We don’t usually make a connection between the immune system and allergies. Often, we link our immune system with things like the flu, fevers, or generally, other illnesses. But the truth is, our immune system shares a very close relationship with allergies.
Let’s understand more about how the immune system is interconnected with allergies, as well as some basic tips on how to avoid common allergies.
Our immune system is a complex network of cells, chemicals, tissues, and organs that is responsible for fending off any harmful pathogens that try to invade and harm our bodies (1). It is an important line of defense that keeps our bodies safe from illness.
Allergies are our bodies’ reaction when it comes into contact with a foreign substance that it considers harmful to the body (2). Allergies are usually characterised by inflammation and itching. In more severe cases, some types of allergies can prove to be fatal.
Now, let’s understand the relationship between our immune system and allergies. Allergies are caused by an overreaction of our immune system. When typically harmless substances manage to enter our bodies either through inhalation, consumption, or contact (3), our immune system might misjudge and consider these foreign objects as threats (4). When this happens, the body creates antibodies to attack these threats. As the immune system’s antibodies attack these substances, the affected areas or parts become inflamed. This is what we call an allergic reaction.
Allergic reactions tend to occur because of an overactive immune system (4). Overactive immune systems produce too many antibodies than necessary. This can prove to be an issue since it can lead to excessive inflammation in our airways or digestive tracts.
Now that we know about the link between the immune system and allergies, let’s talk about how to manage allergies.
Here are some basic steps that you can take to manage your allergies.
There are many types of allergies such as ones triggered by dust, food, drugs, latex, and mould to name a few (5). Fortunately, there are tests that you can take so you can better identify what substances your immune system can possibly overreact to. Consult your doctor and get tested so you can come up with a plan on how to live a lifestyle that avoids your triggers.
The best course of action to avoid allergies is to limit your exposure to triggers altogether. Once you’ve identified possible allergens with your healthcare professional, you would be able to actively avoid making contact with them. Prevention is always better than cure.
You can also consider taking supplements as a way to improve your immune system. As always, consult with your doctor first before taking anything.
Here are some vitamins and minerals that can support immune system function when paired alongside a nutrient-rich diet:
Zinc supports the immune system in fighting off pathogens (6).
Iron supports the immune system by playing a role in producing immune system cells (7).
*Iron should only be taken if prescribed by your doctor.
Astaxanthin supports healthy immune system function by modulating immune response, and preventing certain kinds of inflammation (8).
Ashwagandha is thought to be an immune system modulator, and has anti-inflammatory and anti-stress effects (9).
Certain probiotic strains help modulate the immune system, contributing to quicker immune response (10).
Vitamin B deficiency may affect immune system processes (11).
Vitamin C supports the immune system by playing a role in the production and function of immune system cells (12).
Vitamin D deficiency is connected to higher susceptibility to infection (13).
Vitamin B12 helps promote healthy immune system response. A lack of this vitamin may inhibit the activity of immune cells (14).
Omega-3 fatty acids come from fish oil. These fatty acids help support healthy immune system function (15).
The immune system and allergies are closely related. If you want to manage your allergies, ensure you take care of your immune system. Consult a doctor, avoid triggers, and consider vitamins ad supplements to manage deficiencies.
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Find out more about other areas that the above supplements can help you with:
*Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional. Vitamin and/or mineral supplements should not replace a balanced diet.