Over three million Australians suffer from allergic rhinitis, or hay fever as it’s most commonly known. So with spring now upon us, many of us will have felt our noses starting to twitch and our eyes itch.
Karina Francois, a leading naturopath and author of Clean Food, Clear Thinking, says that whilst many are quick to reach for antihistamine medicines, there are a number of foods they should also be triallingthat act as natural remedies for building up the immune system and/or alleviating symptoms. There are also some allergy-aggravating foods of which they should be steering clear!
The top natural remedies for hay fever
- Vitamin C and bioflavonoids: This is an effective, natural antihistamine that supports immune function and inflammation. Great sources of vitamin C and bioflavonoids include kiwi fruit, citrus fruits, strawberries, red capsicum and broccoli.
- Probiotics: Probiotics contain beneficial bacteria and taking them helps to boost our immunity by restoring a balanced response to pollen. With a proper balance of good bacteria in our gut, we are less susceptible to develop allergies. Consuming pickled vegetables, sauerkraut and miso is the best way to increase levels of good gut flora.
- Bromelain: Bromelain has a strong anti-inflammatory effect, decreasing inflammation of the mucous membranes and any congestion caused by hay fever symptoms. Bromelain enzymes are usually found in pineapples.
- Vitamin A: Vitamin A helps to promote immune function and reduce inflammation. Increase your vitamin A intake by eating carrots, pumpkins and leafy greens.
- Curcumin: Curcumin is found in turmeric. Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that inhibits the relase of histamine. The recommended dose is two teaspoons daily (preferably take an organic variety).
- Garlic: Garlic is a potent antibiotic and natural antihistamine, and luckily it’s easy to use in cooking!
- Horseradish: Horseradish acts as a natural decongestant. Use in cooking.
- Ginger: Ginger is a powerful anti-inflammatory, and helps to reduce the swelling in the nose. Use in cooking or add to juices.
- Quericitin: This powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antihistamine is found in onions, apples, kale, berries, parsley and garlic.
- Herbal teas: Licorice tea soothes the swollen and inflamed mucous membranes when you have hayfever, and nettle tea helps to reduce inflammation.
Foods to avoid
- Cow’s milk: Products containing cow’s milk thicken mucous in your body. Allergens become trapped in thick mucus and this becomes a predisposition for hayfever. Eliminating or reducing your dairy intake will lessen the amount of mucous produced.
- Histamine promoting foods: Foods such as processed meats, smoked products, cheese, dried fruits, foods containing vinegar, mushrooms, chocolate, oranges, coffee, eggplants, alcohol and beer all tend to promote histamine release, which is what causes sneezing, wheezing and itchiness in your nose and eyes. Avoiding these foods can help to reduce the amount of histamine in your body.
- Raw fruits and vegetables: Unfortunately sometimes your body can mistake the proteins in raw fruit and vegetables for pollen that triggers an allergic reaction, resulting in an itchy throat, mouth and lips. It’s best to eat cooked vegetables and fruits over the allergy season, as this helps break down the proteins that trigger these reactions.