droplets in water in a bucket

Are you in the midst of seasonal allergies? Do you react to many foods? Do you feel like you’re allergic to your environment?

droplets in water in a bucketThe barrel effect explains why it can seem that a person suddenly becomes allergic to one or many things, and just as suddenly, no longer is/as reactive.  Picture a barrel. That’s your capacity to handle stressors—be it nutritional, chemical, physical, emotional or otherwise.   If the barrel is only partially filled, there are no allergic symptoms.  For example, if you have seasonal allergies then you know that if the pollen count is low, you may not even sneeze that day.  However, when the pollen count rises above the level that you can tolerate it, your hayfever symptoms will start.  Your barrel has overflowed.

Most people’s barrels are filled with a large combination of substances, such as chemicals, foods, dust, pollen, viruses, yeasts, and parasites.   If the person becomes over-exposed to one or more of these substances at a time,  the contents of the barrel overflow. Often, the last thing that went into the barrel is what is blamed as the culprit, but that is an over-simplified way of looking at it. It is the sum of all irritants that decides whether you will react strongly or not at all.  For instance, you may be able to keep your pet cat if you adhere to a hypo-allergenic diet, have the mould in your basement taken care of, dust the house more often, get enough sleep and/or get an air purifier.

The best relief from this cycle is obtained by:

  1. Draining the barrel: supporting the body’s natural processes of elimination.
  2. Reduce the inflow into the barrel: limiting exposure to high-risk allergens and toxins
  3. Making the barrel larger: improve tolerance for high-risk allergens by fortifying the diet, and getting adequate rest.

White paint flows into the manhole. Pollution metaphorYour barrel gets smaller, i.e. has reduced capacity when you develop an infection, eat junk food, or you get overwhelmed with stressors in your life. A divorce, death or illness of a loved one, moving house or job loss are just some of the most stressful circumstances that can reduce the size of your barrel.

A nutritionist can help you ensure that your diet is nutrient-dense so that your tolerance for common allergens and contaminants can improve.  Many holistic nutritionists will also provide lifestyle advice to reduce stressors that add to your barrel.  It’s up to you and and how well you are coping with your allergies. How big is YOUR barrel? A nutrition and lifestyle analysis can help you arrive at an answer, and a solution.

By Andrea

Leave a Reply