Hay-fever season: natural ways to ease your symptoms
The VITL Nutrition Team / 10 May 2018
Allergy UK estimates that nearly 18 million people have hayfever in the UK which is about 30% of the population!. If you have experienced it then you’ll know that, while it is considered a minor medical issue, in reality, symptoms can range from uncomfortable to debilitating.
Over-the-counter antihistamines are most people's go-to relief for hayfever but they have side effects in themselves, including drowsiness, impaired thinking, dry mouth, dizziness and constipation.
How nutrition can help
If you want to avoid antihistamines and the side effects that come with them, then, as they say, let food be thy medicine. By both reducing the amount of histamines and mucus-forming foods you eat alongside including anti-inflammatory and natural antihistamine foods, you can help manage symptoms.
Types of hayfever
Around 95% of hayfever sufferers are allergic to grass pollen and a 1/4 to tree pollen (so you can be allergic to both!). Mould spores and weed pollen can also trigger symptoms.
How hay fever and food sensitivities are related
Although many people think that their symptoms are unrelated to foods, some sufferers often experience ‘itchy’ mouth from certain foods, indicating ‘cross-reactivity’. Even without immediate symptoms in the gastrointestinal tract, these people may have food sensitivities which are aggravating their hay fever symptoms.
Those allergic to pollen can become sensitive to similar proteins found in grains, grasses and possibly milk, fruit, and vegetables. For example, if you are allergic to grass pollen, you may be sensitive to tomatoes, dairy, wheat, melon and oranges. Tree pollen allergies tend to be related to tree nuts (almonds, walnuts, brazils), nightshade vegetables, peaches, nectarines, apples and apricots.
Many hayfever symptoms are due to the body reacting to pollen by producing too much histamine. Histamine causes mucous formation and itchy eyes and nose.
As well as being made in the body, histamines are also in the foods we eat. Reducing consumption of high histamine foods such as alcohol (especially wine), coffee, chocolate and cheese is a good place to start. Additionally, milk products can be mucous forming too, so eliminating and replacing them with non-dairy alternatives such as rice or coconut milk can help reduce catarrh and the worst of the streaming.
- Alcohol (especially wine)
- Milk products
Once you have taken troublesome foods out of your diet there are a number of key nutrients to add to your diet that may help alleviate hay fever symptoms and taking your daily VITL supplement strip can really help to boost your consumption of these key nutrients.
Studies also show that vitamin E and choline may help alleviate symptoms and vitamin C is a natural antihistamine. Quercetin, a plant flavonoid found in abundance in yellow peppers and capers, has also been shown to reduce allergy reactivity.
Additionally, omega 3 is particularly important as it regulates your immune response providing an anti-inflammatory effect.
Last but not least, some studies have found an association between low levels of vitamin D with hay fever and other allergies, so if you're not getting your 15 minutes of daily direct sun exposure every day, we suggest supplementing. (Vegans and vegetarians can rest assured that ours is vegan!)