Pollen Allergy: Immune System on the Brink of Burnout
Hazel, alder, birch – the first pollen is already in the air in February. What makes the hearts of many nature lovers leap for joy is a yearly recurring nightmare for allergy sufferers: No comfortable chill-out in outdoor bars, sports only in the evenings, and hopefully no important meetings around lunchtime. What is known in the vernacular as hay fever is usually referred to a pollen allergy or rhinitis allergica in medical circles. All these terms refer to the same phenomenon: The pollen particles of trees, grasses, bushes and herbs cause flu-like defence reactions in the body.
Allergy sufferers of today are the asthmatics of tomorrow
Worldwide, allergies are one of the most common and most stressful chronic disorders. Their incidence shows the steepest rise among all chronic disease groups. About 20% of the Austrian population suffer from allergies. Thereby, pollen allergy is one of the absolute frontrunners among the allergies. Especially children and adolescents are affected. If an allergy is not treated (properly), it can lead to bronchial asthma (sooner or later) under certain circumstances. Proper treatment means grabbing the disorder by its roots and not just treating the symptoms.
A “hysterical” immune system is not much help
In order to protect the body, the immune system reacts to foreign bodies. That makes sense. Just think, for instance, of the potentially dangerous pathogens such as viruses and bacteria, which must be identified as foreign and fought off. Things become problematic, however, when defence reactions targeting harmless substances like pollen are triggered. An allergy (hypersensitivity) is an excessive reaction by the immune system to an “allergen” that is normally not harmful. In an allergy, our immune system is not in balance. It is over-ambitious - and it keeps making mistakes and doing unnecessary overtime.
Our immune system should be smart, not strong
Our immune system is a complex, finely tuned control system that works in an intertwined manner like a highly networked and smart defence system. On the one hand it has to react promptly and efficiently, and on the other hand it also has to distinguish - through its specialised “fingerprinting department” - between real and merely perceived danger. From the perspective of nutritional medicine, a sufficient and complete nutrient supply plays an extremely important role in this. In addition to plenty of exercise and sufficient sleep, a smart immune system needs an
– elementary basic supply for a flexible, but stimulus-adequate defence:
Just like a highly developed military defence system needs writing, radio and bugging devices, high-quality tools, fire extinguishers, weapons, vehicles and fuel, our physical defence system can also function optimally only if it is appropriately and fully equipped. In biology, this equipment is referred to with the umbrella term “micronutrients”. These include vitamins, minerals, trace elements, but also hundreds of other vital substances from plants. That is why it is so important to supply our physical defence system with high-quality foods such as wholemeal, fruit and full-value staples.
2) Highly unsaturated fatty acids:
Remaining with the example of military equipment, highly unsaturated fatty acids correspond with the protective clothing of our army. The more elastic, tear-proof and endurable our army’s clothing is, the more masterfully and efficiently it can protect us. This also applies to the immune system. The more elastic and tear-proof our immune cells are, the faster, more efficiently and masterfully they can react to real or perceived enemies. Thereby, a regular and adequate intake of high-quality vegetable oils (e.g. linseed, walnut, hemp, soy oil) is indispensable for a flexible immune system.
3) Base minerals:
Permanent cleaning and disposal also contribute significantly towards the military defence running smoothly. Applied to the human body, this means that our organism also needs to be cleansed of metabolic waste at regular intervals. Thereby, base minerals as they are found in vegetables, salads or also in potatoes serve as biological waste disposal system.
Thus it is not the strength of our defence system that guarantees us optimal protection, but rather its flexibility and smartness. And we ourselves decide whether our immune system is stupid, sluggish, hysterical, or whether it is flexible, smart and reacts stimulus-adequately - with what we eat and drink every day.