Digestion : Support Your Gut

Researchers estimate that up to 15 million Americans have food allergies, and millions more suffer from a food intolerance. Food allergies are on the rise, and while there's no cure, individuals who have allergies or intolerances can support the body naturally.

"Most food allergies are mediated by the immune system as a result of interactions between ingested food, the digestive tract, white blood cells, and food-specific antibodies such as IgE, IgG, and IgM," says Michael T. Murray, ND. About 80 percent of the immune system is located in the digestive tract, so it's important for individuals with food allergies to support gut health as well as incorporate anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting supplements into their regimen.

Probiotics: Beneficial bacteria like Lactobacillus acidophilus are powerful immune boosters and can help improve digestion. In addition, a recent animal study shows that a sensitivity to food allergens can be reversed through the reintroduction of a mix of gut bacteria common in humans.

Fish oil: Add anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids to your diet. If you have an allergy to fish, opt for flaxseed oil. Research suggests that supplementing with polyunsaturated fatty acids from fish oil may be helpful for curbing the inflammation associated with food allergies.

Bromelain: "Insufficient release of pancreatic enzymes as well as low secretion of stomach acid (hypochlorhydria) may play a major role in many cases of food allergies, particularly if a person has multiple allergies," says Dr. Murray. Enzymes are critical to proper protein digestion, and incomplete digestion of proteins contributes to the development of food allergies. Plant enzymes like bromelain can serve as replacements for the body's own pancreatic enzymes. Supplementing with enzymes also helps promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut.

High-quality multivitamin/mineral formula: According to the Mayo Clinic, some surveys suggest that supplementing the diet with vitamins A, D, and E and zinc may help control food allergies. A multi will contain all the nutrients necessary for proper immune function. Look for a hypoallergenic formula.

If you or your child has a food allergy, talk to your healthcare practitioner about nutritional supplements that may provide additional support.
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