Good weather can really put a spring in your step. Lighter mornings, longer days, and warmer temperatures are good for your body and soul. Unfortunately, while many of us long for the spring and summer, some people dread that time of year.
Seasonal allergies are usually triggered by pollen. Pollen is a very fine powder produced by trees, flowers, grasses, and weeds to fertilize other plants of the same species. It can cause a host of allergic symptoms including itchy, red, runny eyes, sneezing, congestion, a runny nose, and rashes. Often called hay fever, seasonal allergies can make you feel very unwell, affecting your ability to concentrate and even sleep.
Some people take medications called antihistamines to relieve seasonal allergies, and there are shots you can get from your doctor that may help too. However, if you prefer a gentler, more holistic approach to treating allergies, it’s good to know that several foods can help.
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is reported to boost the immune system, which can help your body fight off seasonal allergies. In addition, apple cider vinegar can help break up mucus to clear your otherwise congested airways. It also supports lymphatic drainage. Try mixing one to two tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with a glass of water and lemon juice three times a day to relieve allergy symptoms. Alternatively, just chug down a tablespoon 2-4 times per day to keep your allergy symptoms at bay.
Polyunsaturated fat acids, also known as PUFAs, have a natural anti-inflammatory action. When your eyes and airways are reddened and inflamed, taking PUFAs may help calm your symptoms. Increase your intake of polyunsaturated fats by eating oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna, or flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts. You can also use a PUFA supplement. Take 500-1000mg per day divided into 2-3 equal doses.
While there hasn’t been a lot of research into the effect of honey on allergies, anecdotal evidence suggests it can be beneficial, and it makes a certain amount of sense too. Raw honey contains pollen and consuming pollen before allergy season may help immunize you against the effect of airborne pollen when spring arrives. This is the same concept as medical vaccinations.
Understand this; you need to consume raw homey that has not been processed, and you’ll need to buy it from local beekeepers. Processed honey is no better than sugar syrup, as most of its nutritional properties have been removed. Also, never give honey to a baby less than one-year-old because of the risk of botulism.
Onions contain a substance called quercetin. Quercetin is a natural antihistamine that may reduce the severity of allergic reactions. Best consumed raw, try adding onions to your salad or putting them in a sandwich.
Not an onion fan? Or maybe eating raw onions gives you the dreaded onion breath? Peppers, berries, and parsley all have quercetin all too.
Kefir is a popular drink in the Middle East. It’s basically a fermented yogurt drink that contains good bacteria called probiotics. Probiotics live in your digestive system and have an essential part to play in the function of your immune system. As allergies are basically over-zealous immune reactions, it makes sense that getting your immune system into great shape may help you deal better with pollen and other allergies.
You can also get probiotics from other fermented foods, including natural yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi. Alternatively, there are probiotic supplements available that contain billions of healthy bacteria. After a few weeks, you should have repopulated your supply of good bacteria and should not need to continue using either probiotic foods or supplements, other than for the occasional top-up.
A cup of tea is an excellent way to relieve the symptoms of your allergies. The steam from a warm cup of tea will help relax and open your airways, allowing you to breathe more easily. In addition, tea contains natural antihistamines that reduce swelling and inflammation. Choose naturally decaffeinated green and black tea so that you can have several cups per day without interfering with your sleep.
Food to avoid that may make allergies worse
As some foods are good for alleviating allergies, it makes sense that other foods can make allergies worse. Avoid the following if seasonal allergies are getting you down.
Fast food – many processed and fast foods contain chemicals that can make allergic reactions worse. Skip the fast food and eat more wholesome, natural foods instead. Artificial sweeteners are also best avoided.
Salt – eating too much salt can make the symptoms of asthma worse. Allergies are not dissimilar to asthma, so it makes a certain amount of sense that eating less salt could reduce the severity of your allergy symptoms. Cut out salt-laden processed food, stop adding salt to cooking, and otherwise keep your salt intake to a minimum.
Raw foods – the pesticides and herbicides on raw vegetables and fruits may make some allergies worse. During allergy season, switch your raw veggies and fruits for their cooked counterparts. Also, remember to wash your fruit and vegetables to remove any potential allergens.
Hot spices – hot and spicy Mexican, Thai, and Indian food can make your nose run, and your eyes stream at the best of times. But if you have seasonal allergies, they can make things considerably worse. Even if spices don’t usually bother you, it may be worth giving them a miss during allergy season.
Allergies can all-but ruin your spring and summer. Don’t let pollen get you down; eat these six allergy-beating foods to reduce the severity of symptoms and avoid the four listed foods to avoid making existing symptoms worse. Make this spring and summer sniffle-free!