Are brain allergies really a “thing”?
We are seeing more and more clients complaining of seemingly dis-related symptoms: head pressure, migraines / headaches, feeling “stuffy or swollen” in the head, electrical feeling in the head, runny nose, fatigue, anxiety, gut growling or other gut/bowel issues, gas, etc. Could it REALLY all be allergies?
A small, somewhat controversial body of literature defines a brain allergy as any abnormal reaction to a food or other substance that creates psychological, emotional, or neurological symptoms. So… yes, allergic symptoms CAN go beyond their bothersome impacts on the sinuses or the digestive tract. There are a ton of emotional and behavioral symptoms that can occur alongside an allergic reaction, such as anxiety, agitation, confusion, depression, palpitations, sweating, as well as lack of concentration and mental slowness – or, what is otherwise known as “brain fog.”
For instance, newer research is suggesting there IS in fact a link between brain fog (or brain allergies) and impairments in digestive function. An overwhelming number of clients suffering from either irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), for example, will agree that they experience cognitive changes when they ingest offending foods.
One mechanism by which the brain experiences adverse symptoms during a food allergy or other abnormal digestive processes may be due to a small molecule called zonulin.
When zonulin levels are increased, it has the ability to open up the spaces between the cells of the intestinal lining, causing “leaky gut” and resulting in increased gut permeability as well as a host of alarm bells in the immune system.
A key function of the intestine is to regulate the trafficking of environmental antigens across the host mucosal barrier. Zonulin, surprisingly, can also impact the permeability of the blood-brain-barrier, which is a protective structure in the brain that prevents the passage of certain harmful substances.
Increased permeability of the blood-brain-barrier could lead to “leaky brain,” resulting in symptoms that are characteristic of a brain allergy, such as brain fog, reduced concentration, and inflammation in the head.
The Hippocrates saying, “all disease begins in the gut” still holds true today. Addressing a brain allergy should begin by examining digestive function, nutrient absorption and assimilation, and the involvement of the immune system during the digestive process. Get checked for food allergies and food sensitivities (which are STILL considered an allergic reaction).
The following natural approaches can be taken to help reduce unpleasant cognitive effects associated with leaky gut and allergies:
- Avoid food triggers and allergens. If the inflammation causing cognitive difficulties is starting in the gut, be sure to determine and then avoid food triggers.
- Multiple animal studies support that exercise alters gut microbes, which promotes brain health. Other studies performed in athletes suggest that exercise may promote bacterial diversification in the gut, positively impacting digestion.
- Rebuild the gut lining. L-glutamine is a major fuel source for colonocytes (the cells that make up the digestive tract). Taking L-glutamine in powdered form daily may help decrease intestinal permeability and optimize digestive function. I usually suggest anywhere from 1500 – 3000mg daily.
- Decrease histamine levels. If the brain allergy is caused by a true allergy-mediated immune reaction, high histamine levels will play a role in allergic symptoms. We use HISTABLOCK which is an effective remedy that can reduce histamine and relieve symptoms such as itchy nose, watery eyes, and scratchy throat. (2 each meal)
Foods to avoid:
Wheat based products
Gluten containing grains : barley, rye, bulgur, oats, seitan
Refined oils: canola, sunflower, soybean and safflower oils, olive, avocado, coconut oils
Artificial sweeteners: sucralose, saccharin, aspartame
Junk foods: chips, fast foods, sugary cereals, candy bars, etc
Snack Foods: crackers, popcorn, pretzels, etc
Sauces: salad dressings, soy teriyaki and hoisin sauces
Beverages: alcohol, sugary drinks
Dairy: milk, cheeses, and ice cream and whey proteins
We are Natural HEALTH COACHES: a professional trained to provide lifestyle nutrition and help individuals set and reach their health goals using diet and exercise tools and behavioral psychology principles. Legal: The information provided is not intended as a means of diagnosis or treating illness or as a replacement for any medicine or advice from a competent physician. Individuals having serious health problems should consult a competent licensed physician specializing in their condition. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. We assume no responsibility for anyone choosing to self-administer any suggestions in this publication; they do so on their own determinism. The information in this publication is for educational purposes only. Copyright 2021. All Rights Reserved. Optimum Solutions LLC dba THAT’S HEALTH