Are Allergies Causing Your Digestion and Memory Problems – And Making You Age Faster?

Steve Kroening, ND
October 9, 2019


Did you know that allergies are directly related to aging? In fact, the older you get, the more likely you are to suffer from more and even worse allergies. And this produces a terrible cycle, as the allergies can make you look and feel older than your years. They may even play a role in digestive problems and Alzheimer’s.

The good news is, you can reduce your allergies – and doing so will help you feel better, look younger, and make your entire body act years younger. What’s more, you might just be able to throw those expensive allergy medications in the trash.

Aging begins when your body starts to break down. This can happen at any age. If you've been a junk-food junkie, you may have a deteriorating digestive system in your 20s or 30s. You need a healthy diet, along with good digestion, to stay young and vital.

Every cell in your body depends on getting enough of certain nutrients. Your digestive system controls the health of your cells and how well your body functions. As I said last week, “you are what you take in and remove.” And for your digestive system, that means you need to eat nutrient-rich food that you can digest and absorb without causing damage in your gut.

The removal part of this is absolutely vital too. If you have digestive problems, you may be constipated or suffer from regular diarrhea. Your doctor may diagnose irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), leaky gut, or any number of digestive disorders. That’s simply a description of what’s happening in your gut. The diagnosis doesn’t necessarily tell you what caused the problem.

The cause in many of these digestive problems is more often than not allergies. That’s right! A compromised digestive system is often a clear sign that allergies have developed. This is why allergies often increase over time. The more compromised your digestive system becomes, the more allergies you develop – and the more the allergies damage your gut. The cycle is devastating.

But allergies don't just make your gut feel miserable. They can lead to headaches, chronic fatigue, depression, weight gain, asthma, memory problems and many other health problems. In fact, I just read a story of a woman who significantly improved her Alzheimer’s simply by changing her diet.

Sylvia’s Story

Sylvia is 82 years old and began to develop multifactorial Alzheimer's disease in 2016. The disease was progressing rapidly. And any medications she took only slowed it down for a short period of time.

Her son Mark says things got bad fast. At one point, Sylvia was in the hospital and she tried to call the police, “alleging she had been kidnapped and was being held against her will. Another time, she was causing chaos on the ward by complaining loudly that this was the worst hotel she had ever stayed in. She declared to never again patronize this establishment. (It wasn't amusing at the time!) The senior nurse asked me if I would consent to my mother being detained under the Mental Health Act, for her own safety.”

Mark and Sylvia knew they needed to do something different, so they decided to completely change her diet. Instead of eating refined sugar and sugary drinks, fried foods and “fast food,” and pastries, cakes, and sweets, she ate only healthy foods. These included berries (especially blueberries, blackberries and strawberries), leafy green vegetables (spinach and kale), and sweet potatoes, carrots, swede, and more. She also walked regularly, socialized daily, and did crossword puzzles and other brain games.

Mark said, “Little by little, day by day, we managed to turn things round. It was no quick fix.... I slowly got my mum back. Her memory is improving all the time. She is more alert and engaged. She is basically her old self again.”

Allergies Beget Allergies

Since doctors didn’t do any allergy testing on Sylvia, we don’t know conclusively that her Alzheimer’s was due to food allergies. But the clinical evidence suggests that it was. The change in her diet made a tremendous difference in her overall health, particularly her mental health.

What most people don’t realize is that there is a connection between food and airborne allergies. People with severe allergies to molds and pollens usually have food allergies as well – even when they're not aware of them. When their food-allergy symptoms improve, so do their reactions to airborne substances. So don’t dismiss your allergic reactions as being a minor discomfort.

What Can You Do?

Like Sylvia, the first thing you have to do is improve your digestion and make sure your allergies don’t progress to unnecessary or premature illnesses. Here are a few easy-to-follow steps that will help you reverse your allergies and repair your gut.

You may have taken one or all of the steps below in the past. But you’ll have a difficult time reducing your allergic symptoms unless you do all of them at once. Doing so will help you feel better and slow down your aging process at the same time.

Two Ways You Damage Your Digestion

There are two common ways that we damage our guts.

(1) Eating a lot of sugar contributes to inflammation throughout your digestive tract. It also feeds bad bacteria, such as Candida albicans. The result is often a condition called intestinal permeability, or “leaky gut syndrome.” During the holiday season, we tend to eat more sugar. So stop eating it now before the holiday season gets here. You won’t be as tempted when those sugar cookies come calling.

(2) Eating the same foods over and over can deplete your digestive enzymes. Then, the foods you eat don’t get broken down into small enough particles to get into your cells. These particles can irritate and damage your intestines. It’s easy to get into an eating rut, especially if you crave certain foods. Often, these are precisely the foods you need to avoid.

A food allergy triggers an immune response every time you eat a particular food. Most of us only have food sensitivities. After you repair your digestive tract, you may be able to eat foods that caused your sensitivity – just not in huge quantities. But first, let’s repair your digestion and reduce your allergies.

Begin With the Foods You Eat

How many times have you heard someone say, “I used to be able to eat that, but now it just doesn’t agree with me”? Chances are this is because your digestion isn’t as good as it used to be. To reduce your allergic reactions, you first need to avoid eating irritating foods.

The most common food allergies are to wheat, cow's milk, sugar, corn, eggs, and peanuts. Of course, this includes all products made with these ingredients.

It's tricky. If you're sensitive to corn, you need to avoid all foods with cornstarch or high fructose corn syrup. Time to read labels carefully! Completely avoid the food or foods you think may be causing some of your symptoms for four weeks.

You may be sensitive to several foods. Begin by choosing just one or two that you eat frequently. It doesn't have to be one of the seven listed above. Citrus, NutraSweet, and nuts can also trigger allergic responses. I once heard about a young boy who had a complete personality shift and became hyperactive whenever he ate bananas!

Help flush out toxins by drinking pure, filtered water throughout the day. Exercise daily, even if only for 15 minutes. A brisk walk helps increase your circulation, which increases your excretion of toxins.

Drink a liver/gallbladder flush. I used to do a harsh flush that worked extremely well. Now I use a formula that tastes better and is an excellent liver cleanser. Here’s all you have to do: Take an organic lemon and chop it into pieces (rind, seeds, etc.) and blend it for one minute or more with one-and-a-half cups of water and one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. The drink will be frothy and not too acidic. You can drink this daily for up to two weeks. Add a little Stevia if you need to improve the taste.

Eat a detox diet. Avoid foods that add toxins to your body. These can include deep fried foods, caffeine, alcohol, lunch meats, and chemicals found in prepared foods. Whenever possible, eat organic foods. Limit your fats to a little olive oil and raw nuts. Eat the best quality foods you can find.

Repair Your Intestines and Reverse the Allergic Process

Once you start eating the right foods and remove toxins in your body, you’ve taken the first steps to reverse this vicious cycle of allergies and aging. Now it’s time to take active steps to repair your gut and reduce the inflammation in your intestinal linings. There are three supplements vital in helping you repair your digestive tract: probiotics, enzymes, and glutamine.

There are three probiotics on the market that I recommend for treating serious gut issues. It’s good to use them all – alternating every few months. These three are Dr. Ohhira's Probiotics 12 Plus, Natren's Healthy Trinity (both in health food stores), and Advanced Probiotic Formula.

Digestive enzymes are helpful if your body is no longer making enough of them. As we age, our bodies don’t produce enzymes as well. It's often helpful to take enzymes after meals for three or four months. Don't become dependent on them. But if you're not digesting your food well, they could help you over this bump in your road to revitalization.

Finally, take 250-500 mg three times daily of glutamine. This amino acid helps repair your intestinal lining. It’s good to eat foods that are high in glutamine, such as green vegetables and legumes, as well.

Other Supplements That Can Help Fight Allergies

For overall treatment of allergies, you can boost your resistance to seasonal allergies by improving your nutrient intake. Start with a multivitamin to ensure that you get vitamin A (10,000-15,000 IU/day), selenium (200 mcg/day), zinc (20-30 mg/day), vitamin B6 (50-100 mg/day), vitamin B5 (50-75 mg/day), and vitamin E (800 IU/day) for immune support.

In addition to basic immune support, the selenium, zinc, and vitamin A help protect mucous membranes, which are usually inflamed during allergic reactions. Why is it so important to safeguard these membranes? These tissues provide our frontline defense against allergens, microbes, and pollution.

Research suggests that overactive mucous membranes, which are constantly fighting off the effects of pollution, toxins, and allergens, eventually grow more vulnerable to allergic reactions.

For quick relief, vitamin C helps, along with such antioxidant flavonoids as Pycnogenol and quercetin. All of these are natural antihistamines, and they won’t make you drowsy. They work great.

Early in the 20th century, it was discovered that vitamin C was useful in the treatment of allergies. Vitamin C’s usefulness in allergy treatment stems from the fact that it lowers levels of histamine in the body. In one study, people who had either low vitamin C levels or elevated blood histamine levels were given one gram of vitamin C daily for three days. Blood histamine levels dropped in every individual. In another study, vitamin C decreased hay fever symptoms in three out of four patients.

Quercetin is one of the most powerful natural antihistamines we have. In many studies, quercetin effectively stopped allergic reactions by inhibiting the release of histamine from mast cells. Quercetin works great as a preventive measure. So make sure you start taking it before the allergy season begins and continue it through the season. But quercetin also helps reduce the body’s response to food allergies. So it’s good to take daily. You’ll need to take 500 mg of quercetin daily.

Also start taking N-acetyl cysteine or NAC. NAC neutralizes free radicals and it soothes inflamed lungs and nasal passages. NAC may be one of the best expectorant/mucolytic agents. As a disulfide-reducing agent, NAC can decrease the viscosity of mucus providing a mucoregulating action. I suggest taking 400 mg three times a day.

Using these supplements along with the steps outlined above, you can begin to reverse the allergies you suffer from – whether they are food or airborne allergies. And, when you do all of this together, you can reverse the damage done by allergies, stop the vicious cycle of degeneration, and even slow the aging process.


Archives of Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery, February 2006.

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