Although it feels like winter will never end, the good news is winter is on its way out making way for the new spring energy. We can soon celebrate blue skies and enjoy more time outdoors. Good news eh? Sadly not for many hay fever sufferers. Spring and summer can spell misery for many people who suffer with hay fever.
Hay fever is caused by an overproduction of histamine when confronted by pollen and other airborne substances. If you are a bit depleted after the winter period and you’re finding it difficult fending off colds & flu the body’s defenses are more likely to overreact to harmless substances like pollen.
If you are supporting your body’s immune system with a good diet your defenses are less likely to go haywire during the spring when the pollen count rises, so it makes sense to eat a diet that will support your immune system and protect you from unpleasant symptoms like blocked sinuses, itchy and swollen eyes, coughs, runny noses and many more unpleasant respiratory irritations.
So before you reach for the anti-histamines, perhaps look to nature for a natural, sustainable approach to balancing your histamine levels this spring. 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 built up winter 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 and a sprinkle of ground nuts and seeds to your smoothies and/or salads for a nutrition packed meal.
Quercetin is naturally occurring compound found in many fruits and vegetables: onions, garlic, leeks and green tea. Bromelein is an enzyme derived from pineapples. Current research suggests that when they are digested together 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; this spice contains curcumin which 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.
Keep yourself hydrated
Many people are dehydrated and rely on stimulating caffeine laden drinks and never actually drink proper plain, simple water. 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
As well as drinking more water and eating the colors of the rainbow, histamine production may also be reduced by avoiding foods which are higher in histamine. Shellfish, alcohol, tomato, oranges, cheese, chocolate and dairy products all contain histamine so are best avoided. Preservatives and food colorings also stimulate histamine production.
Dairy & wheat increase mucus production and are known to contribute to inflammation and are also best avoided and red meat contains arachidonic acid which could contribute to allergic and inflammatory reactions.
SO….If you suffer from hay fever, the earlier you take preventative steps the better. It may only be March, but don’t get caught out – pollen is on the way.
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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