Yes, fibre really is your friend!
With this hayfever season seeing pollen counts soar above average, those who suffer from allergies battle through each day.
But, what if among all the other remedies, there was one sitting in your pantry? Dr. Emma Beckett molecular nutritionist from the University of Newcastle and Nicole Dynan, The Gut Health Dietitian, reveals how trusty fibre can help ease hayfever.
How is fibre effective in helping hay fever?
Hayfever and allergies are a result of an over-reactive inflammatory response in the body, Emma explains.
"The severity of inflammation is regulated by the bacteria living in our gut, called the microbiota. Bad bacteria cause inflammation and good bacteria reduce inflammation," she adds.
Given the good bacteria helps keep allergic responses in check, you need to fuel it to help it grow and foods rich in fibre do just that.
"The average Australian doesn’t eat the recommended amount of fibre, and we now suspect that increasing rates of allergies might be related to modern low-fibre diets," Emma reveals. "Regardless of allergy status, it is good for all of us to eat more fibre-rich food."
How can we include fibre in our diet?
The best way to include fibre in our diet to help with allergy symptoms is to add fibre-rich foods into our daily meals, Nicole says.
"Making eating fibre an everyday habit ensures that you are more likely to nurture your inner community of bacteria. It's easier than you think," she tells. "Simply start the day with a high-fibre breakfast cereal like All-Bran; you could then have nuts and fruit for a snack; a chicken and salad wholegrain sandwich for lunch and a chickpea and vegetable curry with brown rice for dinner. That way you will tick off a large variety of fibre types from cereals, whole grains, fruit, veggies, nuts and legumes, which are all key for a healthy gut."
What symptoms can it help and how?
Nicole also reveals that controlling symptoms stretches beyond the regular runny nose and itchy eyes.
"There is now evidence linking fibre intake to other conditions like asthma, food allergies and conditions where people might not even realise inflammation is involved, like diabetes and heart disease," Nicole explains. "It all comes down to our bacteria. Bad bacteria cause inflammation and good bacteria reduce inflammation. High-fibre diets can help feed the good bacteria to help them do more of their good work in reducing inflammation. Research now suggests that healthy gut bacteria and high-fibre diets could be the key to reducing inflammation and helping with symptom control and these health problems too."
Emma agrees saying that increasing fibre intake has been shown to reduce the inflammatory markers involved in allergies, and those who eat more fibre are less likely to have allergies.
"Just how this happens isn’t clear yet, but it is likely that the good bacteria make chemicals that are absorbed into our blood and travel to other organs and interact with tissues and cells, including immune cells," she adds.