Fight springtime allergies with allergy-fighting foods

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Spring is a wonderful time of year with the reawakening of new growth in dormant plants.  But for many people it’s also a reawakening and a reminder it’s allergy season triggered by all the grass, pollen and mold.  With everything in full bloom this can result in itchy, watery eyes, a runny nose, sneezing, and coughing that can begin as early as February and can last until early summer.

Weather also plays a role in how bad the allergy season may be.   If it was a mild winter, plants pollinate early meaning a longer allergy season.   If it’s a rainy spring, this leads to rapid growth of plants which means more mold. 

Allergy-fighting foods

The first line of defense is to seek help from an allergist or your family physician to get relief.  The more commonly prescribed symptom relievers are antihistamines, decongestants, corticosteroids, bronchodilators and other medications. 

Another line of defense can be your food choices.  Making a few changes to your diet might just do the trick to make you feel like a normal person again.  Consider the following:

· Tea

During allergy season, your body is releasing the chemical histamine, causing the annoying symptoms.  Tea contains natural antihistamines that may help reduce the symptoms of allergies.  First thing in the morning and throughout the day, drink your tea of choice to prevent the daily grind of dealing with allergies.

· Follow the Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet emphasizes including lots of nuts, fish, olive oil, fruits, vegetables,     beans, and whole grains.  This way of eating provides various beneficial nutrients that may give relief from allergies.  The high carotenoid content may have anti-allergy compounds; resveratrol found in wine reduces signs of inflammation; quercetin also reduces inflammation along with symptom-causing antihistamines and the high omega-3 fatty acid content may play a role in reducing allergy risk.

· Probiotics like yogurt

Foods containing “friendly bacteria” like yogurt can help regulate your immune systemleading to fewer allergy symptoms.  Look for probiotics listed on food labels such as lactobacillus or bifidobacterium which are similar to what is found in your gut.  Besides yogurt, also try miso soup, sauerkraut, soft cheeses like gouda, kefir, sourdough bread, sour pickles, tempeh, and probiotic supplements.

· Apples

That apple a day not only keeps the doctor away but may also keep allergy symptoms from ruining your day.  Apples contain a compound called quercetin found abundantly in the peel that works to keep airways open.  Quercetin is a type of flavonoid preventing your body from pumping out histamine, a chemical causing the annoying allergy symptoms.  Therefore, quercetin may help reduce symptoms of allergies, including runny nose, watery eyes, hives, and swelling of the face and lips.  Other foods containing this allergy-fighting gem include citrus fruits, onions, red wine and dark berries.

· Broccoli

This green veggie never ceases to amaze with its healthy nutritional profile.  Add to this list, its ability to relieve allergy symptoms.  Broccoli contains a couple of powerful phytonutrients - sulforaphane and glucoraphanin – compounds known for their anti-inflammatory powers.  Studies have shown these compounds to help reduce the reaction people with allergies have to harmful air particles.

Use allergy-fighting foods to your advantage this season.   They may not completely eliminate an allergy but they may be able to provide some relief.  This allows you a chance to revel in the beginning of spring without the dread of annoying allergy symptoms.