Did you know that the foods you eat can affect your seasonal allergies? If you’ve ever wondered why your allergy medication didn’t completely relieve your symptoms, it could be because the foods you eat are making them worse. While some foods worsen allergies, others can actually help reduce sneezing, congestion, itchy eyes and other seasonal allergy symptoms.
Histamine is the Culprit
Seasonal allergies occur due to a reaction triggered by mold spores or grass, tree or weed pollen. When these substances are released into the air, your immune system sees them as a threat and reacts by releasing a mixture of chemicals, including histamine, into your bloodstream.
Histamine helps white blood cells, your body’s natural defenders, permeate your small blood vessels to attack the allergens. When white blood cells move into your blood vessels, fluids move out and cause nasal congestion, watery eyes, a runny nose and other allergy symptoms.
These Foods Can Make Seasonal Allergy Symptoms Worse
Some foods naturally produce histamine. When you’re already suffering from a runny nose, eating these foods can cause you to produce even more mucus. Histamine-producing foods include:
|· Dried fruits
|· Processed meats
|· Honey (mass-produced)
|· Smoked fish
|· Honeydew melon
|· Spicy foods
|· Chamomile tea
|· Pickled foods
|· Yeast-based foods
Luckily, cooking breaks down the histamines and makes many of these foods safe to eat. If you suffer from seasonal allergies, avoid eating raw foods during allergy season. Eating canned versions of these foods can also help you avoid allergy flares. Not sure which foods are safe for your allergies? The Registered Dietitians at LifeStyle Medical Centers can help you make smart food choices.
What About Milk?
Milk has been labeled a mucus-causing food for years, but some time ago, researchers discovered that this reputation is undeserved. Although milk doesn’t trigger mucus production in most people, drinking milk can increase phlegm if you’re allergic to the protein in milk.
Avoiding Oral Allergy Syndrome
Staying away from raw foods not only helps you avoid increased mucus from histamines, but it’s also important if you have oral allergy syndrome. Proteins in some foods are similar to proteins in pollens. When you eat those fruits and vegetables, your body’s immune system thinks an allergen is present and leaps into action. Fifty to 75 percent of adults who are allergic to birch tree pollen have the syndrome, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
If you have OAS and take a bite of a raw food or vegetable, you may experience swelling or itchiness of your throat, mouth, lips, face or tongue. You may notice symptoms if you eat the raw forms of these foods:
- Fruits with pits
Foods that Will Help You Feel Better
Luckily, there are plenty of foods that can help you reduce your allergy symptoms naturally. Many of them can be found at farmers markets in the Triangle area.
- Foods Containing Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation that contributes to seasonal allergies. Salmon, tuna, basil, oregano, herring, flaxseed oil, chia seeds and whitefish all contain these acids.
- Green Tea: Indulge in a cup of green tea when seasonal allergy symptoms occur. The tea contains natural antihistamines.
- Onions, Garlic and Peppers: These tasty foods contain quercetin, a chemical that may help reduce histamine in your body.
- Broccoli, Pumpkin and Collard Greens: Broccoli contains vitamin C and may help reduce congestion. Pumpkin and collard greens are good choices because they contain carotenoids, which can help ease seasonal allergy symptoms. When you buy collard greens, look for dark leaves for the best results. Eating these low-calorie foods is a great way to stay healthy and fight allergy symptoms.
- Carrots: Take advantage of beta carotene and carotenoids in carrots to fight allergies naturally.
- Honey: Mass-produced honey is on the list of foods that trigger histamine release, but eating honey produced in the Triangle area may help increase your tolerance to local pollen. Researchers who conducted one study discovered that eating local honey reduced allergy symptoms, but other studies have shown no improvement. Although eating honey may or may not help, it’s certainly worth a try. (Don’t give honey to children younger than 1, as it may cause infantile botulism.)
If you’re ready to take charge of your allergies naturally, call the nutritionists at LifeStyle Medical Centers. They’ll create a nutrition plan for you that will help you feel great no matter what the season.
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology: Oral Allergy Syndrome