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Behind the Scenes... The Blondie Mania Blog

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    Posted on May 29, 2016 by Grandala.



    As a child in my weird moment of thinking “I want to be in your gang”, I can remember having pangs of “I wish I had hay fever”, as all my friends were sneezing at the first whiff of grass (bonkers, I know). Roll on twenty and a few years and the story is somewhat different… Sharing your life with someone who has severe hay fever, I now see just how debilitating it is when those naughty male plants and trees decide its time to spread their seeds!


    According to statistics 1 in 4 people suffer from Hay fever, which is a hell of a lot, so what is it all about…? Hay fever is an allergic reaction to Pollen, a fine powder released by plants as part of their reproductive cycle. It contains proteins that can cause the nose, eyes, throat and sinuses (small air-filled cavities behind your cheekbones and forehead) to become swollen, irritated and inflamed.


    Allergic reactions occur when the immune system overreacts to normally harmless substances such as pollen. Substances that cause an allergic reaction in an individual are called allergens. IgE antibodies, which sit on the surface of mast cells, trigger the mast cells to release histamine in large quantities when they encounter an allergen. Excess histamine causes an extreme inflammatory response, or an allergic reaction, such as hay fever.


    Therefore, all this excessive histamine in the body is what prompts the need for Anti-Histamines to try and ease the symptoms. However, this is a double edged sword as what Anti-Histamines do is only block the histamine, it doesn’t make it go away, it acts as a temporary plaster, but not a long term solution to the root cause.


    Histamine is present in many parts of human tissues, stored in mast cells, which in right proportions is healthy for our immunity, our neurotransmitters to send messages through the body, our memory, wound healing, gastric acid secretion, bowel movement and blood vessel dilation. Sounds good right….? However, overload the body (these levels vary from person to person), it can prompt allergic symptoms or histamine intolerance.


    We have for 4 histamine receptors H1, H2, H3 and H4 that lie on the surface of these mast cells and are what are responsible for secreting histamine. Anti-Histamines block the H1 and H2 receptor, but do not affect the H3 and H4 receptors, so any histamine overload is left to do their damage on these receptors instead and the symptoms associated with these receptors will still be present.


    Histamine Receptors and their Functions


    • H1: Itching, airway constriction, regulating circadian cycle (i.e. sleep cycle), contracting small intestine, eye contraction
    • H2: Gastric acid production, smooth muscle relaxation, blocks antibody synthesis, vasodilation (widens blood vessels), blocks antibody synthesis
    • H3: Decreases release of neurotransmitters in central nervous system
    • H4: Moves mast cells towards inflammation


    Because antihistamines do NOT stop histamine from affecting H3 and H4 receptors, people taking them commonly have mood problems like depression.  Since H4 receptors are located mostly in bones, people taking antihistamines also commonly experience bone pain.


    That said, I am certainly not advising against antihistamines as when histamine takes hold it can be the only thing to find immediate relief, but the fact remains that they are only suppressing a problem and not curing it.


    This was an article I found particularly interesting:-


    Why Antihistamines Aren’t the Solution to Histamine Intolerance - Hollywood Homestead


    What is the Answer…..?


    Well I certainly wish I had the magical answer, but sadly I don’t. Having spent sometime trying to piece together the pollen puzzle in an attempt to help my significant other’s progressively hideous hay fever symptoms, I have learnt what a complicated issue it is. The antihistamine conundrum for one, is something I would not have thought of a few years ago and yet, this will be, 9 times out of 10, the automatic answer for most people and the prescription you are likely to be given if you head to your GP.


    What is 100% clear is every body is different and there is no one method that fits all, but there has been lots of evidence to suggest that making some dietary changes can significantly relieve the symptoms and onset of misery when hay fever strikes.


    Foods to Avoid


    As a hay fever sufferer if you are wondering why you get a scratchy, irritable sensation at the back of your throat when you bite into a juicy apple, this is because there are a number of foods (annoyingly many that are seen as good for you) that contain proteins that cross react and mimic those found in pollen, thus confusing the immune system that it is ingesting an allergen – triggering histamine haywire mode! This can result in a diagnosis for hay fever sufferers of something known as Oral Allergy Food Syndrome, where many foods cause this cross-reaction.


    Although not everyone with a pollen allergy experiences Oral Allergy Food Syndrome when eating the following foods, they are commonly associated with these allergens:


    • Birch pollen: apple, almond, carrot, celery, cherry, hazelnut, kiwi, peach, pear, plum.
    • Grass pollen: celery, melons, oranges, peaches, tomato.


    I found the following articles very useful when learning more on Oral Allergy Food Syndrome:-





    The good news is, with the exception of celery, it appears that the issue is only when the foods are in their raw state. Again, this is individual from person to person, but cooking the fruit or vegetable breaks down the protein associated with the cross-reaction, therefore making it safe again.


    The friend and foe that is histamine plays such an active roll in allergies, therefore common sense prevails that when allergies strike, we should try and ensure our diet is a low in histamine one.


    High Histamine Foods to Avoid


    • Alcohol
    • Pickled or canned foods – sauerkrauts
    • Matured cheeses
    • Smoked meat products – salami, ham, and sausages….
    • Shellfish
    • Beans and pulses – chickpeas, soy beans, peanuts
    • Nuts – walnuts, cashew nuts
    • Chocolates and other cocoa based products
    • Vinegar
    • Ready meals
    • Salty snacks, sweets with preservatives and artificial colourings


    Histamine Liberators (food that trigger the body to produce histamine and therefore should be avoided)


    • Most citric fruits – kiwi, lemon, lime, pineapple, plums…
    • Cocoa and chocolate
    • Nuts
    • Papaya
    • Beans and pulses
    • Tomatoes
    • Wheat germ
    • Additives – benzoate, sulphites, nitrites, glutamate, food dyes


    Foods Low in Histamine – the Good Guys!


    • Fresh meat (cooled, frozen or fresh)
    • Freshly caught fish
    • Chicken (skinned and fresh)
    • Egg yolk
    • Fresh fruits – with the exception of strawberries, most fresh fruits are considered to have a low histamine level
    • Fresh vegetables – with the exception of tomatoes
    • Grains – rice noodles, yeast free rye bread, rice crisp bread, oats, puffed rice crackers, millet flour, pasta (spelt and corn based)
    • Milk substitutes – coconut milk, rice milk
    • Cream cheese, butter (without the histamine generating rancidity)
    • Most cooking oils – check suitability before use
    • Most leafy herbs – check suitability before use
    • Most non-citric fruit juices


    For more information on histamine, I found a good reference, although please bear in mind histamine intolerance is very different to hay fever and allergies and requires a separate diagnosis. My point is simply that when allergies strike it makes sense to try and keep our histamine intake lower. A histamine free diet is not possible.




    This is also best avoided for hay fever sufferers due to the fact it is mucus forming and can therefore aggravate the already thick and tight feeling at the back of the throat. There are loads of dairy free alternatives to milk these days that I personally find really tasty. Try rice, oat or coconut milk instead. Goat or sheep cheese is also a better option and kinder on the digestive system.





    This cross-reacts with grass pollen and so from personal experience this has been an issue, causing itchiness to the throat and skin. Keep a note how you feel when eating wheat based products, as it may be worth cutting them out. Rye bread is a tasty alternative and there are lots of alternative wheat free flours on the market now. Dell’ Ugo is gluten free pasta that I have recently discovered and is very tasty.


    A Final Note……


    I certainly take back my childhood wish of having hay fever. It causes misery for millions each year and I am certain increases in pollutants are only making things worse. It is a challenge for the sufferer because it can feel like you are being restricted to life choices you wouldn’t have made on your own, but instead of looking at it from a glass half empty point of you, try and see it as a new beginning… Getting the years of suffering and irritation finally under control.


    Trying to remain calm is a must, as stress only aggravates symptoms more. Taking regular exercise to stimulate the body and help the mind, although if exercising outdoors avoid early morning and early evening when pollen is at its highest. Keeping hydrated and maintaining a balanced, healthy diet is key.


    Personally, I have found a decent multi-vitamin useful containing, vitamin c, B6,, B1, B12, Calcium, Zinc, Copper, Magnesium, Manganese and folic acid (always follow RDA), along with a good Probiotic to help the digestive system (avoiding Lactobacillus Casei and Lactobacillus Bulgaricus, as they produce histamine).


    I hope this is useful. I have certainly found it quite cathartic putting my months of mind-boggling research into words. I am no dietician or medical expert, so I would strongly advise seeking advice before making dietary changes and keeping a food diary, so you can see what foods provoke irritation or not.


    Good luck on your pollen warpath mission! X










  • Gone Green

    Posted on May 17, 2016 by Grandala.



    Paying homage to our new leather bag arrivals in vibrant citrus green, I wanted to discuss the colour green in more detail…

    Check out our new leather bags arrivals


    Did you know green is second only to blue, as the most common favourite colour? Most people associate the colour green with money, revitalisation and rebirth and as, it is the most common colour in the natural world, it has a profound sense of grounding and calmness.


    In the presence of the colour green, the pituitary gland is stimulated. Muscles are more relaxed, leaving us feeling less stressed and instead feeling invigorated. Its also been shown to improve reading ability and creativity. I think that is an excuse to add some green to our Monday morning work attire and channel some positive energy into the week ahead. Check out our Mini Marmara Leather Satchel Bag in Citrus Green, to give your work wear accessories a lift.

    Mini Marmara Leather Satchel Bag Citrus Green Mini Marmara Leather Satchel Bag Citrus Green


    Tuning in to our inner yogi, green is also the colour of the Heart Chakra, also known as Anahata. This chakra is located at the centre of the chest area and is linked to the heart, lungs, circulatory system, cardiac plexus, and the complete chest area. The Heart Chakra bridges the gap between the physical and spiritual worlds. Opening the Heart Chakra allows a person to love more, empathize, and feel compassion. So, that’s what all the Chakra opening poses are for…

    On the subject of green, how could we not mention the juice of the moment, the Green Juice! With a new juice bar popping up at the mere blink of an eye, selling what we would traditionally boil, mash or roast, and some at quite a hefty price, let’s spend a paragraph discussing some benefits of these liquidised raw bits of nature!


    1. Energy

    Green juices are made with fruits and vegetables filled with antioxidants, phytochemicals, minerals and vitamins -- sometimes as much as a day's worth of vegetables in one serving. 5 a day sorted in one go – sounds good to me! When vegetables are juiced, the natural sugars in the vegetable are separated from the pulp, which is where the fibre is located. You may feel a "pump" of energy once those natural sugars get into your bloodstream and your glucose levels are raised. Rather than reach for the cookie jar at 3pm then, we should all get juicing!


    1. Immunity

    Green juices usually start with fresh vegetables such as spinach, kale, broccoli or others as your base. In a study published in the journal "Cell" in 2011, researchers at the Babraham Institute in Cambridge reported that cruciferous vegetables such as bok choy and broccoli contain a compound that boosts immunity and provides an extra layer of protection to cells in the body.


    1. Support Your Brain Health


    According to research people who drank juices (fruit and vegetable) more than three times per week, compared to less than once a week, were 76 per cent less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease.


    I think they are certainly 3 positive reasons to up our juiced green intake and so here’s a quick recipe I try to incorporate into my weekly diet: -




    Handful of either Curly Kale or Spinach

    1 apple

    1 banana

    2 slices of lemon (with rind)

    1 stick of celery

    2 thumb size slices of ginger

    ½ cup of water


    Simple and very refreshing!


    A Green Juice I prepared earlier A Green Juice I prepared earlier


    In conclusion, the colour green brings a sense of calmness, offers uplifting and revitalising thoughts and feelings, which I think we all would agree we need a little more of in our lives. Whilst I’m not suggesting turning all out Green Goddess, zinging up our summer wardrobe with a few staple green accessories, such as our stylish Laurel Leather Shoulder Bag in citrus green, or our Aquila lime silk scarf, could do wonders for both your wardrobe and your soul!


    Laurel Leather Shoulder Bag Citrus Green Laurel Leather Shoulder Bag Citrus Green


    Aquila Lime Green Silk Scarf Aquila Lime Green Silk Scarf



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