Spring has finally arrived, but for many allergy sufferers this can really wreak havoc on quality of life as pollen count rises, triggering symptoms such as sneezing, wheezing, runny nose, sinus pain, itchy eyes, ears and lips.
A seasonal allergy is an exaggerated immune response to environmental agents such as tree, grass or weed pollen just to name a few, but not everyone reacts to the same allergen.
Your food could be exacerbating your symptoms
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The severity of symptoms therefore depends very much on the type of pollen it is and the time of year.
Certain food, spices and drink can affect allergies either by fighting them or exacerbating them. In this article, we take a look at foods that are naturally anti-inflammatory and help to fight allergies.
1. Quercetin foods
Quercetin is nature’s anti-histamine. It belongs to a family of plant compounds generally referred to as flavonoids. It is found in many colourful fruit and vegetables and is believed to have anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, anti-viral, anti-microbial, antioxidant and anti-cancerous properties.
Quercetin rich foods are widely available in nature but are particularly high in canned capers, onions, citrus fruits, apples, blueberries, cherries and green tea.
Bromelain is a proven anti-inflammatory enzyme found in pineapple, the highest concentration of which is found in the stem of the fruit.
It is also a good source of vitamin C – a known immune booster. When eaten with food, bromelain acts like a digestive aid, which is important for allergy sufferers as poorly digested proteins can aggravate the immune system.
Did you know?
In natural health, it is believed that bromelain and quercetin together improve the absorption and effectiveness of each other? This may explain why supplements in this combination are so popular.
Turmeric is the golden spice of health, available in powder and now in its raw root from. The evidence suggests it has potent anti-inflammatory and immune modulator on health.
Its active compound curcumin provides antioxidant, anti-cancerous and anti-diabetic benefits.
It may also protect against cardiovascular disease, heart disease and Alzheimer’s and inflammatory conditions such as in irritable bowel diseases.
Beta-carotene is the vegetarian source of Vitamin A. It is essential for a strong immunity system as well as for healthy eyes and skin.
Foods that are richest in beta-carotenes are found carrots, sweet potato, winter squash and all green leafy vegetables such as kale, collard greens, mustard greens and Swiss chard.
5. Black pepper
Black pepper is turmeric’s best friend. Not only is it naturally anti-inflammatory, but its active compound that is piperine can significantly enhance the absorption and effectiveness of curcumin by as much as 2000 fold!
In fact, these two spices are traditionally used in many curry dishes to enhance its flavour.
Probiotics provide anti-inflammatory beneficial bacteria. Not only do they help to protect and nourish the digestive tract, they also improve digestion and absorption of nutrients.
This is important for allergy sufferers as there is a strong link between the health of the gut, good digestion and immune system.
Good sources of probiotics include natural probiotic yoghurt, kimchi, sauerkraut and miso.
7. Oily fish
Oily fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerels are high in omega 3, an anti-inflammatory oil which has been shown to decrease the risk of various allergies in both adults and children.
In fact, a whole article can be written on the benefits of omega-3 as they serve every single body system found in a human body, therefore their health benefits are vast.
Eating whole sardines with bones, as well as eggs and mushrooms will provide a good level of dietary vitamin D.
Although commonly known for its importance in bone health, vitamin D is also essential for keeping the immune system in check. One key role is to help the T-regulators immune cells working properly, as they are responsible for switching inflammation on or off.
Ginger is another anti-inflammatory food with great medicinal benefits.
The natural chemicals found in ginger include gingerols, shogaol, and paradols, which together make a unique composition that confers many health benefits, from the prevention of cancer and cardiovascular disease to the prevention of diabetes.
What is more, ginger also tastes great in many dishes, is cheap to buy and easy to shop for.
10. Green tea
Although not a food, Green tea is a special brew containing specific flavonoids called epigallocatechins, which have potent anti-inflammatory properties.
Green tea also gives you the benefit of theanine – an antioxidant that helps to promote alpha brain wave activity, which gives you that a sense of “calm alertness” that is essential for today’s modern, busy and stressful lives.
To complete your anti-allergy protocol, watch out for the next article on what foods to avoid to tackle spring allergies.
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