor quality living conditions of feedlot cows, and the processing of their milk, we may experience an immune reaction to cow's milk-based products, thus encouraging inflammation in the body.