April Showers Bring May Flowers – Achoo!
Spring is in the air. I look around and see beautiful dogwood trees and azaleas bushes blooming everywhere. In fact, spring has to be one of my favorite times of the year. However, many others do not share my same sentiments. For some, spring can be an extremely trying time due to allergies. Where I see bursts of color from spring flowers and butterflies filling the air, others see clouds of pollen blowing in the wind and covering everything in a blanket of yellow. I breathe in deep the fragrant scent of spring while others miserably fend off yet another bout of a sneezing fit, watery eyes, headaches and congestion or runny nose. Spring makes me want to go out into the world and enjoy mother nature at her finest while others want to shut themselves away and turn on the air purifier. Sound familiar?
Spring isn’t the sole culprit. In fact, allergies can come from several sources. People who suffer allergies may react to a number of triggers such as foods, pollens, molds, dust, insects, fabrics, pets, medications and soaps just to name a few. An allergic response happens when our immune system encounters a foreign substance and then results in an adverse reaction. These reactions range from the aforementioned symptoms and can also include severe rashes, migraines, gastro-intestinal problems, asthmatic episodes and sometimes even death.
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America offer the following statistics:
- An estimated 50 million Americans suffer from all types of allergies (1 in 5 Americans) including indoor/outdoor, food & drug, latex, insect, skin and eye allergies.
- Allergy prevalence overall has been increasing since the early 1980s across all age, sex and racial groups.
- Allergy is the 5th leading chronic disease in the U.S. among all ages, and the 3rd most common chronic disease among children under 18 years old.
- The annual cost of allergies is estimated to be nearly $7 billion.
- For adults, allergies (hay fever) is the 5th leading chronic disease and a major cause of work absenteeism and "presenteeism," resulting in nearly 4 million missed or lost workdays each year, in total costing more than $700 million in total lost productivity.
There isn’t a known cure for allergies, but they may be controlled. Medications for allergies can often leave one drowsy, irritable or non-responsive. However, there is still hope. There are alternative safe and effective natural ways to combat the symptoms of allergies. A few ways to reduce allergen exposure indoors is to dust and vacuum regularly, replace filters in your air conditioning and/or air purifiers, select tile or hard flooring instead of carpet and use protective bedding covers. Diet and supplementation also play important roles in controlling allergies. According to a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, supplementation of omega 3 fatty acids, like Vita Logic Fish Oil, reduced allergic rhinitis. Herbal supplements containing bromelain, quercetin and stinging nettle, like Vita Logic Allergy Formula, have also proven effective against allergy symptoms.
Perhaps the best thing we can do to address allergies is to fortify our immune symptom through probiotics. Probiotics are friendly bacterial colonies found in live-culture yogurt products. But buyer beware: commercial yogurt products purchased through your local supermarket may not have "active live-cultures" or the strains you need. A simple solution is a probiotic supplement like Natren’s Healthy Trinity. Or better yet, (my favorite) make your own live-culture yogurt with products like Natren’s Yogurt Starter.
Making your own yogurt is not only beneficial but delicious and easy to do with some milk, yogurt starter and a yogurt making machine like the one we’re giving away in our Yogurt Recipe contest. There are so many things you can do with yogurt, from a fruit dessert, Greek cucumber dressing, Indian cooking sauces, dessert toppings to…come to think of it, there isn’t much you can’t do with yogurt. Well, need to run – I hear the yogurt machine calling my name. I feel the urge to try something new; and go ahead and submit a recipe. Who knows you could be our lucky winner.