We are great at complaining about the weather and that includes me! Spend all the damp cold days wishing it was warm and dry then spend all the dry, warm and sunny days sneezing away complaining about our itchy runny eyes. Hayfever, also known as seasonal allergic rhinitis, is an allergic reaction typically triggered by pollen from various sources. It is worth taking a look at A Vogels hay fever app to get an idea of hay fever ‘hot spots’. This may help you understand the source of your symptoms and you can start to look at a number of natural remedies and changes to diet and lifestyle which could make a big difference. It is worth trying to limit those foods that are known to exacerbate symptoms, while introducing more of those foods that have natural anti histamine and anti inflammatory properties.
Dairy: Cutting down on mucous producing foods such as dairy products is a great place to start. These foods stimulate mucous production resulting in a blocked and stuffy nose. This includes chocolate which contains high lvels of histamine and therefore aggravates hay fever symptoms. Individuals prone to an allergic response are often found to struggle with dairy products and intolerances so it makes sense to explore non dairy alternatives in your local health store. Try to pick alternatives without added sugar as this just goes to cause even more inflammation and increase the allergic response.
Sugar and refined carbohydrates: The sudden rise and fall of blood sugar levels (sugar spike) after eating refined sugar, causes an adrenalin surge which, in turn, activates histamine release. If you need a sugar fix try and go for natural sugars such as fresh fruit. The fibre in natural fruit slows down sugar absorption reducing the sugar spike.
Coffee: Coffee is known to increase histamine release which can exacerbate hay fever symptoms. Coffee also increases inflammation, dilating blood vessels which can result in the red, itchy and inflamed skin rash sometimes associated with hay fever type allergies.
Alcohol: There is nothing I like better than a nice gin and tonic outside on a warm evening, unfortunately, alcohol can increase your risk of suffering from allergic rhinitis. So what should you be looking to eat and drink to help reduce those hay fever symptoms?
Anti inflammatory foods
Allergies are thought to be linked to inflammation and therefore it makes sense that eating foods packed with anti inflammatory anti oxidants will help minimise the impact of pollen on your system. Typically anti oxidants are found in the bright coloured fruit and veg like blackberries, blueberries, and carrots etc. Oily fish such as salmon and healthy oils like flaxseed have also been shown to have an anti inflammatory effect. Many of these foods contain beta carotenes which act by supporting the respiratory tract.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C reduces the level of histamines in your system and also supports nasal passage lining. As the body can’t store of make vitamin C, it is important to eat foods rich in the vitamin throughout the day to maintain levels.
Spice up your life! Ginger is a natural decongestant, calming down any inflammation and has been shown to slow down the production of histamine. Onions contain quercetin, a plant polyphenol which is thought to help stabilise histamine levels
Local Honey: Local honey contains traces of the particular pollen that is causing the allergy. Regular consumption of local honey helps the immune system become more familier with the pollen entering your system and helps your immune system cope with the allergy.
Herbal Remedies: If you find you need something stronger to deal with your hay fever symptoms, herbal remedies in conjunction with diet and lifestyle changes may offer what you need. Herbal medicine can help to damp down the immune systems response, reducing symptoms and allowing you to get on with life. It is always best to consult a medical herbalist for advice then the prescription most appropriate to you and your systems can be made up.