Spring has sprung and seasonal allergies are upon us. The sniffling, sneezing and swelling that comes with spring blooms can make life miserable. Contrary to popular belief, the best medicine for allergies may not actually be medicine. There are several foods that may help reduce the symptoms of seasonal allergies. In this blog we are going to take a look at why we get allergies, and foods to keep us going full steam during allergy season.
Why do we get seasonal allergies?
Nearly one third of the population is estimated to experience seasonal allergies. An allergy is an immune system response that happens when the body mistakes a certain foreign substance (ex. pollen) as being harmful. This causes the immune system to release antibodies to protect the body, which then releases histamines causing an allergic reaction. For seasonal allergies, this may manifest as sniffling, sneezing, runny nose, headache, swollen red eyes, and swelling. The truth is, no one really knows why some people develop seasonal allergies and others do not. There are some hypotheses that early exposure may come into play, as well as, diet composition, and hygiene.
A few additions to your daily diet may be your easiest way to relieve seasonal allergy symptoms. Try these foods to ease your way into spring.
- Capers and other quercetin rich foods. Quercetin is a polyphenol found in foods such as broccoli, onions, capers, berries, and tea. Quercetin acts like an antioxidant, searching out free radicals, reducing histamines, decreasing inflammation, and suppressing the pathways that cause allergic reactions. Excellent sources of quercetin include: capers (14.8 mg in 1 tablespoon), onions (24.4 mg in 3.5 ounces cooked), blueberries (12.5mg in 3.5 ounces), and red leaf lettuce (12 mg in 1 cup).
- Kimchi and other probiotic foods such as some yogurts, kombucha, and sauerkraut have been shown to help relieve symptoms of seasonal allergies. Multiple research studies have found that people who regularly consume probiotics have a reduction in antibodies that trigger allergic reactions.
- Pumpkin seeds and other magnesium-rich foods. Magnesium is needed for over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body. Evidence shows magnesium can help smooth airway passages to help you breathe easier during allergy season.Studies have also shown that a deficiency in magnesium increases histamines in the body, promoting an allergic reaction. Foods high in magnesium include: pumpkin seeds (168 mg per serving), almonds (80 mg per serving), spinach (78 mg per ½ cup), and black beans (60 mg per ½ cup).
- Chia seeds and other foods high in omega-3s such as pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, algae, avocado, and walnuts can help reduce the inflammation associated with allergies. A research study in the journal of Respiratory Medicine found that omega-3 may help reduce bronchial inflammation due to allergies in asthma sufferers. Chia Bar anyone?
- Turmeric. Turmeric has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. According to researchers, this beloved anti-inflammatory has been shown to block the release of histamines that cause allergy symptoms. Try turmeric tea, turmeric kale chips, add turmeric to your soup or smoothie, or try our Health Warrior Honey Cracked Pepper with Turmeric Pumpkin Seed Bar.
- Local honey. The idea behind ingesting local honey to limit allergies is similar to getting allergy shots. Exposing yourself to local pollen continuously may help reduce the likelihood you’ll react when exposed to the potential allergen airborne. According to researchers, the verdict is still out whether this works. Due to the varied amounts of pollen that may be in each jar of honey, it’s hard to know how much exposure you are getting to prevent the potential reaction. There is no hurt in trying honey, however. Honey is rich in antioxidants that may have other promising health benefits.
Breathe easier this allergy season, eat a varied diet high in antioxidants, rich in omega-3, fermented foods, and low in inflammatory foods like fatty meats, sugar, and refined flours. No food is a proven cure, but including these foods in your daily diet may help your seasonal allergies.