Springtime brings an explosion of growth and renewal, and of course pollen. We all see the green stuff on our cars and feel it in our eyes, noses and throats. But is there anything we can do besides carrying tissues and consume allergy medications?
Eat better. Yes, food can actually help ease the symptoms of the effects of histamines in our bodies. Here are some suggestions for you to consider:
An apple a day..... and eat the skin for maximum nutritional value. They are loaded with quercetin, a powerful antioxidant that also has anti-inflammatory and anti-allergy properties. Berries, red wine and onions also contain this ingredient. But be careful - champagne and beer will actually trigger the release of anti-histamines, so stick to the cabernet!
Have a cup of tea - Green tea specifically for the punch of catechins, a great antioxidant, but also suppresses the release of histamines in the body. Try echinacea, nettle, elderflower and goldenrod teas combined with peppermint leaves for respiratory relief. Many are available at natural food stores ready to use. Add local honey for sweetness. Local honey is made from local flowers and is thought to help fight allergies as well.
Fatty acids/Omega-3 found in walnuts, flax seeds, salmon and other cold water fish, can actually help reduce inflammation caused by natural seasonal irritants. Try chia seeds sprinkled over anything you eat for maximum omega-3 punch.
Vitamin C - the proverbial cold fighter! A great immune booster, it has also been found to help reduce the amount of histamine released in the body by stabilizing mast cell membranes. Citrus fruits, sweet potatoes, broccoli and dark leafy greens are great sources of vitamin C. Pineapple adds bromelain, which stimulates anti-inflammatory reactions in the body and also helps with the absorption of quercetin (see #1)
Ginger has a wealth of nutritional applications, among them a digestive aid, an anti-inflammatory and even has anti-tumor properties. It is also a natural decongestant - meaning mom was right on telling you to drink your ginger ale! Add ginger to stir fry, sauteed veggies, teas, or eat a piece of candied ginger as a treat.
Vitamin E - found in green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, etc.), beans, apples, carrots, celery, wheat germ and nuts. Researchers suspect that vitamin E stops your immune system from overreacting to pollens or other allergens. Sunflower Seeds are a great source too and add selenium to the mix, which helps your body absorb vitaminC (see #4) Toss some in salads, or eat by the handful as a snack. Try sunflower butter in place of peanut butter on your next sandwich!
All that being said, there are some foods to avoid during allergy season. Avoid foods such as high fat processed meats, high-fat cheeses, any pickled vegetables, hard alcohol, candy and chocolate. Some vegetables such as tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and potatoes (referred to as nightshade vegetables) may cause inflammation, so best to avoid these if you suffer seasonal allergies.
Wishing you a happy, allergy free springtime with the help of a great diet. Bon Appetit!