Hayfever: A Nutritionist’s Tips
Achoo! Ah-chooh!! If you suffer from hay fever these nutritionist tips are just what you need.
Back in April I posted about hayfever, and the prep-work you coud do to get ready for ‘allergy season’. Like strengthening histamine-releasing cells, supporting the immune system, managing inflammation – we covered it all. I also promised to share my nutritionist tips to help you cope later on in the year, if your symptoms are out in full force. Here’s my rundown of the supplements and foods to keep your sniffles, itches and sneezes at bay.
TIP 1. UP YOUR INTAKE OF HAYFEVER SYMPTOM-SOOTHING NUTRIENTS
A plant flavonol from the family of polyphenols, quercetin is high on the list for hayfever sufferers. With anti-inflammatory, anti-allergy and anti-oxidant actions in the body, quercetin works in many arenas.
A primary action of flavonoid polyphenols is to diminish inflammatory processes. In fact, quercetin-rich foods like green tea, blueberries, kale and broccoli are renowned for their positive health benefits. You’ll find quercetin in apples, onions, sage, parsley and red wine too.
It’s also a natural anti-histamine. Quercetin stablizes cells, reducing the release of histamine into the system. Supplements provide between 300-500mg per capsule, and are typically taken 2 to 3 times a day.
Another natural anti-histamine, vitamin C complements quercetin, and you’ll often find them together in supplements.
You probably know of this water-soluble vitamin as a potent anti-oxidant. But it achieves anti-histamine status due to its ability to destroy histamine’s molecular structure, effectively decreasing the amount of histamine in the blood. In one study, supplementing 2g of L-ascorbic acid lowered histamine levels by 40%.
Eating more fresh or frozen, and fewer processed foods, will dramatically increase your dietary vitamin C. Choose from tomatoes, brocolli, kiwi, oranges, strawberries, raspberries and peppers.
In recent years, the potential role of vitamin D in hayfever has been under investigation. While the effect of this fat-soluble vitamin on the cells of the immune system is clear, the link to hayfever is slightly more murky, and more research is needed. But, come on. If you live in the UK where the sun hardly shines, you gain automatic entry into the vitamin-D-deficiency club. Unless you supplement. Public Health England recommends everyone has 400iu daily, all year round. If your need is higher, I suggest you supplement more.
LUFFA – tincture, tablets and nasal spray
You’ll find many natural alternatives to sprays and eyedrops. Most will soothe irritated membranes, and help wash out pollen and dust, others are shown to be effective in both the eyes and nose.
For instance, studies on Luffa Nasal Spray report a ‘distinct improvement’ for 6 out of 10 hayfever sufferers, and ‘some improvement’ for 3 out of 10 sufferers. Not just for sneezing, congested or runny noses, but also for itchy eyes. Nasal sprays like these should be used several times a day.
TIP 2. FOCUS ON FOODS WHICH REDUCE INFLAMMATION
- Swap coffee and caffeinated drinks to green tea, turmeric tea, white tea and nettle tea
- Cut out cow’s and goat’s products and switch to plant mylk, yogurts and cheese
- Ditch creamy dishes for the spicy option – ginger and chilies are great decongestants
- Replace refined sugar with naturally sweeter fruit
- Have a daily portion of seed oils, avocado, berries and deep coloured root veg like pumpkin, squash, sweet potatoes and carrots
TIP 3. BEWARE OF UNEXPECTED TRIGGERS
HIGH HISTAMINE FOODS
These may trigger symptoms, so it may be worth cutting back on these foods for a couple of days at least. Culprits include strawberries and citrus fruit, chocolate, red wine and cheese, sauerkraut and fish that is smoked or from a can.
It’s possible to react to foods if you have Oral Allergy Syndrome. Allergies to certain pollens can increase the likelihood of OAS. So if you’ve been tested and know what you’re allergic too, then you can keep an eye out for strange reactions to specific foods. Here’s a list from The Healthy House Ltd:
- Alder pollen: almonds, apples, celery, cherries, hazel nuts, peaches, pears, parsley, strawberry, raspberry
- Birch pollen: almonds, apples, apricots, avocadoes, bananas, carrots, celery, cherries, chicory, coriander, fennel, fig, hazelnuts, kiwi fruit, nectarines, parsley, parsnip, peaches, pears, peppers, plums, potatoes, prunes, soy, strawberries, wheat and potentially walnuts
- Grass pollen: fig, melons, tomatoes, oranges, (and wheat, rye and oats)
- Mugwort pollen: carrots, celery, coriander, fennel, parsley, peppers, sunflower
- Ragweed pollen: artichoke, banana, cantaloupe, chamomile tea, courgette, cucumber, dandelions, echinacea, green pepper, hibiscus, honey (if pollinated from wild flowers), honeydew melon, paprika, sunflower seeds/oil, watermelon
- Possible cross reactions with any of the above: berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries etc.), citrus (oranges, lemons etc.), grapes, mango, figs, peanut, pineapple, pomegranate, watermelon.