Anyone suffering from hay fever will know only too well that pollen levels are high right now and it’s causing misery for some. Tell-tale red, itchy eyes, sneezing, tiredness and irritability are all too common symptoms.
Whilst there are officially three hay fever seasons, it’s now that the grass pollen is so problematic. However, don’t give up hope if this applies to you.
Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, shares her five top ways of getting some relief from hay fever.
Any allergic reaction involves a response from the body’s immune system. An allergy triggers the release of histamine, which in turn causes the array of unpleasant symptoms.
Strange as it may seem, most of the immune system actually resides within the digestive tract (commonly referred to as the gut). And much of this is controlled by the gut bacteria that naturally hang out there. These friendly bacteria happily living inside you can help manage allergies because of the role they play within the immune response.
This is where natural yoghurt can take a key role in helping manage symptoms. Natural yoghurt contains a number of strains of these friendly bacteria that have been shown to benefit hay fever sufferers enormously. The yoghurt needs to contain live cultures and it must be natural yoghurt as opposed to the fruit variety. Also ensure you choose the full fat versions which don’t contain any sweeteners or additives; these could have the reverse effect. Eat natural yoghurt at least four times a week for the best outcomes.
Clean up your diet
Significantly reducing sugary, refined foods is key to getting on top of hay fever symptoms. Sugar and processed foods cause inflammation within the body which will only make symptoms worse. This includes alcohol and excessive amounts of caffeine.
Instead, include plenty of green leafy vegetables, berry fruits and apples. Bananas are especially helpful because they are non-allergenic and contain plenty of fibre. It’s also important to keep the bowels running smoothly to ensure no toxic waste build up internally, which will fire up the immune system in the wrong way.
Vitamin A is key in helping to reduce inflammation in the mucous membranes which get irritated and exacerbate symptoms. Plus, it’s also a key immune-boosting vitamin. Eating plenty of eggs, liver and fish, all high in vitamin A, is a good plan. However, the body also converts beta carotene found in fruits and vegetables into vitamin A as it needs it; another good reason for including plenty of colourful fruits and veggies.
What’s that you may ask? Quercetin is a bioflavonoid or plant compound that helps to support immunity. More specifically it’s been found to help manage the body’s release of histamine, therefore it can prevent some of the unpleasant symptoms of hay fever.
Foods such as onions, citrus fruits, apples and green tea all contain quercetin. Interestingly, bromelain, which is a protein-digesting enzyme found in pineapples, helps the absorption of it, so eating a fruit salad containing both apples and pineapple is certainly going to help.
Dampen the fire
With the mucous membranes literally ‘on fire’ at the back of the throat and through the bronchial tubes, it’s no wonder that coughing, sneezing and wheezing are commonplace with hay fever. A quick relief for itchy, watery eyes is to lie down in a darkened room for 20 minutes or so with sliced cucumber over them. Inhaling eucalyptus oil can also really help ease congestion.
Additionally, the spice, turmeric is a very powerful anti-inflammatory so include it in as many dishes as possible. It’s especially tasty in curries, soups and stir fries. Also on the menu should be ginger which is easily added to these dishes but works well as a tea; just squeeze fresh ginger into a mug and pour over hot water. You could also try taking a turmeric food supplement every day.
Add some magnesium
As we know, the immune system and some key internal organs are all irritated in hay fever sufferers. The mineral, magnesium, is a wonderfully calming mineral and is found in good amounts in green leafy veggies (another great reason to eat them). Additionally, foods such as soya beans, kidney beans, whole grains, especially brown rice, and peas are great choices.
Importantly bananas are rich in magnesium, so they should definitely be high on the weekly shopping list. This should create some much-needed calm within the body.
So, try some of these top tips and there can be light and relief at the end of the hay fever tunnel.
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