Sunday, April 21, 2019

Chronic Inflammation: A Worldwide Epidemic

Why are my summer allergies so bad?

Is there actually a way to drastically reduce hay fever allergy symptoms for good?


But don't say I said it was going to be easy. Its not. But its definitely worth it.

guacomole tomotoes olives in dishes
Birch pollen allergy can cause oral allergy syndrome when you eat Mediterranean, Mexican or Italian cusine

Most often, doctors will tell you to take an Allegra, Zyrtec or Claritin not realizing sometimes there are allergens in allergy medications.

Years ago, I found out the hard way that undeclared soy in Zyrtec tablets caused dyshidrotic eczema all over the hands, systemic allergic reactions and mood changes (I can have the liquid capsules, no problem). Then I realized when my insurance changed, I was allergic to the soy derivative binder in the generic Atarax which I had taken since childhood for allergic reactions. Allegra tablets contain povidone, the same ingredient used for the CT contrast drink and injections, which I had no idea I was sensitive to until I had to drink it for a test a few months ago.

It took me about ten months of doctor after doctor (around 20), twelve ER visits last year, lots of research and trial and error to figure out what went on. In January 2019, I was on Prednisone for a month just to get a break. February was when I really got answers...

For months I took dye-free liquid Cetirizine Hydrochloride (Target brand Zyrtec), since that seemed to be the only one without cane sugar or soy.

Wait, what?! Maya, you're the most allergic girl I know. How are you rarely taking medication? 

It has everything to do with trees, pollen...and what you eat and drink. The lip balms and products you use and ingest. The medicines and supplements you take.

Tomatoes cucumbers bread and cheese platter
Could gluten sensitivity symptoms actually be a cross reaction to birch allergy?

I've realized there is one thing at the core of almost every diagnosis or health issue that is too often overlooked.


Inflammation in the body is linked to numerous chronic diseases; everything from heart disease to autoimmune diseases and cancer. Yet, the focus tends to be on other things than the very thing that could be the true cause of negative shifts in one's health. People turn to supplements that strengthen the immune system, when the answer to absorbing more nutrients, a healthy digestive system and a healthy cardiovascular system often involves knowing what to take away. 

Reduce The Allergic Reactions? Is That Possible?

I had chronic inflammation from various foods I was still eating and I was actually allergic to, along with lots of cross-reactivity happening when I ate many of my favorite foods. I also found out my soy allergy, although it was definitely disappearing (1.12 IgE) soy component testing found it was still possibly anaphylactic. Peanut was still anaphylactic. And I was having something called histamine intolerance. More on that later.

So you might say, "I'm not allergic to soy or peanut. How does this affect me?"

Some people who normally are not allergic to soy are reacting to soy products. So wait. Going back to the undeclared soy in the Zyrtec or in supplements and medication...that could actually make allergies worse? 


If your allergies to the environment are worse than they used to be, you are cross-reacting to foods that cross-react with the pollens or environmental allergens you might be allergic to. Cross reactions are normally referred to by allergists as oral allergy syndrome symptoms.

boy playing Jenga almost as tall as him
A minor reaction can tip the entire tower if you don't know its already high.
If you have ragweed allergy, you might react intensely 12-48hrs after eating bananas and melons. It all depends on the major allergens in your town, what you're allergic to and what allergens are building up in your system. Allergies are kind of like a Jenga game; histamine piles up in the digestive tract and bloodstream from what you eat, drink, breathe and even the products you put on your skin. Too much histamine can result in leaky gut symptoms and histamine intolerance.

Some serious cross-reactions from fruits related to tree pollen do occur. One ER doctor actually mocked me and sarcastically answered me about "pink elephants" when I told him the allergic reactions were more severe when it was cloudy and rained. Others recommended for me to see a psychiatrist when I described numerous symptoms affecting my head and stomach, including black, tar-like diarrhea that had gone on for three full months and almost passing out numerous times (which was due to both dehydration and iron-deficiency anemia that wasn't found until I went to an oncologist for lymph node swelling).

hands clutching stomach as if in pain
Are those stomach symptoms from allergic reactions?

There is absolutely a connection between worsened reactions during thunderstorms due to amplified pollens blowing in the air, which I'll talk about in another post. One study talks about worsened asthma symptoms. Some reactions during extreme weather can be deadly. 

Some people are more sensitive to weather changes than others.
Food allergy kids and adults with allergies are absolutely more sensitive in numerous ways that are not yet understood by much of the medical communities and science. As someone with psychic abilities since childhood, I'll be the first to tell you low barometric pressure weather and solar flare activity can have significant physical and mental health effects on the elderly and the hypersensitive.

If you have a history of anaphylaxis or severe reactions and your doctors or medical professionals think your allergic reactions are all in your head, its time to find new doctors or hospitals.

If you do have a diagnosed peanut allergy or soy allergy, the cross-reactivity is even more dangerous and important for you to avoid, since peanut cross-reactives amplify each other and soy allergy can make other food allergies that might not show on an IgE test. There are even some people who have no detectable environmental allergies and yet, are allergic to the cross-reactive fruits of tree pollens. Everyone is different, so pay attention to your own symptoms.

Enter: Cross-Reactivity

If you have a pollen allergy, ragweed allergy or mold allergy, you might be reacting to foods that cross-react with environmental allergens. For example birch allergen Bet v 1 is also known as a 'pan allergen' which means it cross reacts with completely unrelated plants that have a similar protein structure as Bet v 1.

To put it simply, the body reacts as if you are eating birch pollen when you eat soy, tomatoes, celery, carrots, grapes, potatoes, olives, sunflower seeds, kiwis, plums, almonds and some spices like basil, oregano and dill weed. Notice soy is on that list. The United States is the top soy producing nation in the world. This means that it is hidden in everything.

In my opinion, the combination of hidden soy derivatives in our food system, the rise in pollen counts every year due to global warming and the cross breeding for GMO soy so that they're similar to Brazil nut is exactly what is causing the rise in peanut allergies and tree-nut allergies in the United States and beyond.

camera angle facing someone under bedsheets with feet facing viewer
 #justwokeup #stillexhausted
When you wake up in the morning, do you have bouts of sneezing and your head feels so much pressure you just want to bury yourself back into your pillow because you're still too tired to get up?

Woman's back to us with arms outstretched looking out of a window ready to face world.
If we all could feel like this in the morning, the world would be a better place.

Do you find yourself scratching little itches on your face twenty times within the course of a conversation and wondering if you're allergic to something you put on your face?

Do you feel just miserable in the morning wondering what happened to your cheery disposition? Or maybe you see drastic personality changes in someone close to you that seem to change depending on the day...

Believe it or not, these things are all normal reactions and thoughts of those with environmental allergies and food allergies. Now, if you are completely 100% healthy and feel amazing the second you wake up every day that's a totally different story. I will be the first to tell you that I am two drastically different people during allergic inflammation and when I am well. For a lot of people, inflammation isn't exactly visible to the outside world, but there is no question it will exhibit itself it in various ways.  

The highest birch pollen counts are in the morning along with early evenings so if you find yourself experiencing headaches, congestion, coughing, sneezing, body aches or fatigue upon just waking up, chances are you are dealing with allergies. And the foods you are eating could be the very reason they are so bad, even if your bloodwork showed your IgE to soy or certain fruits were negative. 

Is Your Favorite Drink Causing Inflammation?

light haired woman's back facing us holding a latte looking drink in right hand
Is your daily drink or lip balm causing anxiety?

 Undeclared soy in the form of guar gum in that coconut milk you added to your drink at Starbucks can trigger amplified hay fever symptoms along with chronic fatigue symptoms in those who do not have a IgE-mediated soy allergy but have a birch pollen allergy.  Soy derivatives often hide in the products you add to your drink. Many times coconut milk and other alternative milks contain guar gum as a stabilizer and thickener while 'natural flavors' from soy is often found in syrups and flavorings. Guar gum contains up to 10% soy protein and yet, labels with this ingredient often claim soy-free. Also, if you have a mold allergy, you could be having cross reactivity to coffee due to yeast and mycotoxins in coffee. I avoid coffee and sugar completely on rainy, stormy days or else many of the mold allergy symptoms, mental symptoms, cognitive issues and confusion begin.

carrots, celery, apples
Are raw foods amplifying your birch allergy symptoms?
Eating foods that cross-react with birch like soy, tomatoes, celery, apples and carrots, for example, trigger oral allergy syndrome in 50-75% of the population of people with birch allergy.

Recently, I also found out that olives and olive oil cross react with birch pollen so I switched to non-GMO canola oil for frying and baking.

Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS) might first show up as itching lips and mouth symptoms but can also show up in lesser known other ways like absentmindedness, memory issues, cognitive impairment, anger or irritability and mood changes.

grey haired young man in grey suit defensively holding out a banana like a sword
Does reading that soy-ink laden newspaper or eating lots of fruits make you feel a bit...different?

OAS allergy symptoms usually includes immediate physical itching in the mouth but no studies exist yet for those with birch pollen allergy whom eat cross-reactive foods and have delayed allergic reactions in the form of mental illness symptoms. Minutes to days after, they might experience anxiety, depression, mania, racing thoughts, violent thoughts (especially on low barometric pressure days) or aggression. This is why suicide rates rise in the spring. I believe that all mental health treatment for those with allergy history should begin with an allergist.

Of course, if there are severe symptoms like thoughts of suicide or violence, its time to call a suicide hotline or go to the ER. If its cloudy or raining outside, recognize that sometimes low barometric pressure can affect those who have inflammation and don't know it. Sometimes cutting out cheese and dairy (cheese cross-reacts with mold allergy) is all you have to do to start feeling much better. Along with some talk therapy, of course.

It is just this year that I realized I had been dealing with cross-reactivity allergic reactions since childhood...and didn't know it. It deeply affected relationships. It affected my ability to complete projects and accomplish goals. Inflammation affected every decision I made in every aspect of my life...and I had no idea to what degree, until now.

closeup of newspaper print in foreign language
Is your newspaper causing hand eczema or hay fever symptoms?
I'll never forget, I had an ex about nine years ago who told me I would start fights every Sunday night, like clockwork. Insecurity that didn't exist the day prior would kick in and I would suddenly nitpick and find anything I could to worry about.

That ex thought it was due to separation anxiety but what was really happening was that the newspaper was being opened and read that afternoon in the same room I was in all day.

I was unaware how allergic I was to newspaper ink (which is soy-based) along with the paper pulp (from fir, spruce or poplar).

As I mentioned earlier, the exposure to soy cross-reacts with birch allergy and vice versa, which means an allergy to both amplifies the possibility of a severe allergic reaction to either one. At the time, I had no idea how much being in a room for several hours breathing in allergens affects the brain.

black man's hands holding a Business newspaper
Newspaper allergy is real due to soy ink and tree pulp paper

Over the years, I noticed unintentional inhalation of soy ink and recycled newspaper pulp dust caused bipolar-like ups and downs in my mood, beginning with a highly elevated, manic-like state for a good two to three hours...and then a drop hours later into the next two days.

Then came the sneezing allergy symptoms, some itching and possibly a good ol' yeast infection due to hormonal changes from allergies which changes the PH of the body, often causing candida overgrowth and maybe some stomach issues.

frog statue sitting on toilet with phone
Are you wiping with...allergens?

After eight to ten hours, one might notice symptoms of anxiety, insecurity, irritability (the hormonal changes are similar to PMS, but amplified), anger and extreme fatigue. Within that time, I will have been too tired to keep my eyes open and likely had a two-hour nap. Sometimes what feels like a yeast infection is actually from toilet paper allergy (Some toilet paper and tissues are made from trees and contain dimethicone or soy derivatives like vitamin E that I can't use, so instead, I opt for this bamboo toilet paper and these washable paper towels!).

As you can imagine, the drastic measures taken to avoid all of that is well worth it.

Avoiding soy is incredibly easy when you know what it feels like to feel completely healthy. 

closeup of young woman putting on mascara
Are there beeswax and soy ingredients in your makeup?

Since cross reactivity allergy reactions are cumulative, eliminating cross-reactive foods you have in your system from even cosmetic products like mascara with beeswax and deodorants made with cross-reactive essential oils and fragrances, the closer you can get to relief.

Each allergen amplifies the others causing symptoms like chronic fatigue, itchy eczema and hay fever symptoms...along with lesser known symptoms of allergies such as acid reflux, GERD, stomach issues, leaky gut, hormonal changes, heavy periods, fibroids, cysts, weight gain, body odor (due to amplified stress hormones), agitation, racing thoughts, anger issues, impatience, anxiety, nightmares, paranoia symptoms and depression symptoms.

Not only that, but most soy fillers in medications or in anything are from fermented soy or GMO soy, which will cause a reaction in those whom have histamine intolerance or whom are histamine intolerant. Many people are but do not know it.

For Years, I Thought I Was Gluten Intolerant

In my 20s, I was diagnosed with acid reflux and years later, stomach symptoms after eating wheat worsened. I looked for a gastroenterologist. After hearing my symptoms, he scheduled an upper endoscopy, during which I had a seizure and he found gastritis. For a long time before that, I was told to take Prevacid, not knowing that when taken for long periods of time, proton pump inhibitors used to heal ulcers and reduce stomach acid are linked to celiac disease. More recently, the FDA issued a warning that PPIs are linked to kidney disease. If you must be on something, h2 receptor blockers like Pepcid-AC also known as famotidine, seem to be the safer option. H2 receptor blockers help to block histamine in the stomach and for this reason are often prescribed by allergists along with an antihistamine. Drugs do not cure allergies. They only suppress the symptoms and are a temporary solution.

olive oil being poured into tiny glass container.
Olive oil cross reacts with birch allergies.
Wheat is another big cross reactor for birch pollen and symptoms after eating gluten mimic celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. Yeast is in bread and coffee.  B-vitamins fortified into cereals or flours as well as many in supplements are made from yeast or nutritious yeast and can cause cross-reactions if you have a mold allergy. More intense reactions are more likely on rainy, humid days, especially if you suspect a mold issue in your home.

Cutting down on coffee is one of the hardest things I've ever had to do but since I cannot yet move out, its the one thing that has to go.

Olive oil and olive leaf extract can both cross react with birch pollen. Now, I use primarily non-GMO non-GMO canola oil for cooking.

If you really want to get better and dramatically reduce your seasonal allergy symptoms, you can. Its just a matter of getting the answers you need through allergy testing with a Board-certified allergist or ordering testing yourself if you don't have insurance. Once you have the answers, strictly avoiding the culprits can be life-changing. But first, you need to do a bit of damage control. Here are some of the things that actually helped me during the worst stomach symptoms of my life.

Pay Attention to Stomach Symptoms

Keep a diary of what you eat and drink. Write down the date at the top of the page and write down everything you drink and eat. Write down symptoms after eating as well as a timestamp and how you feel at different times throughout the day. Write down all medications. Write down symptoms after medications. If symptoms are severe, look into getting allergy testing for the top 8 allergens and histamine intolerance.

hand writing in journal
Keeping track of your diet and mood for a month can change your life.

Keeping track of what you eat, drink and put on your skin or lips is a lot of work, but helpful for figuring out patterns and how things affect you later. 

Many times, you won't notice the way you feel is due to something you ate yesterday or two days ago, but sometimes it takes that long to really see what the cause was in the first place. 

It really takes about thirty days for food allergens to go through the entire digestive tract and leave the body through elimination. Be patient but cut out suspected culprits right away. You can always try them again during another month when you are better. It is better to lower inflammation and allow your body time to heal.

doctor's hand writing notes on a form
Go to doctors who listen to you and believe you.
When I did this, I realized I could not take any of the medications my gastroenterologist recommended due to undeclared soy derivatives in the ingredients of the Zenpep, along with strange neurotoxicity symptoms from the citric acid in the Mylanta.

I am grateful when I showed him my allergy testing results he listened to me and agreed that the stomach issues were all due to severe chronic allergies to soy derivatives.

I could tell he genuinely wanted to see me get better as many doctors do...its the reason the good ones get into medicine in the first place.

Once I stopped taking all medications and supplements (including the Ultimate Flora probiotic and softgel capsules, many of which are made of guar gum which contains soy) my stomach began to get better. The Ultimate Flora I took for a long time caused a high histamine response and I was allergic to Align probiotic. If you are not allergic to soy, it could be a good choice, since numerous studies like this show the Bifidobacterium infantis in Align reduces allergy symptoms for those with food allergies and conditions like psoriasis, chronic fatigue syndrome and ulcerative colitis. Another study shows B. infantis helpful for those with shrimp allergy.

Buy Yourself A Dehumidifier

Upon research, I found out that citric acid in most foods is either derived from soy or aspergillus niger, also known as black mold.

Due to such severe allergy sensitivities with everything that was going on, my experience with citric acid from aspergillus niger (which I discovered is in Vitamin Water and numerous drinks on the market) caused strange neurotoxicity symptoms. Does that ingredient cross react with environmental mold allergy for sensitive people?

I'm sure it does.

sunlight outlining and crowning the hair of a girl looking down bringing hope

Life can be amazing.

Especially when it rains, since humidity levels in buildings tend to rise during humid days. Having a dehumidifier for allergies helps alleviate allergy symptoms during the rainy months by discouraging dust mite and mold spore replication.

For those who suspect a mold issue in the home or who live in high humidity conditions a dehumidifier is a must and I highly recommend this one; its the exact model I use. I empty nine gallons of water once in the morning and again at night on some days while in winter, it can be only two cups in a day or none at all.

Everyone has their own unique happy place for what amount of histamines in foods they can handle and what foods make them feel good. What works for one person isn't what works for everybody.  By being honest with ourselves about how we feel and increasing our awareness about the role foods and environment play in our lives, the better choices we can make to bring us to the state of mind that helps us to achieve goals and live a more fulfilling and happy life.

No comments:

Post a Comment