5 Natural Solutions to Eliminate Seasonal Allergies

Flowers smByline: Sara Best

Sneezing, runny nose, itchy and watery eyes – the hallmarks of seasonal allergies.

When everyone around you is celebrating the return of spring, are you silently cursing all growing things?

If you suffer from seasonal allergies, the pollen in the air triggers a histamine (immune system) response in your body. One of the ways to prevent the horrible symptoms of this reaction is to strengthen your immune system so that it can quickly and easily neutralize the allergens without causing such a dramatic (and miserable) response.

Here are five things you can do to boost your immune system and help end your suffering from seasonal allergies:

1. Improve Digestion

Since approximately 80 per cent of your immune system is located in your gut, it’s no surprise that this is also where a lot of issues around allergies begin.

One of the biggest culprits behind allergies is leaky gut. After years of abuse (poor digestion, undiagnosed food sensitivities, etc.), gaps can start to form in the lining of your intestinal wall. This allows undigested proteins to enter your blood stream, sending your immune system into overdrive. With your immune system on constant red alert like this, it becomes unusually sensitive to environmental triggers and the symptoms of seasonal allergies often worsen.

You can disrupt this pattern by working to rebuild your intestinal wall. For a period of 21 days, try eliminating all common food allergens (gluten, dairy, soy, corn).  During this period also cut out caffeine, alcohol and as much sugar as possible. Replace these foods with nutrient-dense and fiber-rich fruits, vegetables and clean proteins. Add in a good quality probiotic supplement and also look at natural sources of probiotics such as fermented foods.

You may find a significant improvement in your allergy symptoms at the end of the 21 days.

2. Drink Water

Your immune system – like every other system in your body – relies heavily on being properly hydrated to function.  Most of us are walking around in a state of at least partial dehydration for most of the day.

Aim to get your full 6-8 glasses of water a day – more if you’re exercising heavily.

Water with fresh lemon juice is also a great way to alkalinize the body which helps to reduce inflammation and support the immune system.

3. Antioxidants

Antioxidants are like booster packs for your immune system. They feed the production of white blood cells and antibodies.

Vitamins C, E and beta-carotene as well as zinc and selenium are among the most powerful antioxidants.

Great dietary sources of these include berries, green leafy vegetables, carrots, red and yellow peppers, tomatoes, green tea, Brazil nuts, citrus fruits, garlic and onions.

4. Sleep

Lack of adequate sleep can seriously compromise your immune system. The number of infection-fighting antibodies and cells in your body are reduced when you’re sleep deprived. In fact, studies have shown that certain white blood cells known as granulocytes are dramatically reduced after just one sleepless night.

Aim for 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night to keep your immune system in tip-top shape.

5. Cut out the Sugar

Processed sugar is incredibly hard on the immune system. Studies show that just three ounces of sugar can actually suppress your immune system within 30 minutes of consumption–a response that can last up to 5 hours!

SaraBSara Best is looking forward to graduating as a Registered Holistic Nutritionist from the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition this May.
She is the creator of the blog If Your Body Could Talk where she is building a community of people who want to better understand how to listen to the messages their bodies are sending them and use them to feel great and love life!
Sara is a writer and mom of two and lives in Ontario, Canada.

You can find her on Facebook and Twitter too!

How Raw Food Can Help You Live Food Allergy Free

Food allergy
Banana Breakfast Sundae

This is a guest post by Jennifer Blanchard on food allergy.

You’ve seen the words everywhere: gluten-free, vegan. Maybe you know what they mean, maybe you don’t.
If you have food allergies, though, you know exactly what they mean. They mean freedom from the ingredients that cause your body harm. They mean a way for you to enjoy food without sacrificing your health.

Common Food Allergens

• Dairy (milk, cheese, butter, cream, etc)
• Gluten (wheat)
• Eggs
• Soy
• Peanuts
• Tree nuts (cashews, almonds, walnuts, etc.)
• Fish (flounder, bass, cod, etc.)
• Shellfish (crab, lobster, shrimp, etc.)

Dairy and gluten (wheat) are the two most common allergens. And the number of people with these allergies grows every day.
In fact, 60 to 70 percent of Americans have undiagnosed food allergies. That’s a ton of people walking around with no knowledge that their bodies are begging them not to eat certain foods. When you continue to eat foods that you’re allergic to, you wreck havoc on your body. And over an extended period of time (years and years and years), the damage from the allergens in your food can cause disease. Do your body and yourself a huge favor and find out now if you’re allergic to anything. Years from now when you’re happy, healthy and disease-free, you’ll be grateful you did.

How Raw Food Can Help with Food Allergy

There are so many benefits your body gets from eating raw food. And raw food is also great for people with food allergies (or for people who are transiting to not eating food allergens anymore) because raw food is naturally allergy-free. I don’t think there are too many people who can say they’re allergic to kale or bananas or onions (and if you are allergic to one of those items for some reason, there’s still plenty of raw goodness available for you to enjoy). Whether you’re attempting an elimination diet or in the process of removing your food allergens for good, I highly recommend adding raw food into your diet.

When I found out about my food allergies (dairy, gluten/wheat), I decided the only way I was going to survive was if I found delicious replacements for all the things I loved that I could no longer eat (like ice cream, milkshakes and bagels with cream cheese).
Take the time to discover if you have food allergies. And if you discover that you do, here are two of my “replacement” recipes that I hope will make your transition process a little bit easier:

Cookies and Cream Shake

“Cookies and Cream Shake”

(to replace my milkshake obsession)

Before I knew I was allergic to dairy, I used to drink a milkshake at least five nights a week. Now that I’ve transitioned my diet to dairy-free, I no longer crave shakes (thankfully!), but on the rare occasion when I want one, I make this “shake” instead.
The raw cacao gives it the perfect amount of chocolate and the crunch it gives is like crumbled cookies.

1 banana, chopped
Raw cacao nibs, to taste
Almond milk, enough to cover everything in the blender
1 tablespoon of raw agave nectar
½ cup of ice

How To Put It Together
1. Chop the banana (or break it apart with your hands) and place it in your blender.
2. Add raw cacao nibs (to taste).
3. Add the tablespoon of agave nectar (adding more or less to suit your taste).
4. Toss in the ice.
5. Pour almond milk over all the ingredients until everything is almost covered completely.
6. Blend until all ingredients are smooth and mixed. If you want a thicker shake, add more ice and blend.

Banana Breakfast “Sundae”

(to replace my bagel with cream cheese breakfasts)

Removing gluten/wheat from my diet was the best decision I ever made. Now I’m no longer walking around with stomach pain or a foggy head, and when I’m at work, I’m not asleep at my desk at 3 p.m. But breakfast is my favorite meal, so I wanted to make sure I still had something delicious to start my day with (now that my bagel and cream cheese fix was no longer feasible). I decided to combine my love of ice cream sundaes with my love of breakfast and this is what came out of it:

1-2 bananas, chopped
2 tablespoons of cashew butter
1 tablespoon of raw pecans, chopped
1 tablespoon of dried cranberries

How To Put It Together
1. Chop the banana(s) and place them into a bowl.
2. Top with cashew butter, pecans and dried cranberries.
3. Fold together slightly.
4. Serve with a fork.

Substitute you favorite fresh fruit, nut butter, chopped nuts or dried fruit, or try different combinations every morning! How do you make living with food allergies more enjoyable?

Food Allergy
Photo Credit

Jennifer Blanchard is a certified holistic health and food allergy coach who’s allergic to dairy and wheat/gluten. Her goal is to help people with food allergies thrive in life and continue to enjoy food, regardless of the ingredients they can no longer eat.

7 Simple Steps to Looking and Feeling 10 Years Younger

This is a guest post by Sukie Baxter.

Growing older is inevitable, but that doesn’t mean you have to feel like you were born when rocks were soft and dirt was newly discovered. Have you ever heard the saying that age is simply a mindset? Well, this is half true. Certainly, if you focus on being happy and leading an active life, you’ll be less likely to notice the years passing. But what about when age related conditions such as arthritis, cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure set in? It’s difficult to defy your chronological age when physical dis-ease is holding you back from doing the things you love.

But, believe it or not, there’s an underlying thread connecting not only these conditions but also depression, memory loss, fatigue, digestive disease, fibromyalgia, allergies, lupus, psoriasis, diabetes and autoimmune disorders. Chronic, systemic inflammation
is the root cause of all diseases and also triggers early aging. In fact, elevated C-reactive protein, an inflammatory marker, is the strongest predictor of a future heart attack, much stronger than cholesterol levels!

So, what causes systemic inflammation? There are several factors, but fortunately, all of them can be controlled or eliminated. Below are seven keys to reducing systemic inflammation, which will leave you with fewer aches and pains, younger looking skin, a stronger immune system and more energy for life!

1 . Consume foods that are raw or cooked at low temperatures.

Cooking food on high heat chemically alters the sugars and fats, creating glycotoxins, the same residual matter produced in your skin and joint tissues as a result of normal aging. Consuming foods high in glycotoxins – i.e. cooked at high temperatures – promotes the formation of glycotoxins in our tissues, accelerating the aging process and contributing to increased levels of systemic inflammation, according a National Academy of Sciences study.

A Mt. Sinai Medical Center study compared levels of glycotoxins in two groups of participants. One group followed a normal western diet while the other group avoided grilling, frying or baking their food in favor of poaching, stewing, or steaming their meals. The latter group showed a 60% reduction in blood levels of inflammatory markers after four months, so it stands to reason that a healthy dose of raw veggies each day will help keep the doctor away!

2 . Eliminate food sensitivities.

Allergies first happen on the cellular level with the production of white blood cells to fend off the ‘foreign invader.’ As we age, foods that didn’t used to bother us, like dairy or wheat, can become problematic. Constant consumption of foods that create cell-level inflammation can lead to systemic issues down the road. If you suspect that you have a food allergy, consult a qualified naturopath who can assist you with an elimination diet to determine which foods are the culprits, and then avoid those like the plague.

3 . Eliminate sugar, starch and refined carbohydrates.

Anything white or foods that can be bleached white like bread, flour, rice, corn, sugar, cereals, baked goods, etc, will cause inflammation. Carbohydrates create an insulin spike that puts your body on red alert, causing the production of arachidonic acid, a pro-inflammatory agent. Look for foods with a low glycemic index that will not cause insulin spikes to keep your inflammation levels in check.

4 . Take magnesium!

A 2005 article in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition demonstrated that as magnesium levels fall, C-reactive protein levels rise. Even worse, the study found that most adults consume less than the daily recommended amount of magnesium (between 310 and 420 mg).

There are no foods that contain large amounts of magnesium, and this might be responsible for our nationwide deficiency. We are constantly reminded by the dairy industry to get enough calcium and by the orange juice companies to drink up for vitamin C, but no one is pushing magnesium, so we don’t really think about it. Also, most of us now drink bottled or softened water instead of well or spring water that is rich in magnesium.

Since dietary magnesium can be difficult to absorb, I recommend using transdermal magnesium oil from Ancient Minerals for direct delivery into the blood stream.

5 . Reduce stress and get more sleep.

There’s good stress, like that of entering a sports competition or going on a first date, and there’s bad stress. Bad stress tends to be chronic, like a cranky boss, a job you hate, financial worries or even a poor
diet. Chronic physical and psychological pressure results in elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol. High levels of cortisol are linked to increased systemic inflammation. In addition, a study conducted by the Emory University School of Medicine in partnership with the Morehouse School of Medicine found that acute sleep deprivation resulted in elevated inflammatory hormones.

So, it stands to reason that taking time to alleviate stress will result in increased levels of health. Taking magnesium, as I mentioned in #4, will help you to sleep more soundly, but there are other strategies you can use to reduce stress such as getting regular massages and diffusing stress relieving essential oils into your home or office (I recommend a blend of lavender and peppermint…smells delicious!).

6 . Take systemic enzymes.

If you’re suffering from painful conditions like arthritis, back and neck pain or muscle stiffness, systemic enzymes will be your best friend. Whereas most people treat pain with NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory
drugs) like ibuprofen and aspirin, these medications only cover up the pain without addressing the root cause. Systemic enzymes, on the other hand, work holistically throughout the body to clean up excessive fibrin. When fibrin is too thick, it restricts blood flow, which slows healing and makes it impossible for your circulatory system to remove metabolic waste that causes further pain and inflammation. Systemic enzymes are available at most health food and supplement stores.

7 . Soak up the sunshine!

Whenever somebody moves to my hometown of Seattle, the first thing I suggest is to start taking supplemental vitamin D right away! We have one of the highest incidences in multiple sclerosis in the entire nation, and it’s
all because cloudy skies cause vitamin D deficiency. But we’re not the only ones!

According to a recent study from the Archives of Internal Medicine, 75% of Americans aren’t getting enough of the sunshine vitamin. A nutrition science researcher at the University of Missouri discovered that a slight drop in vitamin D levels caused increased inflammation even in healthy women.

You can get more vitamin D by exposing 25% of your skin to sunlight for 10 minutes a day, three days per week. Consuming fatty fish is a good dietary source of vitamin D, or you can choose to take dietary supplements. The amount you need to take depends
on your geographical location. Those who live in cloudy cities (like Seattle) will need to take significantly more vitamin D.

Clearly, inflammation is on the rise, but that doesn’t mean you have to be a victim. By taking simple steps to eliminate pro-inflammatory agents from your diet and environment and feeding your body the right nutrients, you can avoid a lot of the common age related symptoms. That means more life in your years, so get out there and play!

Sukie Baxter is an anti aging and longevity specialist who helps you defy your age! You can get tons of rejuvenation secrets and discover your younger, happier self at www.SukieBaxter.com!

Top 10 blog posts on Raw Foods Witch

Don’t have the time to go through the whole spellbinding archives? Start by the top 10 blog posts on Raw Foods Witch!

Why It’s Easier to Go Raw Than To Become Vegan

Who knew that going raw could be easier than just vegan? This post clearly explains that choosing a raw diet is not only easier, but also healthier than the common vegan diet.

7 Reasons I have a Love / Hate Relationship with Raw Food

There are always two sides to a medal, and having a raw diet makes no exception. Changing your diet can sometimes have an important impact on your everyday life. Discover the ups and downs of a life in the raw.

The Importance of Investing in Yourself & Your Health Without Giving Up

Changes towards a healthy lifestyle require commitment. By investing in yourself, you’re not only taking the first and necessary step towards a healthier self, but you’re also putting the basis of a sustainable self improvement.

9 Ways Raw Food Changed My Life

More than helping you to look and feel better, incorporating more raw foods in your diet can have surprising other benefits.

Set Yourself Up for Raw Success

Changing your diet can definitely bring some joy, but the road can also get rocky too. Avoid the common roadblocks of your journey to raw foods, and gear up for success with raw coaching. The group coaching session here might be already over, but personalized one on one coaching sessions are still offered.

21 Ways to Sneak More Vegetables Into Your Diet

Whether you’re a long-time raw foodist or just starting to take steps towards a healthier lifestyle, this post give you creative ideas to beef-up your daily vegetables intake.

Healthy Desserts: 28 Healthy Dessert Recipes in the Raw

Why do we love sweet food so much? It doesn’t really matter since you now have 28 healthy desserts you can eat everyday. This means 28 other delicious reasons to try raw food today!

How to Stay Raw When Dining Out at Restaurants

You don’t have to sacrifice your social life when committing to a raw diet. This post gives you great tips and ideas to eat raw at omnivore’s restaurants.

Why Food Allergies for Nuts, Gluten, and Milk are on the Rise and What to do About It

Food allergies and intolerances can silently sabotage your health. This video post clearly explains how food allergy works and what you can do to spot and prevent it to develop.

Will You Go Nuts If You Eat Too Many Nuts?

When I first went raw, I jumped in with both feet and went 100% raw for 30 days. The first few weeks I found myself eating tons of nuts! I know it’s not uncommon for people transitioning to raw food to overeat nuts, so I decided to share my story and advice about nuts.

Why The Nuts?

Why do most of us immediately reach for the raw nuts and seeds when we switch to a raw diet?

1. We want to feel full.

Since nuts are solid, crunchy, and filling, we have a tendency to use them as a replacement for cooked food. For example, when I first went raw, I would still feel “hungry” after eating a generous salad. I’d eat a handful or two of nuts to get that semi-drowsy feeling I was missing.

2. Nuts are crunchy.

Of course another reason why we might overeat nuts at the beginning is that we miss that crunchy yummy sort of salty feeling. Nuts make a natural replacement for chips, popcorn, crackers, and other snacks. Here’s a quick tip if that’s why you’re reaching for the nuts: try crunching on some celery, or make kale chips!

3. It’s an easy snack food.

You don’t need to wash, cut, or blend anything to eat nuts. If you’re in a hurry or feeling tired, you can just open a jar or reach for a container of nuts and enjoy. There’s nothing wrong with this behavior, but if you’re overeating nuts you will want to prepare adequate snack foods in advance.

Remember that being prepared is half the battle when it comes to eating healthy foods.

Nuts: The Good and The Bad

On the one hand, nuts make us feel full because our body is expending energy trying to digest them. Nuts are harder to digest than fresh fruits and vegetables. In reality we probably wouldn’t be eating tons of nuts in nature, unless they were fresh and in season. How many of us live next to a Brazil nut tree? That’s what I thought.

Nuts have tons of great nutritious qualities, and I don’t think we should shun them entirely. The healthy oils found in nuts are full of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for the brain, and for keeping your stress levels under control. Alternative sources of omega-3 fatty acids include chia seeds and flax seeds.

Most people have an easier time digesting seeds than they do digesting nuts. Also, the reason why more people are allergic to nuts than seeds is that nuts tend to go rancid if kept on a shelf for too long a time.

The Nutty Conclusion

So what’s the verdict? No, you won’t go insane if you eat too many nuts. But try to limit yourself to one handful per day, since they are hard to digest. If you feel bloated or gassy after eating nuts, cut down.

Also, you should avoid eating nuts with fresh fruits since that will definitely cause some discomforts and gas!

Other than that, go nuts. :D