Cue the stuffy nose and watery eyes—it’s allergy season once again. If you’re part of the 25% of Canadians that experience seasonal allergies, then you know firsthand how uncomfortable these symptoms can be.1
Luckily, we know some ways you can relieve allergy symptoms and protect your immune system year-round.
What happens to the immune system during an allergic reaction?
An allergic reaction develops when the immune system is triggered by a foreign substance (food, pollen, etc.) that would normally be harmless. They can affect anyone, but the biggest risk factor is a family history of allergies.2
During an allergic reaction, the immune system generates antibodies known as Immunoglobulin E (IgE), which activate mast cells, a type of white blood cell located near body parts exposed to the environment (ie. skin, lungs, intestines).3
When they encounter an allergen, mast cells release histamine and other inflammatory chemicals that cause the annoying seasonal allergy symptoms many of us are familiar with; wheezing, itching, runny nose, watery eyes.4
Now that we’ve unpacked the immune response to allergens, let’s get into the common allergen triggers.
Common types of allergies
Also known as “hay fever” or seasonal allergic rhinitis, seasonal allergies come around like clockwork at the same time every year. Depending on the season, trees, grasses, and weeds release different types of pollen into the air, which sets off allergic responses for some people.
How long do seasonal allergies last?
The degree and frequency that you experience seasonal allergies depends on where you live, the climate, and your allergen triggers. For Canadians, this is typically when they peak:5
|Spring (late April to May)
|Summer (late May to mid-July)
|Grass and weed pollen
|Fall (mid-August to October)
|Grass and weed pollen
Cats, dogs, birds, and rodents all shed pet dander (dead skin cells) that trigger an allergic reaction similar to that of seasonal allergies. If you’re allergic to pets, you’ll likely experience nasal congestion, sneezing, itchy eyes, or difficulty breathing.
Because these symptoms are similar to a common cold, it’s hard to know for sure whether you’re experiencing an allergic reaction or not. Notice if these symptoms persist for more than a couple weeks and if they occur around pets during that time.
Food allergies happen when the immune system thinks that certain foods are trying to harm you. Symptoms can range from mild to serious. Signs of a food allergy include:
- tingly mouth/swelling lips
- shortness of breath
- cramps, upset stomach, or diarrhea
- itchy skin with hives
- feeling dizzy or light-headed
10 major food allergens in Canada
When present in any food, these common allergens must always appear in the ingredient list on the product label:6
- seafood (fish, crustaceans, and shellfish)
- sesame seeds
- tree nuts
- wheat and triticale
Whether you’re allergic to seasonal changes, pets, or food, you may be wondering what this means for your immune system.
Are allergies a sign of a weakened immune system?
There’s no conclusive evidence that points to a strong ‘yes’ or ‘no’. On one hand, allergies signify a sensitive immune system because it’s perceiving a normally harmless substance as a threat. But on the other hand, it’s a sign that the immune system is doing its job, just specific to your body. Similar to when you show cold or flu symptoms, it’s the body’s way of protecting you from further infection.
In any case, it’s important to treat ongoing allergies and symptoms to minimize the impact they have on your day-to-day life.
So what can you do to keep allergy symptoms under control?
How to support the immune system against allergies
1. Practice good hygiene
We’re all familiar with the importance of good hygiene to stop the spread of unwanted germs. But practicing good hygiene is equally important for minimizing allergic reactions.7 Here are some of the best hygiene habits to adopt:
- Regularly clean your home space using a disinfectant cleaner.
- Use a dehumidifier in dust-prone areas.
- Sanitize your electronic devices. If no manufacturer guidance is available, the BCCDC recommends using disinfectant wipes or sprays with at least 70% alcohol.8
- Frequently wash your hands with soap and warm water.
- Keep your hands away from your face.
2. Take vitamin C
Vitamin C is non-negotiable when it comes to immune health. As a natural antioxidant, vitamin C promotes immune function and helps to reduce the intensity of allergy symptoms such as inflammation and nasal congestion.9,10 And because it’s a vitamin the body can’t make on it’s own, you need to source it from food or supplements.
Good food sources of vitamin C:
- sweet peppers
- citrus fruits (grapefruit and oranges)
Get more vitamin C with the help of Ester-C®
Whether you prefer capsules, tablets, powders or chewables, we have an Ester-C® for everyone. Ester-C® is clinically proven to provide 24-hour immune support, and is gentle on the stomach. Here are some of our favourites:
Sisu Ester-C® Supreme Powder: In addition to Ester-C®, it contains quercetin and larch arabinogalactan, a plant compound found in larch tree bark. It’s non-GMO, gluten-free, soy-free, and vegan friendly.
Sisu Ester-C® 250 mg Chewable: A tasty burst of vitamin C in three delicious flavours: orange, citrus punch and wildberry. These chewables offer immune support for children and adults. They’re also vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free.
Sisu Ester-C® 1000 mg Tablets: Provides a higher dose in a single tablet. It’s formulated with citrus bioflavonoids and acerola cherry extract. These tablets are vegan, non-GMO, gluten-free, and soy-free.
3. Prioritize your digestive health
The importance of gut health can not be overstated when it comes to keeping your immune system healthy. After all, nearly 70% of the immune system is housed in the gut.11 Scientific evidence suggests a strong link between improving your gut microbiome and less severe allergic symptoms.12
How to support your digestive health:
- Eat a diet rich in fiber to help food move through your digestive system. Fiber-rich foods include avocados, chickpeas, lentils, oats, and almonds.
- Take a probiotic to help balance the bacteria in your digestive system.
4. Rest and de-stress
If you ever needed more of a reason to take a break from your never-ending to-do list, this is it. Reducing the effects of stress is one of the best ways to feel more relief from bothersome allergy symptoms. Stress hormones diminish the effectiveness of the immune system, and therefore, its response to allergens. In fact, studies show that high stress levels can worsen allergic conditions.13
While stress is inevitable, it’s important to prioritize your wellbeing and manage stress when it starts to feel like more than you can handle.
Tips for reducing stress:
- Get 7-9 hours of sleep every night. If this is hard for you, try our new Sleep Ease supplement. This triple-action formula helps you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Each easy-to-swallow tablet is formulated with 5 mg of quick release and 5 mg of time release melatonin, L-Theanine, and a traditional herbal blend.
- Start a meditation practice. Not only does meditation help you get into a relaxed state, but consistent practice has been proven to improve the body’s reaction to stress in the future.14
- Exercise regularly. Whether it’s running, walking, or yoga, moving your body regularly boosts feelings of wellbeing physically and mentally.
- Talk to loved ones or a professional when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed. It helps to feel supported by people that have your best interests at heart.
5. Talk to your doctor
Every experience with allergies is unique and sometimes you need to call in the professionals for an extra hand. If allergies run in your family or you’re showing moderate to severe allergic symptoms, we recommend going to a doctor to discuss the best treatment plan for you. This could include:
- Allergy Medications
- Supplements: Turn to a brand like Sisu for your vitamin and supplement needs. Most of our products are vegan-friendly, non-GMO and made with reduced allergens such as gluten, soy, and dairy.
- Allergy shots: These are administered by a doctor or allergist and can reduce symptoms from allergic reactions to pollens, animal dander, dust mites, mould, or cockroaches.15
Nip your allergy symptoms in the bud
Don’t let your allergies get in the way of doing the things you enjoy. Take care of your immune system and find relief from allergy symptoms by following these tips and talking to a doctor about the best treatment plan for you.
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