What Causes Allergies?

Published
04/01/2013 by

Causes Of Allergies

Allergies are over-zealous immune reactions that are directed against substances that the body mistakenly labels as harmful. These substances, known as allergens, are not the cause of allergies, but they instead are triggers. Allergy triggers include everything from molds (which is why many people are allergic to penicillin) to dog drool, to latex gloves.

The children of allergy sufferers are genetically predisposed to be allergic, themselves. They may not have the same allergies but are likely to develop allergies to some substances. Food allergies have been linked to a recessive gene.

Beyond genetics, what are the underlying causes of allergies?

The most widely accepted theory today is that all allergies are essentially a reaction against certain proteins. When an allergic reaction occurs, the body mislabels otherwise harmless proteins as dangerous pathogens that need to be attacked. The immune system kicks into high gear against allergens and creates antibodies to them, including immunoglobulin E (IgE). The IgE creates mast cells, which release histamine.      

Since histamine is responsible for allergy sufferers’ woes, antihistamines are often used to grant allergy sufferers short-term relief. Excess histamine causes red, itchy, watery eyes, coughing, and wheezing. Besides the cold-like symptoms, histamine is also responsible for hives, rashes, eczema, and the life-threatening anaphylaxis. Future exposure to the allergen will provoke the same antibody reaction. Therefore, when you come into contact with the allergen again, you will experience an allergic reaction.

In the natural health community, many experts subscribe to the idea that multiple food allergies are caused by a condition called leaky gut syndrome. In a nutshell, a “leaky gut” has damaged lining, which increases its permeability. Experts speculate that the intestinal lining deteriorates due to various circumstances, such as toxins, infections, the standard American diet (which has the appropriate acronym of SAD), and the overuse of antibiotics.

The heightened permeability of the intestinal lining allows toxins, undigested food waste, and completely or partially digested foods to pass directly into the bloodstream, resulting in inflammation. According to the theory, allergic symptoms result from this inflammation.

The leaky gut theory proponents believe that allergies are more widespread now than they used to be because of the increasingly unhealthy diet that people are eating and exposure to a multitude of chemicals that did not even exist one-hundred years ago. Although avoiding all chemicals is impossible, these health advocates at least advise cleaning up the diet. Infants should be breastfed to provide the most hypoallergenic food possible. In addition, unnatural foods, such as margarine, should be avoided.

Margarine is literally one molecule removed from plastic and is one of the worst things you can eat. It is thought to be a key trigger to the inflammation response. Butter, a natural food, is friendlier to the system. Dairy products in general, however, are also implicated in the development of allergies, so it may be best to substitute olive oil for butter.

People with allergies often do not want to consider the causes of allergies; they just want relief. However, understanding the causes of allergies is the first step to coping with them successfully and to keep them from getting worse.