You know the feeling, the flowers are in bloom and beautiful, then the itchy nose, watery eyes, sneezing, congestion, and headaches start. I wanted to share few tips to help weather allergy season with as few symptoms as possible.
Seasonal allergies, also known as allergic rhinitis or hay fever, affect millions of us each year. Seasonal allergies (especially in the spring and fall) occur when our immune system overreacts to some kind of outdoor allergen like pollen. Our bodies’ immune systems detect something foreign and mount a response.
Many of us think the only thing we can do is rely on antihistamines and over-the-counter allergy medications, which can make us feel spacey or so tired we can’t keep our eyes open, to get us through, but there are also steps we can take to decrease our exposure to allergens and to support our immune system. Here are my favorite medication-free tips to help better manage seasonal allergies:
Ideally, we would limit our exposure to the outside, but for most of us, that is not possible. Keeping my windows closed at night would be great for my allergies, but would keep my house too warm for a good night’s sleep and I am not willing to make that trade-off. Do what works for you and see how you feel.
- Invest in a good air purifier with heap filters to help keep your home allergy-free.
- Delegate gardening and other outside chores to others especially on windy days. If you need to do them, wear a dust mask when outside, and change and launder your clothes when you come inside.
- Stay hydrated. If you are not drinking one-half your body weight in ounces each day of water, herbal tea, or broth, now is the time to do so. If you are not a big fan of water, make your own spa water by adding fruit slices and fresh herbs.
- Use a neti pot or nasal irrigation system to flush allergens out your nasal cavities. A hot shower is a great place to do this. If you live somewhere with a plentiful water supply, consider doing this twice a day.
Since seasonal allergies occur when our immune system overreacts, allergy season is the time to dial back on inflammatory foods and focus on eating foods that reduce inflammation. It is also a time to avoid any foods that you have sensitivities to or are allergic to.
- Focus on eating a diet rich in plant foods (vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices, nuts and seeds, beans and legumes, whole grains, teas, and coffee), healthy fats (olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, nuts and seeds, fatty wild-caught fish), and organic, wild-caught, or pasture-raised animals proteins.
- Red onions, leafy greens, broccoli, green and black tea, citrus fruits, berries, and apples are rich in the flavonoid quercetin. Quercetin contains anti-allergic and anti-histamine properties.
- Foods rich in vitamin C boost the immune system and can act as a natural antihistamine. Peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, citrus fruits, strawberries, tomatoes, thyme, leafy greens are good sources of vitamin C.
- If you tolerate them, hot and spicy foods can help ease sinus congestion. Kimchi, horseradish, and a seasoning mix of equal parts pureed ginger and garlic are my favorites.
- Bone broth can also help ease congestion as well as reduce inflammation. You can drink it on its own or use it as a base for soup.
- Add some probiotic-rich foods into your diet to support your immune system. I suggest pickles, chutney, sauerkraut, kimchi, coconut knifer, and kombucha and would suggest avoiding those probiotic-rich foods made with dairy (yogurt, raw cheese, kefir …) which can increase mucus during this period.
- Apple cider vinegar can help break up mucus and supports the immune system. You can use it in your salad dressing or add some to a glass of water right before a meal. Apple cider vinegar can help support digestion in some people, and in others, it can cause heartburn or GERD. Know your body and if apple cider vinegar is a good choice for you.
- Take a good look at your regular diet and consider decreasing the amount you consume or removing the following foods if you are sensitive to season allergies: alcohol, caffeine, dairy, gluten, added sugar, processed foods, and those with preservatives. These foods can be quite inflammatory for many of us.
What might an anti-allergy supporting day look like in terms of your plate? Consider meals like this:
Chia pudding made with coconut or almond milk and topped with sliced strawberries and walnuts.
Roasted salmon served on a salad made with mixed baby greens, sliced red peppers, green beans, red onion, cucumber, quinoa, and fresh thyme. Dress with a vinaigrette made with olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and a pinch of garlic and ginger puree.
Vegetable platter with a mix of fresh dill pickles, baby carrots, radishes, and hummus or guacamole.
Curry made with bone broth, turmeric, ginger, and served with brown rice and orange slices. Check out my weeknight curry recipe.
You can use these lifestyle and diet habits to better support your immune system. There are lots of antihistamines and supplements that can also help decrease allergy symptoms if you need additional support. Some of them have side effects so double-check any medication interactions.
If you are looking to go a little deeper into you diet and see how you can better support your immune system and reduce allergy and other symptoms, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org