As spring emerges, so do pesky seasonal allergies. Puffy, itchy eyes, sneezing, wheezing, and a stuffy, drippy nose are classic symptoms of a hyped-up immune response to invading allergens. As the body goes into overdrive, producing histamine to fight off the assailants, it’s a tailspin of irritation and congestion from there.
If you’re one of the 40 million Americans that suffer from seasonal allergies triggered by pollen and mold spores that bloom with warmer, wetter weather, find relief from allergy ailments naturally with these foods, tools, and tips.
Can you eat your way to allergy-free living? As a sole treatment for relief, probably not, but certain foods may mitigate aliments by acting as natural antihistamines, anti-inflammatories, and decongestants to fight allergies from the inside out.
Anti-allergenic quercetin is a natural antihistamine and anti-inflammatory that helps relieve stuffy, puffy symptoms. This antioxidant plant pigment stabilizes cells that produce allergy-inducing histamines, which are generated as an immune response to invading allergens. To get your daily dose of this antipathy-easing flavonoids, dish up apples, berries, citrus fruits, onions, parsley, and sip some tea or red wine (a good excuse to make a toast!). Nettles are another edible antihistamine. This ancient plant contains anti-inflammatory compounds and reduces the sneezing and itching that comes with hay fever. Steep some nettles tea and sip your way to relief.
This essential fatty acid is a potent anti-inflammatory aid that calms flaring allergy symptoms. Include ample servings of omega-3-rich foods such as flaxseed, edamame, walnuts, salmon, and sardines to fight inflammation and allergic aggravation.
Kick up the heat with spicy foods to decongest your sinuses, increase circulation, and clear away head-clogging mucus. Add some cayenne, chili peppers, spicy mustard, wasabi, or horseradish to your diet for stimulating relief.
Probiotics promote healthy guts with beneficial bacteria and reduce the body’s immune response to assaulting allergens like pollen. Up your intake of probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt, miso soup, sauerkraut, and kombucha tea to optimize allergy resistance.
Allergy Relief Tonic
This tonic has a kick to knock back allergenic assaults on the immune system, stimulate circulation, and clear your head. Yield: 4-8 servings.
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
3 Tbsp chopped ginger
2 tsp wasabi powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 Tbsp raw, local honey
Water or apple juice to dilute the mixture, if desired
1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend at high speed until smooth. Pour through a fine mesh strainer to remove ginger pulp.
2. Serve 1/2 to 1 oz straight up or dilute with apple juice or water.
3. Store in a glass jar in the fridge for up to one week.
MORE NATURAL ALLERGY-CRUSHING TIPS
Get on the Neti Pot Bandwagon
These small contraptions are your BFF when it comes to cleansing your nasal passages of prickly pollen and irrigating the way to clear breathing. Pouring salt water through your nose may seem foreign, but it’s like a liquid flush of a nasal spray. These pots have been used in India for millennia and now, ear, nose, and throat doctors concur that nasal flushing is an effective way to clear mucus and relieve stuffy symptoms without medication. Be sure to start with filtered, distilled, or previously boiled water and get the right saline mixture (1 tsp of salt with 16 oz of warm water) for comfy flushing with a Neti pot for clean, clear breathing.
Synthetic fragrances and preservatives are common allergy-instigators and can be insult-on-injury to aggravate seasonal allergy symptoms. Breathe easy and look for skin and hair care products that contain natural fragrances and are formulated free of paraben preservatives.
De-Puff Your Eyes
Relieve allergy eyes with chilled tea bags. Steep two black tea bags for three minutes, then chill in the fridge. Place one tea bag over each eye for 10 minutes. The caffeine, astringent tannins, and chilled temp will constrict blood vessels to reduce puffiness and swelling.
Ditch Your Kicks
Avoid tracking in allergens and other nasty hitchhikers like pesticides and leave your shoes at the door. It’s estimated that 30 to 40 percent of indoor dust is actually outdoor stuff. If you can’t convince your guy or roomie to shed the shoes, use a doormat and entry rug to help collect 10 to 25 percent of menacing invaders.