Food Health & Diet

Foods That Help You Fight Seasonal Allergies

Citrus StopPhoto by sjdunphy

Seasonal allergies got you sneezing and/or sniffling? Although an antihistamine pill can help for a while, there is an even better solution which doesn’t involve taking pills. Go into your kitchen instead to medicine cabinet, because some foods have natural antihistamine effects. By adding certain foods into your diet you will feel well all through the allergy season, without unwanted side effects.

Most allergy symptoms occur when the immune system of the body overreacts to substances in the environment, such as dust, pollen, or animal dander, and starts fighting them as if they were viruses or bacteria by releasing a biochemical called histamine. You can blame your parents for this issue, since the tendency is inherited, but some experts claim that a healthy diet and some nutritional supplements can balance your immune system, keeping it strong.

Incorporating the following foods into your diet can help eliminate or at least reduce your need for antihistamine medication. You should do this year-round for maximum effect, or at least start two months before your symptoms normally flare up. You should aim for at least two servings per day from each of the following categories. Focus on foods which are rich in anthocyanins, carotenoids, and quercetin.

Carotenoids

One of the most widespread groups of naturally occurring pigments are carotenoids. They are largely responsible for the yellow, orange and red color of many fruits and vegetables, though they are also found in a number of dark green vegetables as well as in other foods. One study in Germany has found that people with high blood levels of carotenoids, were at lower risk for allergic rhinitis. In order to get more carotenoids into your diet, you should eat carrots, eggs (the yolk contains carotenoids), apricots, collard greens, salmon, squash, kale, spinach, tomatoes and sweet potatoes. You should also try to season foods with chili pepper and cayenne pepper, too, because these spices also provide carotenoids.

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Anthocyanins

These flavonoids give dark red as well as purple foods their characteristic hue. These flavonoids act as natural antihistamines, and they also have anti-inflammatory properties. This means that foods, which are rich in anthocyanin, help reduce swelling in nasal passages and sinuses and relieve the congestion that leads to headaches and trouble sleeping. Good sources include blackberries, blood oranges, black beans, black currants, eggplant, blueberries, red cabbage, elderberries, red onion and red leaf lettuce.

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Quercetin

Quercetin is a yellowish flavonoid food pigment. This pigment appears to help prevent immune cells from releasing histamine. Sage, red wine, raspberries, parsley, onions, olive oil, citrus fruits, capers, broccoli, and apples are great sources of quercetin.

Green tea (also helpful)

Flavonoids, which can be found in green tea, tend to stabilize cells in the body which are responsible for the release of histamine. Green tea also contains theanine, which is an amino acid that has been shown to block histamine release. Green tea is better at fighting allergies in comparison to oolong or black tea, since it is less processed and thus retains more of its healthful properties. It is recommended to drink a cup or more of green tea daily for further relief from aggravating seasonal allergies.

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