Natural Alternatives to Hay Fever - Diet
Don't underestimate the power of food!
The chemicals in food have the power to make your symptoms worse or much, much better.
Foods that can make symptoms worse
Sugar: Refined sugars can trigger adrenalin to be pumped into your bloodstream, which forces your body to produce more histamine which in turn can worsen your hayfever symptoms even further.
Alcohol: Unfortunately alcohol is the not the relaxant that most people imagine, it actually a stressor, triggering the body's stress response which can worsen symptoms.
Alcohol is also a major gut disruptor and a struggling gut has a knock on bad effect on the immune system raising your allergic potential.
Caffeine: Caffeine is also a stressor, putting an extra burden on your adrenals that are already working overtime to produce enough cortisol to counter the inflammatory effects of histamine. When your adrenals become fatigued, the symptoms of hayfever can become much worse, making you even more miserable.
Wheat: If you are allergic to grass pollen then wheat can stimulate an allergic reaction in you and you'd be better to switch to different grains.
Dairy products: Dairy products are notorious for stimulating the production of mucus making symptoms such as streaming nose or blocked ears much worse.
Chocolate: Or more specifically cocoa or cacao. Although cacao doesn't actually contain histamine it does contain other chemicals that trigger histamine release in your body to further aggravate your hayfever symptoms.
Usually I wholeheartedly recommend dark chocolate, and the darker the better but if you suffer from hay fever then ignore that, it may not be for you while you're suffering.
Fermented foods, aged foods and leftovers: The main source of histamine in foods isn't actually in the foods themselves but rather from the bacteria on the food producing histamine just as part of their normal functions. So aged or preserved foods such as some mature cheeses, sauerkraut, kefir, canned fish or even just leftover foods, can sometimes be an unhelpful source of histamine.
Intolerances: Avoid foods you know you are allergic or intolerant to.
Foods that can reduce symptoms
Oily fish: rich in omega 3 oils, eat three times a week. Wild salmon, mackerel, sardines, pilchards and fresh, not tinned, tuna are good examples. Omega 3 oils are very anti-inflammatory.
Herb & spices: Include anti-inflammatory herbs & spices daily such as ginger, rosemary, parsley, coriander, turmeric and garlic.
Curcumin, the natural anti-inflammatory compound found in turmeric has been found in studies to significantly reduce sneezing and nasal congestion.
Ginger is very anti-inflammatory and can support healthy airways.
Herbal teas: Drink herbal teas freely such as chamomile or ginger tea that are thought to relieve symptoms and peppermint tea and nettle are believed to relieve nasal and sinus congestion. Green tea also supports the immune system and acts as a natural antihistamine.
Water: Drink 2 litres of pure, filtered water a day.
Seeds: 1 tblsp flaxseed or mixed seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, flaxseed) daily.
Sweeteners: Replace refined sugar in drinks and baking with stevia or xylitol.
Fruit and vegetables: Eat 9-10 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables daily by having 3 servings of fruit, a large mixed salad and at least 3 portions of vegetables every day.
Making smoothies, soups, varieties of salads and veggie packed stews, curries, casseroles etc makes this amount much more manageable to achieve.
Choose local, organic produce where possible to avoid the pesticides etc and to have the highest antioxidant levels possible.
Specific plant nutrients that reduce symptoms
Quercetin is a bioflavanoid that is the most effective antihistamine of all the flavanoids at reducing the amount of histamine being released during hay fever and cutting inflammation.
Quercetin foods: All red, green and purple-pigmented plants such as tomatoes, peppers, blueberries, dark cherries, red apples, red onions, cruciferous vegetables such as brocolli and cauliflower, leafy greens and even green tea.
Vitamin C: Is a natural antihistimine and very anti-inflammatory. As a water-based vitamin the body cannot store it and so it must be eaten daily and in fact eaten throughout the day as it doesn't stay in the body longer than 6 hours. Vitamin C works best when teamed with bioflavanoids which is fine because both are present in vitamin C foods.
Vitamin C foods: fresh fruit such as apples, kiwi fruit, raspberries, blueberries and citrus fruit, as well as peppers, tomatoes and green, leafy vegetables.
In fact the hot spice in chili peppers also helps to open up clogged passageways.
Vitamin A: Helps keep mucous membranes healthy.
Beta-carotene foods (from which your body makes vitamin A): Orange, yellow & green foods such as carrots, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, mangoes, plums apricots, cantaloupes, kale, spinach, coriander) collard greens, fresh thyme, turnip greens, watercress.
These foods also provide lycopene, and lutein, two more powerful antioxidants.
Bromelain: Is a collection of anti-inflammatory and anti-swelling protein-digesting enzymes that are only found in the stem of pineapples so never throw the stem away but enjoy it along with the flesh. What is hay fever?