Allergies are a troublesome reality that many people have to deal with and for some they can be life threatening. Certain things trigger reactions in some that are otherwise harmless to most people. This sensitivity is caused by a release of histamine and the most common way to fight the symptoms is with an antihistamine. More severe reactions to the release of this chemical can include anaphylaxis which can be halted with an Epipen (injection containing epinephrine) and a trip to the hospital.

Nothing can replace these forms of allergy treatment but here are three things you should know about how your diet and allergies may be connected.

Certain Foods Can Ease Symptoms
Those seasonal symptoms that come around every year can be frustrating. Sneezing, runny nose, itchy and watery eyes are the basic symptoms that so many have to deal with once the weather changes. Before you head to the pharmacy for a prescription, try some other options to ease those symptoms.

  • Vitamin C – Vitamin C can lessen the histamines that spew into your system and there are plenty of foods full of it, including kiwi, oranges, guava, broccoli, papaya, and peas.
  • Quercetin – This is a natural plant chemical that can reduce histamine as well. Some foods that contain it are apples, peppers, cabbage, spinach, whole grains, black and green tea, raw red onion and herbs like sage, ginko biloba, and American elder.
  • Papain/Bromelain – These enzymes can reduce the irritation accompanied by allergies like asthma. You can find these enzymes in papaya and pineapple.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids – You have likely heard of the wonders that come with omega fatty acids, but did you know it can reduce inflammation and help your hay fever? You can incorporate omega-3 fatty acids into your diet by eating flaxseed, walnuts, chia seeds, soybeans, caviar, oysters, and fish like salmon, tuna, cod, and mackeral
  • Local Honey – Many people swear by eating honey to combat allergies and others scoff at it. The research is inconclusive on whether or not local honey can combat allergies. If you begin to take it early in the season and on a daily basis, you could build a tolerance to the pollen in your area.

Foods that can Make Your Allergies Worse
This is a no-brainer if your allergy is a food allergy, of course, but there are some diet options that can actually enhance the severity of your seasonal allergies.

  • Alcohol – After a few drinks you may feel better, but if you have certain allergies, like to ragweed, alcohol can intensify the symptoms. It is possible that you may also have a sensitivity to the sulfites found in beer and wine, which in itself can cause a reaction.
  • Certain Fruits, Seeds and Flowers – There are proteins in certain foods that can cause a cross-reaction with an already existing allergy and some that can create a mild reaction on their own. Some of those on this list include bananas, melons, zucchini, chamomile, and sunflower seeds.

Healing Your Gut Could be the Answer
Food allergies affect one in five people which makes it close to an epidemic. One reason for this could be the killing off of good bacteria in our gut. That good bacteria is what helps us to break down our food and absorb it into our system. Here are some ways that you can once again be able to tolerate food that used to make you ill.

Homemade Fermented Foods
Homemade is key here because store bought fermented foods don’t have the right bacteria that you need. The food needs to have probiotics to replenish the good bacteria and prebiotics to feed it. The following foods contain probiotics: kombucha, sauerkraut, kefir and yogurt.

And don’t forget to feed that bacteria with prebiotic-rich foods like jicama, asparagus, onions, garlic, artichokes, and endive.

There is hope to end your seasonal and year-round allergies by taking a look at what you eat. Your diet can affect every aspect of your life, so, of course, your allergy symptoms can be affected by food as well. However, it is a good idea to consult your doctor before you try any of these methods to make sure you won’t cause more harm than good.

For more information, visit Careworks.

Author:  Kim Tacconi, PA-C

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