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• Discover which supplements can support your immune system and provide essential nutrients to help you conquer allergies.
• Probiotics, quercetin, vitamin C, D & omega-3 are all beneficial for allergy sufferers.
• A good multivitamin can ensure essential nutrients for overall health and immunity.

Whether its summer pollen or your neighbour’s dog that has your immune system on alert, allergies for many can negatively impact daily life and energy.  It requires immense energy by the body to respond to an allergen and for those with chronic allergies, the regular immune activation can leave you feeling zapped. The good news is, there is plenty you can do to naturally support your immune system and how it responds to allergies, this article will explore the best supplements for allergies.

What is an Allergy?

An allergy is when your immune system reacts adversely to something either internally e.g. specific foods like peanuts, gluten, dairy or externally e.g. pollen, dog hair, etc.  Symptoms can range from mild such as itching, hives, sneezing, digestive discomfort to severe as with anaphylaxis.

With allergies, for example in hay fever, pollen (the allergen) enters the body through the skin, respiratory tract, or gastrointestinal tract. This triggers your innate immune system to activate mast cells which releases histamine. Histamine gets to action by increasing blood capillary permeability, allowing white blood cells and proteins to attack the pathogens. This response of the body can lead to swelling, irritation, and classic allergy symptoms like sneezing, itching, and runny eyes. This is why many medications target histamine for quick symptom relief.

The impact of allergies on your immune system

If you suffer with allergies, your immune system may be continuously stimulated by irritants and primed for attack. With repeated exposure, this can mean your immune system becomes “over-reactive”, initiating bigger responses to what should be a harmless substance like pollen, dog hair etc. Over time and with chronic exposure this may pose challenges for your overall health and wellbeing. Several studies have looked at the connection between allergies and autoimmune diseases. A 2019 cohort study found that autoimmune diseases “are significantly higher in patients with an underlying allergic disease” 1, making supporting your immune system an essential lifestyle consideration for long-term health.

Best supplements for allergens

The best supplements for allergies are the ones that help to modulate your immune system’s response, support your microbiome (70% of your immune system lives here) and provide your body with nutrients to support your well-being and reserves so you do not end up depleted.

Gut and immune support

Probiotics

Your immune system has various branches which respond to different “intruders” in specific ways. With allergies the main branch of your immune system that gets activated is your T-Helper 2 cells. Th2 cells drive the allergic response by promoting the production of IgE antibodies. IgE antibodies along with the activation of other immune cells contribute to the characterizing symptoms of allergies for example as seen in hay fever, such as sneezing, runny nose and itchy eyes.  A 2018 study found that IgE levels and nasal symptoms in hay fever were significantly reduced in vivo using probiotics strains like Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus and concluded that the gut microbiota may be an effective way to treat Allergic Rhinitis 2.

Epithelial and mucosal support

A study in 2018 found that inflammation driven by mast cells and Th2 cells can impact the integrity of the epithelial barrier (3), the thin layer of cells that covers your skin, lungs and intestines and plays a role in protecting you from harmful substances. Making supporting your microbiome and intestinal barrier an important consideration in supporting symptoms of allergies.

Akkermansia

Specific probiotics like Akkermansia muciniphila, have been studied for their role in protecting the mucus layer which covers the intestinal epithelium.  Akkermansia muciniphila uses mucin (a key component of mucous) as its source of nutrition, which then stimulates more mucin production. This continuous renewing of the mucus layer helps protect the gut barrier from damage and prevent pathogenic invasion.

Glutamine

Glutamine is a source of energy for epithelial cells, which line the nasal, respiratory and gastrointestinal tract. It promotes the regeneration of these cells, which act as a line of defence for your body.

Immune modulation

Quercetin and vitamin C

Quercetin, a naturally occurring polyphenol abundant in various fruits and vegetables, has received significant attention in relation to allergies, in particular hay fever, and for good reason. It helps to stabilize mast cells, reducing their hyperactivity and inhibiting their release of histamine and other inflammatory mediators, which can help alleviate hay fever symptoms, as hay fever often involves excessive immune responses 4.

Due to quercetin’s polyphenol content, it is a natural antioxidant, which protects the cells from oxidative damage, which can be exacerbated in hay fever. Interestingly when combined with vitamin C, quercetin has been found to increase the absorption of vitamin C, while synergistically the ascorbate in vitamin C helps to recycle quercetin, providing extra antioxidant and immune support.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D plays a huge role in supporting overall immune health. It improves the immune response, helping white blood cells to recognise, bind to and destroy pathogens, ensuring immune cells operate at their best.   Vitamin D status may impact the severity of symptoms associated with allergies. Vitamin D levels have been examined and compared between hay fever sufferers and those who do not suffer with hay fever.  While vitamin D was not found to reduce symptoms specific to hay fever, it was found that those with low vitamin D status had worse hay fever symptoms 5.  Low levels of vitamin D has also been associated with increased asthma risk as well as increased allergies to food 6.

Inflammation support

Omega-3

Inflammation is synonymous with allergies. The frequent irritation of the epithelial lining of the nostrils, respiratory and gastrointestinal systems along with the regular activation of the immune system has an inflammatory effect on the body. Omega-3 is well documented for its anti-inflammatory benefits. Adding omega-3 to your immune support toolkit can help boost your body’s natural anti-inflammatory defences.

General Well-being

Multivitamin and Mineral

Allergens can be exhausting, depleting your body of essential nutrients that are not only required for immunity but the health of other systems in the body like thyroid health, gut health etc. Adding a good quality multivitamin can ensure you stay topped up in essential vitamins for immune health e.g zinc, selenium, iron, copper, vitamin C, vitamin D.

While allergies can be a significant burden on one’s body, understanding and supporting the immune system naturally can make a substantial difference. If you have any questions regarding the above, please email our advice line on [email protected]

References:
1. Krishna MT, Subramanian A, Adderley NJ, et al. Allergic diseases and long-term risk of autoimmune disorders: longitudinal cohort study and cluster analysis. Eur Respir J 2019; 54: 1900476 [https://doi.org/10.1183/13993003.00476-2019].
2. Kim WG, Kang GD, Kim HI, Han MJ, Kim DH. Bifidobacteriumlongum IM55 and Lactobacillus plantarum IM76 alleviate allergic rhinitis in mice by restoring Th2/Treg imbalance and gut microbiota disturbance. Benef Microbes. (2019) 10:55–67. doi: 10.3920/BM2017.0146
3. Steelant B, Seys SF, Gerven LV, Woensel MV, Farre R, Wawrzyniak P, et al. Histamine and T helper cytokine-driven epithelial barrier dysfunction in allergic rhinitis. J Allergy Clin Immunol. (2018)141:951–63.e8. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2017.08.039
4. Jafarinia, M., Hosseini, M.S., Kasiri, N., Fazel, N., Fathi, F., Hashemzadeh, A., Aflatoonian, M. and Ghaderi, A., 2020. Quercetin with the potential effect on allergic diseases. Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology, [online] 16(1). Available at: https://aacijournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13223-020-00434-0
5. Sikorska-Szaflik, H. and Sozańska, B., 2020. The Role of Vitamin D in Respiratory Allergies Prevention. Why the Effect Is so Difficult to Disentangle? Nutrients, [online] 12(6), p.1801
6. Gaudet, M., Plesa, M., Mogas, A., Jalaleddine, N., Hamid, Q. and Al Heialy, S., 2022. Recent advances in vitamin D implications in chronic respiratory diseases. Respiratory Research, 23(1), Article number: 252.

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