May flowers bring Kleenex season! Don’t let allergy season get the best of you. Here are my top tips for surviving allergy season:
- Get into the habit of nasal rinsing
Yes, I know, the idea of shooting water up your nose is almost worse than the allergies themselves, but trust me and give it a try. Nasal rinsing involves rinsing the nasal passages and sinuses with saline water. It helps to flush out pollens that you’ve breathed it and keeps your nasal passages moist which is a key barrier for the immune system. My favorite tool is the Neil Med Sinus Rinse bottle which is available in local pharmacies. Nasal sprays can provide some relief but I don’t find them as effective as nasal rinsing which really helps clear out pollens. Do this 1-2 times daily during peak allergy season.
- Sweeten up your diet with local honey
Consuming small doses of honey which contains pollen can help your immune system become more tolerant to allergens. Try adding 1 teaspoon of local unpasteurized honey to your breakfast meal, coffee or tea and enjoy the benefits of this delicious superfood!
- Increase your intake of foods rich in quercetin and vitamin C
Quercetin is an antioxidant that has natural anti-histamine properties. Vitamin C in higher doses can also reduce allergy symptoms. Make sure to get lots of both by consuming the following foods:
- Quercetin: apples, black and green tea, red onions, dark cherries and berries, broccoli, red wine
- Vitamin C: Papaya, Bell Peppers, Strawberries, Broccoli, Pineapple, Brussels Sprouts, Kiwifruit, Oranges, Cantaloupe, Kale
- Reduce foods that are related to common allergens
The following foods contain proteins which can make you more sensitive to pollen. They are called “cross-reactors” because they look similar to pollens and can cause your immune system to have allergy-like reactions. If you know you have a birch or ragweed allergy, try reducing your intake of the following foods during allergy season to help calm your allergic response:
- Birch Pollen: almond, apple, carrot, celery, cherry, hazelnut, kiwi, peach, peanut, pear, plum, potato, soy.
- Ragweed Pollen: banana, melon, cucumber, watermelon, tomato, zucchini.
- Load up on healthy bacteria
Did you know that most of your immune system lives in your digestive tract? That’s why your diet and digestive health play such an important role in your immune health. The main defenders of your immune system are the trillions of bacteria that live in and on our bodies. Be sure to keep those friendly bugs happy by feeding them: plain yogurt, kefir, cultured coconut yogurt or kefir (great if you’re dairy sensitive), sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha (without added sugar).
BONUS TIP: if your allergies are severe or require daily use of antihistamines, consider supplementing with our favorite allergy busting supplements: NFH Quercetin, NFH ProBio SAP (probiotics) and Design’s For Health C + Biofizz (vitamin C powder).