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Gut and Allergies: Is There a Connection?

By Nicole Sell  •   July 31, 2023
•    Medically Reviewed By Dr. Christine Bishara, MD - Nov 20, 2023

Photo Credit: by Billion Cheers, Flickr.com
Photo Credit: by Billion Cheers, Flickr.com

An often overlooked part of our health, the gut houses roughly 70% of our immune system and acts as the frontline in our bodies' defense against diseases. It's here that a delicate balance of bacteria - both beneficial and harmful - orchestrates a large portion of our health and well-being. When this balance is upset, it can lead to a myriad of issues, not the least of which is allergies.

Allergies are an overreaction of our immune system to substances that are typically harmless. These substances, or allergens, can come from our food, the environment, or be part of the changing seasons. They trigger a cascade of immune responses that cause symptoms ranging from mild discomfort, such as sneezing or skin rashes, to serious life-threatening reactions.

In this post, we'll delve into the intriguing world of our guts, unpack the complexities of allergies, explore the connection between the two, and offer practical advice on maintaining a healthy gut to minimize allergy symptoms. So, buckle up for an exciting journey into the remarkable realm of the microbiome and its significant impact on our overall health, particularly allergies.

Understanding the Gut

To begin our exploration of the gut-allergy connection, we first need to comprehend the marvel that is our gut and its microscopic inhabitants. The gut, also known as the digestive tract, is more than a food-processing unit of our body. It's a complex system comprising various organs, each having specific roles in digesting food, absorbing nutrients, and eliminating waste.

A key aspect of the gut, and the central focus of our discussion, is the gut microbiome. This is the term used to describe the diverse community of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi, that reside in our gut. Astonishingly, these microbial cells outnumber our own human cells, and the genetic material they contain, known as the microbiome, is immensely more diverse than our own human genome.

These microscopic residents aren't idle freeloaders; they're instrumental to our well-being. They aid in digestion, particularly of fibers and other complex carbohydrates, produce vital nutrients like vitamin K and some B vitamins, and play an essential role in our immune function. In essence, a balanced and diverse gut microbiome is vital for our overall health.

However, gut health isn't only about the quantity and variety of microbes. It's also about maintaining a delicate balance. When this balance is disturbed - a state called dysbiosis - it can negatively impact our health, leading to digestive issues, mental health problems, and, as research suggests, allergies.

But how exactly does this microbiome influence allergies? This intriguing question takes us to our next section, where we'll delve into the complexities of allergies.

Unpacking Allergies

Before we can fully understand the correlation between gut health and allergies, we need to examine what allergies are, their different types, and how they manifest in the body.

Allergies are an overreaction of the immune system to a substance that is typically harmless. These substances, or allergens, can come from our food, the environment, or be part of the changing seasons. They trigger a cascade of immune responses that cause symptoms ranging from mild discomfort, such as sneezing and skin rashes, to serious life-threatening reactions.

There are a few main types of allergies, such as food allergies, environmental allergies, and seasonal allergies. Food allergies occur when your body mistakes something in food for a threat and creates antibodies against it; environmental allergies happen when you’re exposed to something in your surroundings like pollen or pet dander; and seasonal allergy symptoms arise due to exposure to airborne allergens during certain times of the year such as springtime tree pollen or fall ragweed pollen.

No matter the type, allergies share a common pathway; they're triggered by a faulty immune response that produces irritant substances like histamine and other chemicals. This reaction causes an array of uncomfortable symptoms, including itchy eyes, runny nose, coughing, sneezing, hives, and in severe cases, anaphylaxis.

Connecting the Dots: The Gut and Allergies

At its core, gut health is key to effective immune functioning. When we have a balanced and diverse microbiome with sufficient beneficial bacteria, our immune cells can better differentiate between foreign substances (allergens) and harmless ones. This helps prevent misguided responses that lead to allergic reactions.

Research has unveiled an intricate link between gut health and allergies. Many studies indicate that a healthy gut, rich in diverse and balanced microorganisms, is vital for a robust immune system, which in turn, can defend against allergens more effectively. The 'hygiene hypothesis' explains this phenomenon; as our environments become excessively sterilized, our immune systems don't get enough exposure to diverse microbes. This lack of microbial interaction can result in an overreactive immune system, leading to allergies. Thus, our gut's health, the central hub of our microbial population, directly affects our allergic responses.

On the other hand, if our gut health is out of balance (dysbiosis) due to things like antibiotic use, poor diet choices, or chronic stress, it can increase inflammation and weaken our immune system. This can raise our susceptibility to allergies and their severity.

It's worth noting that research in this area is still in its infancy; more studies are needed to establish a clearer cause-and-effect relationship between the microbiome and allergies. Nevertheless, considerable evidence suggests a healthy gut plays an essential role in mitigating allergy symptoms.

Prevention and Treatment: Empowering Choices

The gut-allergy connection offers a powerful opportunity for us to take charge of our health and well-being. It's essential that we prioritize prevention by focusing on creating a healthy gut through dietary choices, lifestyle modifications, and the use of probiotics.

When it comes to diet, make sure you are eating plenty of prebiotic foods like onions, garlic, leeks, artichokes, and bananas. These foods are packed with fiber that acts as food for our beneficial bacteria. Additionally, consider adding probiotic-rich fermented foods such as kimchi and sauerkraut to your meals; these are rich in live cultures that can help replenish beneficial bacteria in the gut.

Other lifestyle changes you can make include reducing stress, getting adequate sleep, and avoiding antibiotics or other medications that can disrupt the microbiome. In addition to these preventive measures, there are a few allergy treatment options. Common allergy medications, such as Xolair, and Singulair are designed to reduce inflammation and block the effects of substances that cause allergic reactions. Always consult a healthcare professional before starting, changing, or discontinuing any medical treatment.

For people with milder cases of allergies, over-the-counter antihistamines may help reduce symptoms. For more serious reactions, your doctor may prescribe an epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen) to carry with you in case of anaphylaxis. However, for those looking to address the root cause of their allergies, gut-related solutions could be especially beneficial.

Practical Tips for Improving Gut Health and Reducing Allergies

There are many ways to improve gut health and reduce the risk of allergies. Here are a few practical tips you can try:

● Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.

● Reduce your intake of sugary and processed foods, as they can disturb the balance of bacteria in the gut.

● Eat plenty of prebiotic-rich foods, such as onions, garlic, and bananas.

● Include probiotic-rich fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut in your diet.

● Reduce stress levels by engaging in relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, or deep breathing.

● Optimize your sleep habits to get 7–9 hours of restful sleep per night.

● Another thing that can help with healing your gut and minimizing allergies is restricting eating times to less than 12 hours per day to give your gut time to rest.

● If you are prescribed antibiotics, take a probiotic supplement to replenish beneficial bacteria in the gut.

● Avoid triggers such as pet dander, mold, and pollen if they cause allergic reactions.

By making these simple changes, you can empower yourself to create a healthy gut environment that reduces your risk of allergies. It's important to remember that allergy treatments are individualized, so talk to your doctor for specific advice and guidance on improving your gut health and reducing allergy symptoms.


The links between gut health and allergies have been increasingly studied in recent years, revealing the crucial role our microbiome plays in immune functioning. As we continue to uncover more information about the gut-allergy connection, it's important to remember that we each have a unique microbiome. Being mindful of our diet and lifestyle choices can help us create an optimally balanced gut environment so that our bodies are better equipped to fight off allergens before they cause uncomfortable symptoms.

By understanding the relationship between the gut and allergies, we can empower ourselves with knowledge and choices to protect ourselves from allergies. With the right tools, we can take control of our health and create a healthy gut environment that reduces our risk for allergies



The purpose of the above content is to raise awareness only and does not advocate treatment or diagnosis. This information should not be substituted for your physician's consultation and it should not indicate that use of the drug is safe and suitable for you or your (pet). Seek professional medical advice and treatment if you have any questions or concerns.