Combatting Allergies

Leslea had struggled with respiratory allergies since she was a little girl. She always seemed to have a stuffy nose: in spring and summer from certain types of pollinating weeds, and the rest of the year from dust and feathers (from her feather pillow). She was tested by the family doctor to confirm these were symptoms of an inflammatory response that released histamine and created mucus and swelling in her nasal

In her early 20s, she had started taking over-the-counter anti-allergy medication that combined an antihistamine and decongestant (containing pseudoephedrine) that she took every 12 hours, in morning and before bed. After a couple of years, she noticed that her hands would begin to tremble soon after she took the medicine. She often felt nervous, dizzy and anxious, which she thought were just her personality — since she had moved into her own apartment thousands of kilometers from home. She would get skin rashes that she concluded must be from intolerances to certain foods.

It wasn’t until she had been taking the medicine for eight years that she read the list of common side effects, and a light went on. She immediately stopped taking the drugs. She suddenly started noticing tingling and flushing on her face and neck, especially at night, and worried she was going through premature menopause in her late 20s! Then she read that this – like the anxiousness – was also a side effect of the antihistamine-decongestant, and the flushing ended in a couple of days.

Within six months, the nervousness, dizziness and anxiety disappeared — but she still had her allergy symptoms. Leslea started researching them and found out that a weakened immune system causes the hypersensitive response in her respiratory tract. She vowed to learn about nutrition and change her diet.

Leslea’s Tips:

  1. She stopped eating all white flour (switching to whole grains) and the candy that were daily staples, learning that these depress the immune system.
  2. She started one-day-long cleansing juice fasts that she did once every two weeks, which gave her lots of energy. These were done for three months.
  3. She began eating raw fruits and/or vegetables along with every meal.
  4. She consulted a nutritionist who told her that her new changes were on track, but that she wasn’t eating enough protein, and that dairy, which had become one of her favourite food groups, can cause mucus.
  5. Leslea started eating more fish (for its good fats), beans and lentils (for their fibre since she had often felt constipated in the past), and stopped eating all dairy foods.

    She made a few practical changes: cleaning the dust from her bedroom every week; changing her pillow from a feather to foam one; laundering her pillowcase each week to remove dust mites; and opening the window slightly at night to get fresh air circulating.

    Now in her early 30s, Leslea has no nasal allergy symptoms or skin rashes; she has far more energy, and feels that the allergy symptoms were a “gift” that motivated her toward a healthy lifestyle.

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