Magryta column: Combating allergies

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 2, 2008

It is that time of year again when many people begin to sneeze and wheeze in beautiful North Carolina. After spending the last nine years caring for children and adolescents with allergic disease, my thoughts and practice have evolved.
Allergic diseases are most certainly genetic and seem to be triggered by environmental factors. The root cause is inflammation that is unchecked. As a population, we spend far too much time treating these illnesses instead of focusing more energy on the prevention aspect.
Medical literature continues to produce evidence that maternal and childhood dietary habits influence disease onset and progression. A 2008 study from THORAX noted that pregnant women who followed a traditional Mediterranean diet were significantly more likely to have children free of allergic disease. Many studies have noted that obese children and adults have poor disease control compared to their more slender peers. The traditional Mediterranean diet is gaining traction in nutritional circles around the world as the diet to reduce inflammation. Traditional Mediterranean diets:
n Are primarily plant-based, with a high intake of vegetables, fruits, bread and cereals, beans, nuts and seeds.
n Use olive oil as the primary source of fat.
n Have a moderate to high intake of fish.
n Have a low intake of dairy products, poultry, and red meat.
If you are what you eat and your diet has been proven to be detrimental to your allergies, it is time to take a hard look at your family’s dinner plate. To learn more about the Mediterranean diet, visit www.mayoclinic.com/health/mediterranean-diet.
I am a firm believer that the use of fish oil and increasing one’s intake of Omega-3 fatty acids is essential for reducing inflammation. The major sources of natural Omega-3 fatty acids are from wild cold water oily fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies and sardines. Walnuts, flax, grass and meat from animals solely fed grass are other good sources.
Mothers who have a history of allergy will be interested to know that two other strategies can be employed to help reduce the development of allergies in their children.
First, avoid the intake of dairy products while breastfeeding or feed your child a protein hydrolysate formula like Alimentum. Second, taking probiotics like Culturelle GG daily for 6 weeks before birth and then feeding them to your infant for 6 months has been shown to reduce the development of allergic diseases, especially eczema.
Avoiding triggers is an essential part of a balanced approach to allergies. Steering clear of your triggers will decrease the need for treatment. Whether it’s putting dust mite covers on your bed or avoiding cats or dairy products, the end result will be beneficial.
For prevention techniques, visit www.aaaai.org/patients/ publicedmat/tips/indoorallergens.stm.
Treatment takes two stages. Primarily, the use of standard therapies including antihistamines or intranasal steroids is very beneficial, as an allergy sufferer will testify. For those non-traditionalists, I would recommend the correct doses of stinging nettles or butterbur for treatment of allergic rhinitis symptoms. Quercetin can be used a few weeks before allergy season develops and throughout the symptomatic time as a preventative choice. Ask your doctor for dosage advice.Finally, I have two important recommendations. Rinse your nose and sinuses with a warm salt water solution to remove pollen and decrease irritation. There are many techniques that can be used. I would direct you to drweilselfhealing.com.
Dr. Christopher Magryta is a pediatrician with Salisbury Pediatric Associates.

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