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Allergy Prevention: For Mom and Baby

Many women go most of their lives without ever having an issue with allergies…until pregnancy. Pregnancy weakens our immune function to keep our bodies from rejecting our baby, and this weakened immune state continues into early postpartum.  If we are introduced to allergens during this time, it is very possible we can develop an allergic response where we didn’t have one before.  Beyond worrying about ourselves though, as moms, we’re likely hyper-aware of the increase in childhood allergies, and eager to do everything we can to prevent our little ones from experiencing them.  Read on for some simple tips to help prevent and/or treat allergies for mom and baby.

Allergy Prevention Tips for Mom

Adding more of these 5 foods to your diet can help reduce the symptoms of many allergies:

  1. Bone Broth: A lot of allergy reduction comes down to nourishing the gut. Most allergic response to foods occurs because undigested food particles leak through a permeable gut lining and into the bloodstream. Bone broth is excellent for repairing the gut lining with its abundance of healing collagen and amino acids that help with nutrient absorption, mucus reduction, and bile production.  Don’t have the time to make your own bone broth?  Try the Organic Barley + Oats Bone Broth
  2. Whole Grains: Whole grains (you won’t get this from white rice) contain a great deal of healthy plant-based fiber that ferments into butyrate during the digestive process. Butyrate helps ensure there is a good balance of old and new cells in the gut by controlling the growth of those cells that line it.
  3. Probiotics: Probiotics help support digestive function by cultivating a community of healthy gut bacteria to help break down the foods we eat (so those undigested particles don’t leak through). In order for probiotics to be effective though, they need prebiotics to thrive on (like those whole grains mentioned above). Kombucha + a green goddess grain bowl anyone?
  4. Vitamin C: Foods rich in Vitamin C (like bell peppers, guava, leafy greens, broccoli, kiwi, and strawberries) are linked to reduced symptoms for mom and even allergy prevention in baby (when received through mom’s milk). Vitamin C helps to metabolize excess histamine (the compound released in allergic response).
  5. Raw Local Honey: Many people believe that raw local honey can help increase mom’s tolerance to certain local pollens. Make a beeline to the nearest greenmarket mama, (pun totally intended).

Allergy Prevention Tips for Baby

The following tips can help prevent your baby from developing allergies:

  1. If possible, breastfeed for at least 6 months: When it comes to our babies, one thing we know to be true is that breastfeeding is the best feeding for allergy prevention. Especially for the first 6 months.  The star of the show is colostrum. It is full of immunoglobulin A (IgA), which helps to create a protective coating on the membranes of the baby’s intestines, nose, and throat to shield it from pathogens and substances that can trigger an allergic response.  While the concentration of IgA gradually decreases over time, those first 6 months lays the foundation for your baby’s immune system.
  2. Don’t be too quick to eliminate foods from your diet: Sometimes baby isn’t too thrilled with a new food and may react by spitting up or having a bout of diarrhea. Discomfort doesn’t necessarily mean an allergic reaction, and more often than not, the baby is reacting to gassy foods like those high in sulfur (i.e. broccoli and cabbage).  Unless you are already allergic or think you might be based on a reaction you had, eat what you want – just make sure it’s primarily from nutritious whole foods.  Many common allergens (like omega-3 rich walnuts and vitamin E dense almonds ) are sources of important nutrients, and if you are quick to eliminate them, you not only run the risk of missing out on some good nutrition, but you also may increase the likelihood of your baby developing allergies
  3. Begin introducing common allergens into their diet after 6 months: If you or your husband don’t have particular allergies and your baby doesn’t have an elevated risk (due to conditions like eczema, hayfever, asthma), then it’s generally okay to begin introducing common allergens into their diet (like tree-nuts or eggs) after the first 6 months of breastfeeding. Waiting for a long time can actually increase the possibility for an allergic response to occur. Some pediatricians will recommend a longer wait time, so we do advise consulting with your doctor first before introducing any potentially responsive foods to your baby. If your baby does have an allergic response to food, symptoms will usually occur immediately (swelling, hives, itchy throat, runny nose). If this does occur, eliminate the food until you consult with your pediatrician about safe reintroduction. Although rare, if the reaction is more severe and involves restrictive breathing, call an ambulance immediately.