Foods that help with hay fever

Kale in foods that help with hay fever

A friend asked me the other day if I knew of any foods that help with hay fever. I thought I’d outline some of them here, but starting with what to avoid, which can be just as important!

First, what to avoid

None of these will surprise you: try to avoid dairy. Why? Because it creates mucus buildup in the body. And not to go into too much detail, but with hay fever the last thing you want is extra mucus, right?

Try to avoid caffeine, carbonated drinks, red meats and refined carbs such as rice. Why? Because all of these can dehydrate the body. You need extra fluids, if anything, to help flush out toxins and keep everything flowing.

Also try to not eat saturated fats, wheat, processed foods and sugar. None of these are particularly good for you anyway. More importantly, if you are struggling with hay fever – and the same goes for any kind of allergy – your immune system is working overtime already. It doesn’t need the extra burden of coping with heavy foods that aren’t easily digested. Plus many of these foods – such as wheat – are allergens, so if you’re sensitive to pollen, chances are you may have sensitivities so some of these other foods too.

Some people also say to avoid tomatoes, oranges and red wine, as they contain a histamine.

What’s a histamine?

A histamine is a substance that’s already in our cells and is what makes us sneeze or have a runny nose. Basically histamines are released in the body when our immune system come across something that it has decided is dangerous to us – whether it is an actual threat, like a virus, or an imagined one, such as pollen or dust. So drugs that contain antihistamines are treating the symptoms (the runny nose for example), not the cause (our immune system saying ‘stop!)

Foods that help with hay fever

Basically, any foods that are high in bioflavonoids and vitamin C, that have a high water content, and that are known for cleansing the body.

What are bioflavonoids?

Bioflavonoids are compounds that give plants their color, as well as many antioxidant properties. The best foods that help with hay fever contain a substance called ‘quercetin’ (oh boy now I’m getting really scientific!). Quercetin is important because it helps inhibit the release of histamines (remember, the stuff that makes us sneeze and/or have a runny nose).

So which foods do you eat? Well, quercetin is found in several very common foods, like capers. If you do eat capers, just rinse them first to take out some of the sodium.

But you can also get quercetin from onions, with red onions being at the top of the list. Use them as soon as you can after purchase to get the most benefit, just as you would with any fresh fruit or vegetable.

Don’t like capers or onions? Berries are also good, as well as apples and grapes.

And to get your vitamin C, in addition to the berries you can chow down on some dark leafy veggies and/or pineapple. Pineapple is very good because it contains bromelain which can help improve circulation as well as help cleanse the body. Lemons of course contain vitamin C, as do bell peppers, guava, kale, kiwi, broccoli and a whole host of other foods.

What about cleansing foods?

Cleansing foods are important to make sure you’re not only putting the good stuff in, but getting the bad stuff out. Good cleansing foods are garlic, onions and nettles. In fact you can put nettles in your blender to use in a smoothie – the blades will break up the stingers. Or just juice a few leaves with your regular juice if you make juice.

Hydrating foods are important too, such as coconut water (the best) and any other food high in water content. Green leafy veg fall into this category too, as does cucumber and watermelon. Get organic if you can, as any food high in water content will also have a lot of pesticides if it isn’t organic.

Omega 3s can help too

Good sources of Omega 3s are flax seeds, walnuts, chia seeds, seaweeds, berries, mangos and honeydew melons. Vegetables in the cabbage family have Omega 3s too (kale, watercress, bok choy, cauliflower, broccoli, turnip greens and a host of other foods).

A more radical approach

Some people take the homeopathic route and eat a very small amount of bee pollen or local honey. However I would suggest to check with your local health professional if you want to try this, and to take a very small amount. It does work for some people, although not for everyone. Ingesting the ‘local pollen’ can help your body adjust – but again, check with a professional first. If you have ever had a negative reaction to honey though, this strategy is definitely not for you!

If you can’t eat bee pollen, try to find another source of B vitamins – particularly B5 which supports the adrenals and helps deal with allergic responses in the body. You can find meat-free sources of vitamin B5 in kale, broccoli (yep, those two have everything!), avocado and sunflower seeds.

Further reading

If you want to read more about how allergies develop, there’s a very comprehensive article that I found here which has even more ideas for you.

If you do suffer from hay fever, well I hope this helps. And if not, please pass on the info to a friend!

If you do try any of these tips, let me know how you got on in the comments!

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