• Cathy Holligan

Top 5 Tips to Fight Seasonal Allergies

Seasonal allergies can be a real bear. There are many different ways to treat hay fever but since food is my favorite medicine, I always start here. When eaten ahead of or during the pollen seasons, there are several allergy fighting foods that may alleviate or even eradicate your symptoms. With a new pollen season just around the corner, I've rounded up my top 5 tips to beat the effects of seasonal allergies.

1. Eat raw organic vegetables! It is always recommended to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables of every color. However, maximizing your intake could be of particular help if you suffer from hay fever. Vegetables such as carrots, yams, cabbage, beets and swiss chard will be especially helpful to combat those annoying allergy symptoms as they contain quercetin, which is a natural compound known to fight hay fever and inflammation.

2. Opt for some local honey! Eating honey has been shown to improve the symptoms of allergic rhinitis. Choosing local honey may help you develop a tolerance specifically for the pollen in your area. To find local honey, check the closest farmer's market or farm stand. If you have never eaten honey before, you should always try it in small amounts and consult with your doctor to ensure there is no reason for you to avoid it. Additionally, if you are allergic to bees, eating unprocessed honey is likely not the best option for you as it may contain bee venom.

3. Add some fermented foods to your diet! Studies show that eating foods with probiotics can help to alleviate the symptoms of seasonal allergies due to their anti-inflammatory affects. Look for foods that contain "live active cultures", such as yogurt, sauerkraut and kimchi. Not all yogurt contains probiotic strains, so be sure to check the label. Including probiotic rich foods into your diet may also aid your digestion and increase energy and focus.

4. Up your vitamin C intake! Vitamin C has many health benefits, such as lowering your risk for cardiovascular disease and boosting your immune system. High amounts of vitamin C can be found in foods such as kale, kiwi, papaya, strawberries and chili peppers. This powerful water soluble vitamin has been linked to decreasing allergic rhinitis by reducing histamine in the body.

5. Try turmeric! Adding turmeric to your food will provide a kick of flavor and spice that nicely compliments beans, soups/stews, rice and vegetables. In addition to adding a flavor boost to your meal, turmeric also contains the powerful antioxidant, curcumin. Curcumin has been known to reduce blood sugar, lower cholesterol and decrease joint inflammation but it's also linked to decreased nasal congestion and sneezing caused by hay fever. Additionally, curcumin can regulate the immune response in people who suffer from seasonal allergies.

These tips are not to be used in place of any medications that you are currently taking but rather are suggestions to try if you suffer from hay fever. Always consult your physician prior to starting a new regimen or eating a new food.

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