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June 5th, 2008

Hay Fever, Grass Pollen, Allergies, and Probiotics

by Tim, No Comments »

Wow… what a mouthful. That mouthful was derived from an article by Reuters that detailed how a small study showed that taking (drinking in this case) probiotics “can change the immune system’s response to grass pollen, a common cause of allergies, and balance antibodies in a way that may provide relief to people with the condition.”

There are millions of bacteria in the gut, some of which are good and some of which are bad. It is obviously in our best interest to increase the ratio of good to bad bacteria as the good help to keep at bay and “crowd out” the bad. Probiotic supplements are an excellent way to help keep your immune system and gut in optimal health. The intestines and colon are key in maintaining overall health. The stronger the presence of good bacteria the better your body will be able to ward off the negative effects (in numerous ways) from the bad bacteria. Just try traveling to a foreign country and eating the street food. Most of the native residents will have no problem with the food while most likely you would not be able to handle it and would end up with frequent and horrible trips to the bathroom.

The overuse of antibiotics and the western diet in general has done away with much of the beneficial bacteria in our system that is vital for health. It takes time to replenish the body with beneficial bacteria and there are several different ways you can do it. The more the better. The best way is to get probiotics through the food you eat. Fermented and cultured foods are excellent sources. The key again is finding high quality sources. Many of the modern cultured foods (think yogurt) have inferior, artificial, and unhealthy ingredients added. Look for whole food products that have been minimally processed and are naturally cultured.

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One excellent brand I can recommend is Bubbies. Bubbies sells all natural fermented pickles, sauerkraut, horseradishes, and mustard. It is hard to beat a real old fashioned pickle. Check out www.realpickles.com… they are great.

You can also get probiotics through cultured milk (preferably raw) products like yogurt, kefir, and cheese. Pasteurized milk products have been heated to kill all bacteria first and therefore even though they may be cultured with new bacteria they still contain the old dead bacteria which can cause adverse reactions in the body and is not healthy to consume. Whenever possible get cultured products from high quality raw milk. Other beverages such as kvass, kombucha, new wine, and naturally fermented ginger ale can also provide a great source of probiotics.

In addition to food taking a probiotic supplement is an excellent consideration, especially if you are and have been surrounded by the typical American diet for your whole life. Two brands which I believe I have recommend before are Garden of Life’s Primal Defense and Mercola’s Complete Probiotics. Mercola’s sales page kinda bothers me (I find it annoying)… but hey… it is a good product and they do need to sell it.

Well, I hope you have a little bit better understanding of the pounds of bacteria in your gut and how important it is for your overall health. Allergies and hay fever are not isolated symptoms… there are numerous allergies and health problems that stem from a poor internal environment. Every person is different though and will respond different as our bodies are dynamic and some things may improve while others may not until other areas are addresses. Think holistically… improve everything as you can.

That was a long post. I am out.