Allergies and Diet, What’s the Connection?
We all know that our immune system follows defensive mechanisms to protects us from aliments. But do we know that our body, as host can be harmed for housing the immune system? "Allergy" is such an example of immune system reaction. According to von Pirquet (1906), who derived the term allergy, which is derived from Greek words allos means ‘other or different’ and ergia i.e. ‘energy or action’, which stands for a ‘change in reactivity or capacity to react’. 
What is Allergy?
The hypersensitivity of immune system, towards exposure of the body to certain substance (allergen) causes antibodies production or cellular modification, which induce an individual-specific reaction to the substance and provide different symptoms. This reaction is termed as allergy. 
Types of Allergy
The symptoms differ depending upon the allergen and allergy. Broadly, allergy is classified into following:
There are eight selected food items which cause 90% of food allergy, like, egg, milk, peanut, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat and soy. The allergic reaction vary from individual to individual. Some may have gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting, stomach ache etc, some may have skin reactions like itching, rashes or hives and some may have respiratory symptoms like repetitive cough, breathing difficulty, wheezing, etc. 
Dust particles are combination of multiple allergens, which includes dust mites, mould, pollen etc. and often provide different upper respiratory related symptoms, which include sneezing, red, teary and itchy eyes, runny nose, chest tightness, wheezing, shortness of breathing and frequent coughing. 
Usually in spring season when plants pollinate and temperature starts to fall are considered as an allergy season. Most of the hypersensitive individuals have allergic symptoms during then. In mild cases the symptoms are restricted to only upper respiratory tract (same as dust allergy), but in severe case it triggers asthmatic attack. 
Certain drugs like penicillin, sulfonamides or related antibiotics, anticonvulsants, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and chemotherapeutic agent may cause allergy. However, individual and drug specific allergic reaction may involve gastro-intestinal symptoms, respiratory symptoms or skin related symptoms and in severe condition anaphylactic shock, which impairs breathing. 
Etiology of Allergic Reaction
The onset of allergic reaction is very fast which is mediated by IgE immunoglobulin production, that binds to high-affinity FcεRI receptor present on the surface of mast cells. The mast cell activation alerts immune system and secretes histamine. The histamine secretion leads to tissue destruction. The alertness of immune system activates eosinophils (a type of white blood cells) which induces production of different inflammatory mediators, such as prostaglandins, leukotrienes, and cytokines. Altogether, histamine, prostaglandins and other inflammatory mediators causes vascular permeability enhancement, smooth muscle contraction and Inflammation. 
Diet and its impact on improving allergy
According to Dr. Leonard Bielory, the chairman of the integrative medicine committee for the ACAAI (American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology) and a professor of Rutgers University, consumption of healthy diet assists in controlling disorders like allergic reactions.  It has been recently identified that stress level exacerbates allergic reaction as it increases eosinophils level. The dietary measures can certainly suppress stress induce free radical formation and act against immunological changes which trigger allergy. Following are certain dietary components, which have potential to alter allergic reactions.
The preliminary clinical research provides the evidence that vitamin C has potency to detoxify histamine and may provide anti-histaminic effect.  Therefore, it is expected that Vitamin C can control allergic reaction. It is also proved that vitamin C intake can improve lungs functionality  and this could provide beneficial result in controlling asthma exacerbation and reduce breathing difficulty, which is most common in seasonal allergy. The recent clinical trial data shows that fruits rich in vitamin C can prevent asthma, particularly for school going children.  The proper dosing of vitamin C is also effective to prevent allergic rhinitis. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and bronchodilator, and these properties altogether provide anti-allergic effect. 
Acidophilus is a specific type of probiotic bacteria which may have the potential to induce Th1-type immunity and can augment the effect of regulatory lymphocyte and thus, provide anti-allergic effect. Animal study showed that administration of acidophilus had suppressed the IgE synthesis and eosinophil level.  In addition, acidophilus also boost immunity by regulating both T1 and T2 helper cells (type of white blood cells).  Acidophilus is effective in treatment of skin allergy and food allergy, especially for children who have cow milk allergy.  Moreover, human study report showed that acidophilus-rich yoghurt is capable to enhance interferon gamma.  This phenomena is effective to treat or prevent airway allergic symptoms, as interferon gamma enhancement subsequently decrease eosinophils level and mucous secretion.  In another clinical trial, it has been shown that patients with allergic rhinitis get symptomatic relief through oral administration of acidophilus. 
Omega 3 fatty acids like DHA and EPA has anti-inflammatory effect. In-vitro allergy research showed, both DHA and EPA supplementation provides anti-allergic effect. Therefore, omega 3 fatty acids are considered as natural anti-allergic agent.  In 2016, Royal Collage Of Obstetrician & Gynecologists published an article with information stating that Omega 3 fatty acid supplementation during pregnancy and lactation provides beneficial effect against childhood allergy. 
Grape seed extract is an abundant source of flavonoids (a plant pigment), which has anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic activities.  Flavonoid-rich grape seeds can inhibit allergy related skin problems, including eczema.  Grape seed extract suppress immune related response, the major cause of anti-allergic effect.  It is also assumed that anti-allergic effect of grape seed is due to its anti-histaminic effect.  Therefore, grape seed is also have potential effect against allergy due to its multi-variant functions.
An appropriate diet of exact quantity can prove adequate to heal from many chronic disorders; allergy is one of it. This is the basis behind our ancestral remedies which are mostly derived from the edible agents which are typically obtained from nature. The most of the dietary components can promote hormesis, which result to a biological phenomenon that improves most health situations, the ability towards stress tolerance due to adequate or potent dose which otherwise in excess dose can result to toxic or can result to life threatening effect.
Don't Miss Out!
Sign up now to receive our offers, news and weekly articles right to your inbox!
- Igea JM. The history of the idea of allergy. Allergy 2013; 68: 966–973. Retrieve from http://www.eaaci.org/documents/The-history-of-the-idea-of-allergy.pdf
- Food Allergy, American College Of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology; Retrieve from http://acaai.org/allergies/types/food-allergy
- Dust Allergy; American College Of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology; Retrieve from http://acaai.org/allergies/types/dust-allergy
- Seasonal Allergies; American College Of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology; Retrieve from http://acaai.org/allergies/seasonal-allergies
- Drug Allergies; American College Of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology; Retrieve from http://acaai.org/allergies/types/drug-allergies
- Janeway CA Jr, Travers P, Walport M, et al. Immunobiology: The Immune System in Health and Disease. 5th edition. New York: Garland Science; 2001. Effector mechanisms in allergic reactions. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK27112/
- Christine Dreher; Dietary & Nutritional Support for Allergies; Retrieve from http://www.transformyourhealth.com/articles/articlesmisc/articledietarynutritionalsupportallergies.htm
- Ninabahen D. Dave, Lianbin Xiang, Kristina E. Rehm, Gailen D. Marshall, Jr.; Stress and Allergic Diseases; Immunol Allergy Clin North Am. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2012 Feb 1. Published in final edited form as: Immunol Allergy Clin North Am. 2011 Feb; 31(1): 55–68. doi: 10.1016/j.iac.2010.09.009; Retrieve from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3264048/
- Johnston CS, Martin LJ, Cai X.; Antihistamine effect of supplemental ascorbic acid and neutrophil chemotaxis; J Am Coll Nutr. 1992 Apr;11(2):172-6; Retrieve from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1578094
- Milan SJ, Hart A, Wilkinson M.; Vitamin C for asthma and exercise-induced bronchoconstriction; Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Oct 23;(10):CD010391. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD010391.pub2; Retrieve from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24154977
- Danielle Saadeh, Pascale Salameh, Denis Caillaud, Denis Charpin, Frédéric De Blay, Christine Kopferschmitt, François Lavaud, Isabella Annesi-Maesano, Isabelle Baldi, Chantal Raherison; Prevalence and association of asthma and allergic sensitization with dietary factors in schoolchildren: data from the french six cities study; BMC Public Health. 2015; 15: 993. Published online 2015 Sep 30. doi: 10.1186/s12889-015-2320-2; Retrieve from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4589972/
- IVANA SABOLI] PIPINI] JELENA MACAN BO@ICA KANCELJAK-MACAN; Significance of nutrition in respiratory allergic diseases: a review of scientific knowledge; Period biol, Vol 111, No 1, 2009.
- Kim JY, Choi YO, Ji GE.; Effect of oral probiotics (Bifidobacterium lactis AD011 and Lactobacillus acidophilus AD031) administration on ovalbumin-induced food allergy mouse model; J Microbiol Biotechnol. 2008 Aug;18(8):1393-400; Retrieve from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18756099
- Torii A, Torii S, Fujiwara S, Tanaka H, Inagaki N, Nagai H.; Lactobacillus Acidophilus strain L-92 regulates the production of Th1 cytokine as well as Th2 cytokines; Allergol Int. 2007 Sep;56(3):293-301. Epub 2007 Aug 1; Retrieve from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17646735
- Ö Özdemir; Various effects of different probiotic strains in allergic disorders: an update from laboratory and clinical data; Clin Exp Immunol. 2010 Jun; 160(3): 295–304. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2249.2010.04109.x; Retrieve from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2883099/
- Wheeler JG, Shema SJ, Bogle ML, Shirrell MA, Burks AW, Pittler A, Helm RM.; Immune and clinical impact of Lactobacillus acidophilus on asthma; Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 1997 Sep;79(3):229-33; Retrieve from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9305229
- Cohn L, Homer RJ, Niu N, Bottomly K.; T helper 1 cells and interferon gamma regulate allergic airway inflammation and mucus production; J Exp Med. 1999 Nov 1;190(9):1309-18; Retrieve from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10544202
- Ishida Y, Nakamura F, Kanzato H, Sawada D, Hirata H, Nishimura A, Kajimoto O, Fujiwara S.; Clinical effects of Lactobacillus acidophilus strain L-92 on perennial allergic rhinitis: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study; J Dairy Sci. 2005 Feb;88(2):527-33.; Retrieve from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15653517
- Nayyar Ahmed, Colin J. Barrow, Cenk Suphioglu; Exploring the Effects of Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids on Allergy Using a HEK-Blue Cell Line; Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2016, 17, 220; doi:10.3390/ijms17020220
- DHA and EPA supplementation, (2016); Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists; Retrieve from https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/guidelines-research-services/guidelines/dha-and-epa-supplementation-query-bank/
- Nair MP, Kandaswami C, Mahajan S, Nair HN, Chawda R, Shanahan T, Schwartz SA.; Grape seed extract proanthocyanidins downregulate HIV-1 entry coreceptors, CCR2b, CCR3 and CCR5 gene expression by normal peripheral blood mononuclear cells; Biol Res. 2002;35(3-4):421-31; Retrieve from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12462994
- Supplements, (2009); WholeHealthMD.com; Retrieve from http://www.wholehealthmd.com/ME2/dirmod.asp?type=AWHN_Supplements&id=AF8E06768DB74FCD90E3FD3BDD5DB33F&tier=2
- Grape Seed Extract; Retrieve from https://examine.com/supplements/grape-seed-extract/