An allergy occurs when your immune system recognizes an environmental or food molecule (allergen) as a dangerous intruder to get rid of. The dreaded symptoms are just the tools your body has to get rid of the intruder.
The allergy mechanism is quite complex and involves the immune system and a series of biochemical reactions. It ends up with histamine and other mediators being released in the bloodstream and causing symptoms. Allergens may result from our environment, food, medication, or personal care products like skin creams or suntan lotions.
The body’s response to an allergen results in “allergy symptoms” ranging from mild to severe, and sometimes deadly. If you are experiencing an allergic reaction you may feel tired, hazy, dizzy, or exhibit cold or flu-like symptoms.
Do you see the spring through a haze of tears, with a tissue box surgically attached to your hand and your nose emitting a persistent deluge of protesting gunge?
Most Canadians love summers, so it seems harsh that so many people should be doomed to react unfavourably at the first glint of the suns rays.
Then there are the unfortunates who react this way all year round, persistently snuffling and sneezing, sometimes without even knowing what it is they are reacting to. If you wake up every morning with an itchy nose, irritated eyes or catarrh blocking the back of your throat, you know where I’m coming from.
These days, more and more people suffer from food intolerances or allergies. Why is that?
For one thing, our high-stress lifestyles and poor eating habits are at least in part to blame, but there has to be more to it than that… So what mysterious mechanism could cause the body to go so off-kilter?
For starters, you might be interested to know that our diet, high in refined carbohydrates, grains and sugars, especially when combined with our over-use of antibiotics, plays a major role in the allergy phenomenon.
Until about 100 years ago an allergy was something out of the ordinary as formal infections were the most frequent causes of disease. Nowadays, allergies have been increasing uncontrollably and it is officially accepted that the contamination of our modern environment has created a climate favorable for the development of such illnesses.
What is an allergy?
When speaking of an allergy, we mean a changed or unusual defensive reaction against some known, or unknown, substance. An allergic disposition can be hereditary or acquired and we can get an allergy at any time in life, even as a bottle fed baby.
An allergic reaction to a substance or food can happen within seconds or over a period of up to 72 hours. Countless health problems or even serious illness can be caused by allergens.