While it is only natural to feel worried once you receive an allergy diagnosis, it is not the end of the world! In fact, most people affected by allergies lead perfectly normal lives. Of course, once you get your diagnosis, the doctor will advise you to avoid your triggers as much as possible. While this will mean making certain changes, it doesn’t need to impact your life too much. So, what exactly will you have to change and how much?
What’s on this page?
Will I have to change my diet?
If you have been diagnosed with a food allergy, you will, of course, have to make certain changes to your diet. As the best way to avoid allergic reactions is to avoid triggers, this is something that is unlikely to be avoided. So, for example, if the allergy test showed that you are allergic to peanuts, you will most likely have to cut them out completely from your diet. But, if you are affected by a different type of allergy, you might also want to consider certain changes of your diet.
Most allergy symptoms are directly linked to the release of a naturally synthesised compound called histamine that is proven to exacerbate the symptoms. Certain foods can contribute to increased levels of histamine even if they do not act as triggers in the conventional sense of the word. So, you are likely to be advised to avoid these foods or at least reduce their intake, especially during the periods when other triggers are commonly present (for example, during spring if you are affected by pollen allergies). Foods known to induce release of excess histamine include:
- Fruit from the citrus family
However, it is important to note that prior to making any radical changes to your diet, you should consult with a doctor. This way, you will ensure that your diet will remain balanced despite the changes you might make.
The Mediterranean diet for food allergy management
The Mediterranean diet is well-known throughout the world, praised for contributing to the health and wellbeing of an individual while providing relief from numerous problems including high blood pressure, obesity, coronary heart disease, eczema, asthma and even food allergies. However, while most media was all too happy to rush and publish articles about this wonder-diet, additional research is needed in order to confirm these assumptions.
The Mediterranean diet is undoubtedly healthy and well-balanced as its characteristic meals are mostly made of fresh fruit and vegetable, fish, nuts and limited amounts of red meat. However, its medical properties are yet to be researched and confirmed.
The use of probiotics
Certain more recent studies have aimed to investigate the possible connection between the health of your digestive and immune systems. As of now, the relation between the two is not thoroughly understood and significantly underexplored so far. While some manufacturers tend to advertise their products as containing ‘good’ bacteria (these products are usually called probiotics), the real usefulness of those is yet to be explored.
However, you might be advised to start using probiotics – not because of their alleged role in boosting the immune system, but because of their ability to compensate for the imbalances that might occur once you change your diet because of food allergies. Of course, after consulting with your doctor, he will either help you make a new dietary plan or refer you to a specialist that will do so. It is important to never alter your diet prior to consulting with a medical professional. You should ensure that your diet is full and well-balanced at all times, meaning that you consume items from all the main food groups.
Do I have to stop exercising if I have allergies?
On the contrary! Partaking in regular exercise and remaining physically active is especially important for those struggling with allergies. However, depending on the nature of your condition, certain precautions might need to be taken and modifications to be made in order to reduce the likelihood of exercise triggering your symptoms.
A significant percentage of those struggling with allergies will experience certain respiratory reactions including, but not limited to:
- Runny nose
- Constricted airways
- Tightness of chest
Almost all of these can be exacerbated by heavy breathing, meaning that your number one concern when exercising should be eliminating this risk. When under physical strain, people tend to start breathing through the mouth. This can cause certain problems due to numerous facts – firstly, the nose acts as a natural filter that also warms the air prior to it entering the respiratory system. In addition to this, breathing in potential allergens through mouth will likely ensure they will get deep into the respiratory system.
Luckily, there are several steps you can take in order to reduce the likelihood of an allergic reaction. These include:
- Warming up
- Taking your medicine prior to commencing exercise
- Check the weather, especially the pollen count and pollution levels
- Be properly equipped – wear suitable clothing and take necessary medication with you (like reliever inhalers or EpiPen devices)
- Be open about your allergy problems with your exercise instructor
If you already experienced symptoms of allergy following physical activity, then you might want to start working out lightly in a safe environment, while gradually increasing the intensity of exercise. Those diagnosed with exercise-induced allergy (abbreviated to EIA) are also advised to exercise, but while paying attention to choose a less intense workout. When it comes to EIA (not to be confused by exercise-induced asthma), it seems that jogging brings the highest chance of allergy exacerbation.
Swimming and allergies
One of the exercises often highlighted as very safe and even beneficial to people struggling with allergies is swimming. Not only is this beneficial as a full body exercise, but the warm, moist air can help reduce the likelihood of respiratory complications. It is also worth noting that it will probably take some time and experimenting with different activities before you find out which ones are most likely to trigger an allergic reaction. In order to thoroughly understand the triggers, you should pay attention to different factors including:
- Time of the day
- Pollen count
Whenever you do experience an allergic reaction, try to remember these details and in time you might be able to establish a pattern, thus making it easier for yourself to avoid triggers in the future.
How will allergy impact my lifestyle?
Certain things that have already been mentioned like regular exercise and balanced diet already are noticeable changes to your lifestyle. However, while they certainly are changes, they are positive as they will contribute to achieving and maintaining a healthy body mass index (BMI). And this is something everyone should care about since exercise and healthy diet have been proven to be very beneficial to people affected by other conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or various other cardiovascular diseases. Finally, some recent studies have proven that obesity can increase the chance of allergies, especially in children, so these lifestyle changes can be viewed as preventive practices too.
However, if there is any other reason you might believe that allergies have an impact on your life or the life of your child, talking to your doctor or allergy specialist might be a good idea since they might offer you valuable suggestions about how to eliminate the negative influence.