9 Recipes To Treat Seasonal Allergies Naturally With Food
It’s that time of year again. The trees are blossoming, flowers are in bloom, and there’s pollen floating through the air—lots and lots of pollen. Achoo!
Allergic rhinitis, hay fever, seasonal allergies—whatever you want to call it. If you’re one of the 10–30% of people worldwide who suffer, put down the foil pill packet and look to your kitchen instead.
Your diet can help or hurt, depending on what you’re eating. Before we dive into the foods to eat (and avoid) with seasonal allergies, let’s talk a little more about how it all works.
In This Article
- How Seasonal Allergies Work
- What Triggers Seasonal Allergies?
- The Benefits of Beta Glucan
- Foods to Eat for Seasonal Allergies
- Recipes for Seasonal Allergies
How Do Seasonal Allergies Work?
When you are exposed to a substance you are allergic to, you produce antibodies. These are proteins that help fight off and neutralize the allergen, and trigger your body to release histamines.
Histamines are a natural part of your body’s immune system response. They are neurotransmitters communicating messages to your brain, and are what cause the typical allergy symptoms you experience, like a runny nose and itching.
Histamines basically let your body know something’s up by causing blood vessels to swell, which lets your white blood cells, the soldiers of your immune system, know just where to go to start attacking the allergen.
You may know the word “histamine” from allergy drugs, also known as antihistamines. These are great at masking symptoms of seasonal allergies, but that’s just the problem—all they do is mask. To really control allergies, aside from leaving the country to get away from all the irritating pollen, you have to get to the source.
What Triggers Seasonal Allergies?
Here are some of the most common environmental triggers for allergies:
- Pollen: You’ve seen pollen floating through the air, building up on your car, leaving trails of yellow dust wherever it goes. This is what helps plants grow and thrive. The plants can be pollinated by wind or insect, and the wind is what gets you. If you’re particularly sensitive, you can view your local pollen count or forecast here.
- Dust mites: Dust mites are microscopic, so you can’t see them. The best way to avoid them is simply to keep your house clean. Dust surfaces regularly, wash your linens, and vacuum routinely to avoid buildup.
- Mold spores: Also microscopic, mold can travel just like pollen does in the air. It can grow in damp atmospheres, so rainy spring can be the perfect time for it to thrive and make you go through a box of tissues a week. Hang towels to dry well after showering, check your pipes for any leaks around the house, and if you’re more sensitive to mold than others, you may even want to avoid keeping house plants. Their soil can potentially contain irritating mold.
- Pet dander: Cats and dogs have a tendency to shed, and even if you don’t have a pet, the fur and dead skin cells can get picked up by the wind, too. Make sure you’re grooming them regularly (brushing their hair and bathing) to get rid of potential free-floating irritants.
A quality indoor air filter is a great solution for clearing airborne allergens in your home or work environment.
A Natural Substance That Might Help: Beta Glucan
Beta glucan is a form of dietary fiber found in barley, oats, yeasts, and algae, and some mushrooms, such as maitake and reishi. It's one of the most studied and exciting compounds found in nature!
In particular, this study performed in Ohio highlighted the relieved symptoms of "ragweed allergy sufferers." The participants using beta glucan demonstrated an increase in energy, emotional well-being, and physical health. They also reported a decrease in sleep problems, nasal symptoms, eye symptoms, and non-nasal symptoms. Overall, 56% of participants described improved quality of life compared to the placebo participants.
My family and I have personally experienced the benefits of this remarkable compound. We turned to beta glucan when we found out that my son was allergic to cats. His allergy was so bad that we had to return the kitten we had just brought home. A few weeks later, after taking beta glucan, we were able to reunite with the kitty, and Tennyson has been free of allergies ever since!
What Foods to Eat for Seasonal Allergies?
Now that you know what might be triggering your sneezing, wheezing, and sniffling, you’ll want to stock up on foods that help both calm the inflammation and strengthen your immune system so you can avoid being so susceptible to the allergies in the future.
- Citrus fruits, kiwi, bell peppers, broccoli, and brussels sprouts. These fruits and vegetables contain high amounts of immune-boosting Vitamin C, and consuming them can help lower levels of histamine in the body. Our bodies can’t make or store Vitamin C, so we have to get it through our diet through fresh produce options like these.
- Nuts and seeds (walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, etc). Foods that contain omega-3 essential fatty acids have anti-inflammatory effects that can help reduce the frequency of hay fever. They also help balance out the overconsumption of omega-6 fatty acids in the Standard American Diet, helping to calm inflammation further.
- Apples, peppers, onions, berries, parsley, dill, cilantro, green and black tea. What do all of these foods have in common? They contain a potent antioxidant known as quercetin, which acts as a natural antihistamine. You can also get quercetin in capsule form, but I suggest getting it in your diet as a first line of defense so there’s already antihistamine activity in your body when allergy season comes around. Be proactive, rather than reactive, with this food group.
- Pineapple. This tropical fruit contains bromelain, which is an enzyme known for its anti-inflammatory properties, particularly in the nose and sinuses. Bromelain is a common remedy for hay fever, but again, I prefer the food source over a pill. You might as well enjoy some delicious fruit along with its healing benefits!
- Turmeric. Along with its anti-inflammatory qualities, turmeric, or the active compound in it known as curcumin, helps inhibit the release of histamine in the body. It’s best absorbed with some black pepper, so feel free to spice up the veggies listed above and roast them for an immune-boosting dinner.
- Raw, local honey. Anecdotal evidence, including my own experience, suggests that eating raw and local honey regularly throughout the year can provide microdoses of local pollen for your immune system to get used to. While not yet proven through independent research, the idea is that when the pollen count is high, you can be better adapted to its presence.
Recipes for Seasonal Allergies
You’ve got your list of the best foods to eat during allergy season, now you’ll need to do something with it! Since green smoothies are an easy way to get a lot of histamine-fighting fruits and vegetables into your diet quickly, I’m including several smoothie recipes for seasonal allergies, but here are a few more recipes (including a dessert!) to get you started on your rhinitis-free season:
Green Smoothie Recipes for Seasonal Allergies:
- Anti-Inflammatory Smoothie
- Brussels Smoothie
- Tart Berry Blast
- Zesty Green Smoothie
- Watermelon Lime Smoothie
May your eyes be free of redness and your nasal passages clear!
Robyn Openshaw, MSW, is the bestselling author of The Green Smoothies Diet, 12 Steps to Whole Foods, and 2017’s #1 Amazon Bestseller and USA Today Bestseller, Vibe. Learn more about how to make the journey painless, from the nutrient-scarce Standard American Diet, to a whole-foods diet, in her free video masterclass 12 Steps to Whole Foods.
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