Have you ever heard of the barrel effect? It is a metaphor used to explain the toxic cumulative effects that environmental, physical, and emotional stress, chemicals, and contaminants can have on health. Imagine your body as a barrel filled with things from the past and present and once it becomes too full, inflammation, disease, and allergies manifest. Each person is unique in what they can handle before their barrel overflows.
Rather than mask springtime allergy symptoms with antihistamines and decongestants, a more effective and long-term solution is to address the root cause. Working with diet and lifestyle to reduce toxic load on the body and empty the barrel can provide significant relief. Here's how:
1. Reduce Stress
Chronic stress is associated with an inability to regulate inflammatory response. Stress exacerbates allergy symptoms by increasing histamine release into the bloodstream. Here are three recommendations to ease stress and alleviate symptoms:
- Adaptogens: Enjoy these herbs daily. They work to balance stress hormones and reduce anxiety while promoting energy. Nectar favourites are chaga, shizandra berry, and moringa.
- Exercise: Regular exercise will encourage blood flow in the body to reduce inflammation and clear out allergens. Avoid outdoor exercise around noon as this when airborne pollen is at its peak.
- Sleep & Relaxation: Sleep deprivation can compromise immune function. Commit to 6-7 hours of sleep per night. Make tea with herbs such as lavender, passionflower, and valerian in the evening to prepare the body for rest.
2. Strengthen Digestion
When digestive problems are present, immune system issues like allergies are likely to follow. The gut contains 70% of the immune system and so maintaining strong digestion is essential for building resilience against allergies. Here are three things to incorporate into your diet to improve digestive capacity:
- Probiotics: Eat a variety of fermented foods to replenish gut bacteria. Foods include sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, tempeh, and miso.
- Fats: Consume high quality, anti-inflammatory fats from foods such as grass-fed butter, cold pressed oils, fish, and avocado.
- Cleansing Plants: Support your body’s natural cleansing processes by increasing intake of seasonal vegetables and fruits. This is a great time to try a juice cleanse!
3. Eliminate Toxins
Chemicals are present in our air, water, and food. Each day, the average person is exposed to hundreds of chemicals, the majority of which have been approved for use without adequate testing on human health. Reduce your daily exposure to potentially harmful chemicals by following these recommendations:
- Filter Water: Help to flush out the body by drinking 2-3 litres of filtered water each day.
- Eat Organic: Avoid exposure to chemicals and pesticides with a primarily organic diet.
- Replace Chemical Products: Swap conventional home and body care products with natural, plant-based alternatives. Avoid products with colouring, synthetic fragrances, and any ingredient you can’t pronounce.
Resources and Shopping Guides:
- Guide to Pesticides in Produce
- Guide to Healthy Cleaning
- Cosmetics Database
- Tips for Sleeping Smarter
With Love and Nectar,
Photography by Alexa Mazzarello.