It's official: hayfever season is in full swing. And, according to the experts, hayfever sufferers are likely to have worse symptoms than last year.
Warm weather has meant that we're on track for a more severe pollen season, with a predicted 95% of sufferers affected (according to Dr Jean Emberlin, a pollen expert speaking on behalf of Opticrom Hayfever Eye Drops, £5.29, Boots).
How can you tackle the symptoms of hayfever? Well, aside from tablets and eye-drops, you could try adding these foods that act as a natural antihistamine into your diet. Kim Pearson, a qualified nutritionist with over 10 years experience, explains what you should look for.
We are increasingly aware of the role our gut plays in wider areas of our health. Studies have shown probiotics (live bacteria and yeasts) can play a role in preventing and managing the symptoms of allergic rhinitis (hay fever). Opt for histamine-degrading strains of probiotics such as Bifidobacterium infantis and Lactobacillus plantarum. The effects are thought to be down to probiotic combinations that boost the body’s T cells (white blood cells that are a key part of your immune system). This can increase tolerance, so including gut-boosting probiotics in your diet – eg kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut and miso – or including a probiotic supplement such as Symprove to your diet is a good idea.
Short-chain fatty acids such as butyrate, acetate and propionate are formed through gut fermentation of complex fibres, such as those found in sweet potatoes. Including these in your diet in allergy season could also raise your T-cell count and suppress immune responses, minimising the symptoms of hay fever.
Curcumin (found in turmeric) has been proven to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, alleviating or minimising a number of health issues. Studies have also shown it can lessen nasal symptoms and nasal congestion through the reduction of nasal-airflow resistance, making turmeric a great choice for upping pre-run resistance. Curcumin has a quite low bioavailability when consumed through the diet, so as well as including turmeric in your food and drink, consider a supplement if hay fever is an issue.
As well as turmeric, include plenty of anti-inflammatory foods in your diet (eg leafy greens, berries and oily fish). It’s also worth making an extra effort to avoid inflammatory foods. These include heavily processed foods, alcohol and refined vegetable oils. Any foods that are a trigger to you may also amplify allergy symptoms. Some studies suggest diets higher in meats, poultry and seafood pose a greater risk for hay fever, so look out for plant-protein options, too.
Now is the time to up your intake of vitamin C, one of the most important immunity vitamins out there. The anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties of vitamin C mean it could help calm reactions and boost your defences against them. Include plenty of vegetables and some fruits in your diet; try broccoli, kiwis, oranges and kale, or consider a supplement this summer.
Along with a diet rich in vitamin C, try adding a natural antihistamine supplement such as quercetin to your diet; it is found in apples, red onions, and green and black tea. Pineapple contains the enzyme bromelain, which is a natural remedy for swelling and inflammation of the sinuses, so throw some pineapple into your pre-run smoothie for an anti-allergy energy hit.
It’s unlikely you’ll cure your hay fever through diet alone, but there are steps you can take to lessen the symptoms. Packing your diet with these allergy-fighting foods is an excellent start. It’s also worth investing in a supplement such as Unbeelievable Bee Prepared Max Strength, which combines immune-supporting ingredients to lessen the symptoms of hay fever and colds.
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