Many of us seem to be feeling the effects of hay fever this year, even if we don’t ordinarily suffer. In the summer months we hope to be enjoying blue skies and more time outdoors. But it can be an absolutely miserable time if you’re suffering from an allergy.
An overproduction of histamine, when confronted by pollen and other airborne substances, is what ultimately causes hay fever. If you are a bit depleted and you’re finding it difficult fending off colds & flu, the body’s defenses are more likely to overreact to harmless substances like pollen.
Support your immune system with a good diet and you’re less likely to be affected when the pollen count rises. Your diet can save you from symptoms such as blocked sinuses, itchy and swollen eyes, coughs, runny noses and many more unpleasant respiratory irritations.
Before you reach for the anti-histamines to tackle your hay fever, perhaps look to nature for a sustainable approach to balancing your histamine levels. There are a number of foods, nutrients and herbs that may be very beneficial in alleviating hay-fever symptoms and supporting the immune system in general, which has to be a good thing. Luckily for sufferers, nature has a few tricks up her sleeve which don’t have any side-effects.
Bring some color to your mealtimes
Eating a diet rich in natural vitamins & minerals like calcium, magnesium and anti-oxidant immune boosting foods like broccoli, kale, spinach and other leafy greens will strengthen the system, suppress histamine responses and contribute to detoxing the body of nasty build of toxins. Kiwi fruits, citrus, pomegranate, mango and peppers all contain high levels of vitamin C. Vitamin C is essential in helping ward off infections and reduce inflammation.
Include lots of good fats like avocado, coconut, flax, Brazil nuts, walnuts, sunflower & chia seeds to your diet. These fats are anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial so essential for health. Consider adding avocado, a sprinkle of ground nuts/seeds to your smoothies/salads for a nutrition packed meal.
Current research suggests that if you consume quercetin; a naturally occurring compound found in many fruits and vegetables such as: onions, garlic, leeks and green tea- and bromelein; an enzyme derived from pineapples, they may have a synergistic relationship with each other and could affect the suppression of histamine production as they appear to target the respiratory system.
Adding a wide variety of color to your meals using natural fruits and vegetables will enhance nutrition for sure.
Add a little spice to your life
Turmeric is a commonly used spice in Middle Eastern and Asian cuisine that contains curcumin. It is a phytochemical with powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin has been found to have anti-allergy properties which may inhibit the release of histamine and those hay fever symptoms.
Keep yourself hydrated
It also follows that if you rely on caffeinated and sugary drinks, this can exacerbate symptoms. Dry eyes, noses and throats are perfect for inflammation to occur. Removing alcohol and caffeine from your diet and drinking plenty of water each day will bring stress relief to those sensitive places. Which in turn may stop allergens getting into your system.
Foods to avoid
In addition to drinking more water and eating more variety, you can reduce histamine production by avoiding certain foods. Shellfish, alcohol, tomato, oranges, cheese, chocolate and dairy products all contain histamine so are best avoided. Preservatives and food colourings also stimulate histamine production.
Dairy & wheat increase mucus production and are known to contribute to inflammation and as such, also best to be avoided. Red meat contains arachidonic acid which too could contribute to allergic and inflammatory reactions.
SO….If you suffer from hay fever, the earlier you take preventative steps the better.
Daily Mail: How a better diet could beat the suffering of hay fever.
Met Office: Pollen Calendar
NHS: Hay fever facts
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