Hallelujah Acres’ Vice-President of Health Olin Idol (ND, CNC) wrote a great article about allergies and gut health. We asked Olin to contribute part of his article for today’s blog post: A hypersensitive (over sensitive) immune response is responsible for the increasing occurrence of allergies, which have become the fifth leading chronic disease in the U.S. among all ages and the third most common chronic disease among children under 18. Our bodies are subjected to a daily onslaught of elements from our environment, water, air, and food that impact our immune response. It is imperative that we remain vigilant to avoid these toxins as much as possible and to equip our body with conditions conducive to dealing with them as efficiently as possible. One of the most important influencers of immune system response is the balance of one’s gut flora (bacteria). Our gut is host to over 400 species of bacteria, numbering more than our cells, and weighing approximately 3 to 3-½ pounds! When our “friendly” bacteria dominate, making up about 80 percent of that population, we normally experience optimum immune response and enjoy a high level of health. Elements such as chlorine (in swimming pools, bathing, and drinking water), food preservatives, and antibiotic residual in our food chain can devastate the friendly bacteria while the undesirable (pathogenic) bacteria thrive and become antibiotic-resistant. This overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria may lead to candida, vaginal and urinary tract infections, allergies, thrush, and contribute to what is known as leaky gut, a condition in which undigested food and other proteins penetrate the gut barrier and enter the bloodstream. When this happens, the immune system perceives these intruders as foreign substances and begins to attack them, often leading to a hypersensitive response (allergic reaction). With a significant imbalance in the intestinal flora, normally health-promoting foods such as fruits with natural sugars can feed the undesirable bacteria, allowing it to continue to proliferate. Restoring the favorable balance of friendly flora often takes radical dietary restrictions of all sources of sugars and starchy carbohydrates along with aggressive supplementation with a good probiotic supplement.