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By David Coory

Allergies, such as food allergies, asthma, eczema and hay fever are reaching epidemic levels in New Zealand, especially among children.

An Auckland allergist reports an alarming increase in the last 30 years. Asthma symptoms have reached 33% in Wellington – the highest in the world. Overall a whopping 40% of New Zealanders report having at least one allergy. Over the last 15 years asthma has increased by 50% in New Zealand.

How I overcame childhood hay fever

Fortunately, I don’t presently suffer from any allergies, but as a young teenager I began to get hay fever from rye grass pollen in summer. I eventually noticed that my hay fever would occur after I had consumed sugary food and then walked in the long, seeded rye grass on the farm my Dad managed. That was my first wake up call to the importance of nutrition. I soon learnt that if I didn’t indulge in sugary foods, I didn’t react to the pollen and still don’t. One fact that is perhaps little realised, is that excess sugar can contribute to allergies. Sugar has also been proven to supress our immune system, but in the case of hay fever and asthma, it appears to overstimulate it. Asthma in New Zealand is often linked to dust mite faeces, especially from woollen carpet and bedding. It can also be from a lack of magnesium, zinc and selenium in the diet.

Food allergies and missing probiotics

Most New Zealand food allergies are toward food high in protein such as milk, eggs, peanuts and gluten. The major cause of this is lack of probiotics. Our food needs to be turned into a liquid before it can be absorbed through our intestinal walls and into our blood stream. This is one of the roles of probiotics – the trillions of friendly, digestive gut bacteria, living in the eight metre length of our intestines.

My “Stay Healthy” book (pg 113) explains this more fully, but there are about 30 principal strains of food-digesting bacteria and each strain digests different classes of food i.e. dairy, eggs, wheat, nuts, etc.

Allergic symptoms like wind, yeast infections and irritable bowel syndrome are signs of a deficiency of one or more probiotics. This is often because the type of bacteria needed to pre-digest a class of food has been wiped out by an antibiotic, food preservative or perhaps not acquired at birth. Many children are not exposed to a wide enough range of bacteria as they grow up. This has also been compounded by the modern use of antibacterial hand wipes and excessive cleanliness.

Some of our customers have reported reduced or no allergies after supplementing with multi-strain live probiotics.

Lack of minerals and vitamin D from the sun

Until I reached 40 years of age and began studying nutrition, I used to get frequent, annoying colds or flus. Often about five a year and they would linger on for weeks with much nose blowing and coughing. What made a huge difference and virtually stopped me getting them altogether was to supply my body the immune minerals lacking in our New Zealand diet. The minerals critical for the immune system are mainly magnesium, zinc, selenium, boron and iodine. My immune system could then function as nature intended fighting off infections and as I have now come to realise allergies as well. A simple way of looking at allergies is that our immune system is not functioning as intended and is incorrectly reacting against a perceived invader.

Doctors still repeat what they were taught in medical school, that “a normal balanced diet will give you all the minerals you need", but this is no longer correct. It might have been true 150 years ago, but not today with our modern chemical crop growing methods. See graph above.

Our immune system needs minerals and if they are no longer present in the soil, or are bound up in the soil by applying chemical fertilisers, they are not in our food. So a lack of minerals in our food can contribute to allergies.