Sure, you can squelch the symptoms of spring allergies by taking antihistamines, turning on the AC, and wearing a mask every time you go outside to avoid breathing in all of those little specs of pollen. But did you know that eating certain foods can reduce the need for drastic measures and help knock out allergy symptoms?
The reason is simple: Some foods decrease inflammation and immune-system hypersensitivity in your body—especially those containing antioxidants, other phytonutrients, and healthy fats—meaning that your body is less likely to mount a full-blown attack once the pollen hits your sinuses.
Start by cutting down or eliminating trans fats (hydrogenated oils), saturated fats (animal fats), refined sugars (such as corn syrup or “evaporated cane juice”—aka sugar), anything made with refined flour (such as white bread or pasta), which contribute to inflammation. Next, eat the following regularly to breathe easier.
- Tomatoes. Rich in vitamin C, a natural antihistamine, and the antioxidant lycopene, tomatoes have been proven to alleviate respiratory issues.
- Citrus. All citrus fruits—oranges, grapefruits, lemons and limes—are excellent sources of vitamin C, which neutralizes histamine molecules in the bloodstream.
- Walnuts. Tree nuts are generally high in magnesium and vitamin E—both of which nurture the immune system—but walnuts are top of the nut list for anti-inflammatory antioxidants.
- Apples. Apples contain quercetin, an anti-inflammatory flavonoid, and have been shown in studies to reduce asthma and other respiratory symptoms.
- Fish. Cold-water fish, such as salmon, are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, known to boost the immune system and decrease inflammation.
- Flaxseeds. One of the best plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids, these seeds also contain antioxidants, which may help block the body’s inflammatory response.
- Probiotic-rich foods. Yogurt, probiotic drinks and fermented foods (such as miso, sauerkraut or kimchi) contain beneficial bacteria that, when eaten, have been shown to help the body regulate immune response and decrease respiratory allergy symptoms.