With the arrival of spring, many people start to dread the onslaught of outdoor allergies. For some, it’s just a few sniffles. But some unlucky allergy sufferers have to face major bouts of allergy symptoms, including red, itchy eyes and skin, sneezing, and even trouble breathing. Allergies can have a major impact on your health and your ability to get out and enjoy the first days of long-awaited warmer weather.
Allergy pill manufacturers are running their ads in high rotation right now, and it’s true that allergy pills can be used to mask allergy symptoms. But rather than pop a pill to reduce symptoms once they appear (or, as some allergy sufferers do, take an allergy pill every single day for the first several weeks of spring), why not prepare your body to defend itself against allergies naturally using allergy-fighting foods? This strategy not only reduces the amount of medication you need to take to get through allergy season, it will actually make you feel better by preventing or reducing allergic reactions rather than simply masking the symptoms.
An added bonus? The same foods that fight allergies tend to boost the immune system to help keep you healthier in general.
Top Food Picks to Help Stop Allergies in their Tracks
Try incorporating some of these allergy-fighting ingredients into each meal to help build your body’s resistance to allergy symptoms.
- Spices: Kicking up the flavor of your cooking with spices like ginger and turmeric can help fight inflammation. That’s great news for most allergy sufferers, because sniffles and sinus pain are caused by an allergic inflammation response in the sinus cavities
- Fruit: The Vitamin C in citrus acts as an antihistamine (the main function of allergy pills) while the bromelain in pineapples helps fight inflammation. Plus, a British study showed that five apples a week can help improve lung function – giving the lungs a better chance to cope with wheeze-inducing allergy triggers.
- Fish: The general health benefits of the omega-3s found in fish are well known. What you many not have heard is that they can also help prevent the body from releasing antibodies that trigger an allergic response.
- Seeds: Chia seeds also provide loads of omega-3s! Another popular seeds – sunflower seeds – contain Vitamin E, which acts as an anti-inflammatory, and selenium, which helps the body produce antioxidants that boost the immune system and reduce inflammation.
Allergy-Trigger Foods to Avoid
Increasing intake of the above foods can help fight off allergies, but it’s also important to avoid foods that can trigger allergy symptoms.
- Alcohol: Most alcoholic beverages can trigger the release of histamines, especially beer, wine, and cider.
- Processed foods: One more reason to avoid highly processed foods – they can trigger inflammation that aggravates allergies, especially in the sinuses. Common processed-food components like saturated and trans fats, nitrites, and excess sugar can all trigger inflammation.
- Pickled foods: The fermentation process in pickling leads to the development of histamines.
The Bottom Line
Spring shouldn’t be a time of misery. By planning your diet to include allergy-fighting foods – and avoid allergy food triggers – you can prepare your body to face the outdoors and enjoy the first warm rays of the spring sun.
Christina Newberry is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in national and local magazines and newspapers. With a Bachelor’s degree in English and Anthropology from the University of Victoria and a Journalism Certificate from Langara College, Christina brings keen curiosity and the love of a good story to her work with HealthCastle.com.
Christina is a passionate traveler and urban gardener with an interest in vegetarian eating and making good, tasty food from scratch. Sharing lessons learned from her own experiences, Christina writes about lifestyle topics for HealthCastle, with a focus on eating well at home and on the road.