Indianapolis Edition

Natural Lifestyle Upgrades to Ease Allergies

It may seem like everyone has an allergy to something these days. The amount of people I’ve spoken with since opening Ezra’s Café in 2014 experiencing new allergy symptoms, such as dry itchy skin, rashes, gut issues, constant sinus pain or draining, the list goes on, seems to increase each year. It’s hard to ignore that something is going on.

An allergy is an immune response to an outside substance like food, dust or pollen. I’ve observed that what we eat and the way we live is, for many, causing inflammatory responses in the body. Inflammation makes us more susceptible to disease and sickness. Short term, we might get the sniffles, colds, sinus infections and flu more often. Long-term or chronic inflammation can snowball into autoimmune diseases, heart disease, cancer and more.

When you notice you are having an allergic response, it’s your body’s way of signaling that something about what you’re consuming isn’t working well with your body. It’s important to find out what’s causing the reaction and change accordingly. You don’t want to simply cover up the symptom without addressing the cause. Using a cream for chronic itchy skin or a pill for allergy symptoms isn’t getting to the root cause of the problem.

Food Allergies

An effective way to determine what’s causing a food allergy is to start an elimination diet. While there are several processes, my recommendation is to start by eliminating dairy and gluten, two highly common food sensitivities. Another significant concern is genetically modified food, or GMOs, which are bioengineered foods. The big ones to look out for are foods containing non-organic corn, soy and canola.

To steer clear of GMO produce, consume a diet of organic produce only or use the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen lists (available online) to help you navigate your budget. When purchasing packaged foods, which we want to keep to a minimum, read the ingredient list. Any corn or soy or canola product that doesn’t say organic will probably be genetically modified.

Repairing and Balancing

The food and herbs consumed and lifestyle changes made can help repair damage done to our gut and immune system from chronic inflamed tissue because of allergic responses. Here are some of my current favorites, along with a tip on deep breathing.

Slippery Elm: You can purchase this in powder form or in larger pieces from your local health food store. Simply make a tea or create a paste with the powder and honey and roll into balls, using as an herbal “pill”. Slippery elm goes into the body and repairs damage to the gut, soothing and calming inflamed tissue.

Nettles: As we head into spring, Stinging Nettles will be popping up in wooded areas. You can also grow it yourself or purchase at health food stores. Making a tea with the leaves, sautéing the fresh leaves or adding to soup is an awesome way to weave this wild food into your diet. Nettle acts as a natural antihistamine and, in addition, adds calcium, protein, magnesium and a host of other minerals into your body.

Turmeric and honey tea: This is a combo I absolutely love. The turmeric soothes internal inflammation while the honey helps address and calm seasonal allergies that may not be caused by food, but by air born particles, pollen, etc. in your environment. Simply add a teaspoon of turmeric powder with hot water and stir then add your raw local honey once the tea has cooled a bit.

Eat more fresh plants: You don’t have to be “vegan” or any other label to receive the benefits of eating plants. What we do know is that plants are nutrientdense and loaded with fiber, minerals and antioxidants. The more we eat, the more we aid our body in fighting free radicals from our environment.

Breathe: I was amazed at the benefits I felt when I started implementing breath work into my daily life. Just by taking the time to take 10 really deep breaths at least once or more each day can bring more mental clarity, energy, calm and peace to the mind and body. And when the body is calm, inflammation goes down.

Fortunately, there are natural remedies and lifestyle changes that can be made to upgrade our body’s immune response and overall well-being.

Audrey Barron is chef and owner of Ezra’s Enlightened Café, in Indianapolis. For more information including on their farm and classes, visit EzrasEnlightenedCafe.com. Visit GaiaChef.com for more information on Barron, including recipes and writings.

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