Allergy Control through Antioxidants and Digestive Support

Allergies are an abnormal response of the immune system when the body reacts to a normally harmless substance in the environment, such as pollen, animal dander, or food. Almost anything can trigger an allergic reaction, which can range from mild and annoying to sudden and life-threatening.

Sensitivity to allergy triggers can contribute to chronic inflammatory responses throughout the body. Allergy symptoms vary, but may include; breathing problems; burning sensations to the skin; teary, itchy, or swollen eyes; coughing; diarrhea; headache; hives; itching of the nose, mouth and skin.

Phytonutrients are a relatively new class of natural compounds showing tremendous value in controlling inflammation and its negative effect on health. Hundreds of plants naturally produce these compounds, known as flavonoids, carotenoids, polyphenolics and anthocyanins, to protect themselves from oxidative damage. These protective substances are antioxidants that give plants and fruits their color. Citrus fruits, grapes, berries, and green, red and yellow vegetables are all examples of antioxidant-rich foods.

As an antioxidant, phytonutrients have the ability to quench free radicals, which are molecules with an unpaired electron that randomly pull electrons from other molecules. Although the body produces free radicals as part of normal metabolic activity, excessive levels of free radicals create an adverse cycle of cellular events, which may lead to cell damage (aging & disease) or destruction.

Exposure that can contribute to free radical stress can come from the environment, such as air pollution, toxic metals, herbicides and pesticides. Antioxidants such as the vitamins C, E and Beta Carotene are effective free radical scavengers. The minerals Selenium, Copper, Zinc and Manganese also produce antioxidant enzymes in the body. Other potent antioxidants include Grape Seed Extract, Turmeric and Ginger Root, and Gingko Biloba.

Equine diets typically lack these fresh antioxidant compounds. Rarely do most horses have an ample supply of fresh green pastures. Most are fed dried hay and grains. In fact, many horse feeds are highly processed and refined, which further reduces the antioxidants that occur naturally in their native diet.

Supplementing feeds with antioxidant-rich phytonutrients can efficiently protect the horse's body from the damaging effects of free radicals and inflammatory chronic health problems. Antioxidants support the body’s immune system, respiratory and cardiovascular health, and may also help horses with seasonal allergies.

In addition, the modern equine diet is far more pro-inflammatory than in the past if they are processed feeds, or feeds low in fiber and/or void of natural anti-inflammatory nutrients such as phytonutrients and Omega 3 fatty acids such as fish and flax seed oils.

Another significant factor in allergy control or prevention is digestive health. All mammals have a complex system of lymphatic ducts, which provide barriers to infection and play an important role in immune responses. Because 60% of lymph tissue surrounds the digestive tract, it is a main avenue for exposure to foreign substances that could cause illness, so it plays an important role in maintaining a healthy immune system.

Horses have a highly developed, complicated and sensitive GI tract and as a result, the digestive function is easily disrupted. Stress can easily upset digestive function. That includes physical, mental, emotional, chemical, toxic, metabolic, medication or nutritional stresses. All of these can cause inflammation that contributes to immune compromise. Once the inflammation is started, digestion deteriorates, nutrient absorption decreases, and pathogens and toxins can enter the bloodstream, increasing the risk of infection or distress.

High-strength digestive enzymes can help maintain or restore normal function by improving digestive efficiency, absorption function, and have an added anti-allergy benefit. High doses of probiotics help re-establish beneficial gut bacteria by reducing pathogenic bacteria and their toxins, thus reducing inflammation, and aiding digestion.

In conclusion, effective outcomes for allergic reactions can be obtained from non-invasive, nutritional intervention with the supplementation of antioxidants and digestive support.

Jack Grogan, CN, has worked extensively in the fields of biology, biochemistry and nutrition, is an expert in tissue mineral balancing, and has experienced notable success in balancing mineral chemistry to strengthen the basic metabolism and improve efficiency in horses.

About the Author

Jack Grogan, CN

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