Ah spring. Or do we mean, A-choo! The shift into spring can be difficult for those suffering with seasonal allergies. Seasonal allergies are a common occurrence with between 15 and 20 percent of the population experiencing some level of symptoms including sneezing, runny nose, itching eyes, fatigue, sinus congestion and headaches.
These symptoms occur when the body mistakes pollen for a foreign invader and launches an immune attack against it. Conventional treatment consists of using antihistamines, decongestants, nasal steroids, and allergy shots. While these methods may be successful for some, they are not always effective and are not without side effects..
In Dr. Knight’s experience, allergic responses are frequently exacerbated when the body is overloaded with triggers. Unless you want to move or live in a bubble, there is little that can be done to avoid the exposure to some of these triggers during the spring, summer, and fall. Your diet is one thing that you do have control over that can help to decrease this burden. Modifying your diet also offers ways to enhance anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine activity in our body.
Steps that you can take to naturally decrease your seasonal allergies include:
- Eat a ‘clean’ diet as much as possible: Reduce or avoid pro-inflammatory foods, especially high sugar and refined foods and food additives
- Avoid trigger foods: You might consider a 6-week dairy elimination, or a full Elimination Diet, which removes a broader array of common food allergens.
- Support a healthy intestinal barrier: A ‘leaky’ intestinal barrier is heavily implicated in immune-related disease including seasonal allergies.
- Consume anti-inflammatory foods: Include in your diet an abundance of colorful vegetables that are high in anti-inflammatory flavonoids and antioxidants. Use herbs and spices liberally, since their content of anti-inflammatory compounds is especially dense. Choose wild or grass-fed animal foods, for a more anti-inflammatory nutrient profile. Find dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids such as wild-caught salmon, flaxseed, or chia seed.
- Consume natural anti-histamines: Specific foods also contain quercetin or anthocyanins, which have anti-histamine or mast-stabilizing properties. Quercetin-containing foods include apples, broccoli, citrus, fennel and onion. Anthocyanin-containing foods include berries, cherries, grapes, red cabbage, red onion and wild rice. Anti-histamine properties are also found in parsley, thyme, turmeric, ginger, chamomile, garlic and nettle.
- Keep well hydrated: Aim to consume about half your body weight in fluid ounces, spread throughout the day. Proper hydration can reduce the histamine response.
Dr. Peter Knight is a Naturopathic Doctor at Oasis Wellness Partners. Call at (207) 883-5549 to book an appointment!