Are you starting to sneeze, wheeze or fight off watery eyes? St. Louis pollens haven’t popped quite yet, but some of the tree pollens are blowing up from the south and doing their thing. Do you know you can help minimize symptoms by choosing foods for the season? Read on to get familiar with the best and worst foods for spring allergies.
How are foods related to spring allergies?
Foods can impact spring allergies in 2 ways.
First, some foods are high in histamines. Histamines occur naturally in your body and trigger it to defend itself. But if you have allergies, your body is over reacting, trying to defend itself against pollens, dust, pet dander or other environmental elements. So when you eat foods high in histamines on top of that, you are literally adding fuel to a fire. And this is no sing-around-the-fire-eating-s’mores campfire.
Second, some of the proteins in certain fruits and vegetables are related to those found in pollens. And if the pollens bother you, the related fruits and vegetables (especially raw) may too. When you experience “Oral Allergy Syndrome”, you typically feel itchiness in or around your mouth or throat, immediately up to a half hour later. Instincts are to avoid that food in the future, but you may need to address an allergy to the pollen it’s associated with instead.
In fact, according to this article on Mother Nature Network, up to 70% of people with pollen allergies have reactions after eating certain foods. This may include Oral Allergy Syndrome symptoms, or less obvious ones such as congestion, constipation, mood swings and more. (For a more complete list, see the “Common reaction-causing foods and symptoms” chart in my book.)
So what are the worst foods for spring allergies?
If you start sneezing, get water eyes, feel more congested or even feel more depressed this time of year as it warms up, try limiting or avoiding the worst foods for spring allergies due to high histamine content.
- bleu cheese or other aged cheeses
- smoked meats
- walnuts, cashews
- hot peppers
- pickled or fermented foods such as sauerkraut
- wine (because of fermented grapes and sulfites) and alcohol
Really, you should lay off these foods whenever your allergies flare up.
Plus, this may surprise you because these are otherwise healthy foods. But limit or avoid these cross-reactors to tree pollens, that is, the foods related to the proteins in tree pollens.
At the very least, be mindful of these foods as we head into spring. Ideally, use a food journal to track your responses and hopefully determine whether the food or pollen is to blame for your havoc.
Then stock up on the best foods for spring allergies
Put these foods to work to help tame your allergy symptoms:
- fresh, wild-caught fish
You may want to eat local honey early in the season as another defense strategy. This produces a similar effect to getting allergy shots. You expose your body to the coming pollens in small doses daily, trying to build a healthy immune response to them. However, if you are super reactive to tree pollens, check with your doctor first.
Also, add ginger, turmeric or cinnamon to your tea or food for their anti-inflammatory effects.
Later as summer and fall approach, check back for foods that cross-react with grass and ragweed. You may want to push that chamomile tea to the back of your cabinet!
With a better understanding of how foods can cross-react with pollens and add histamine to your system, you can embrace the best foods and avoid the worst foods for spring allergies.
*This blog is intended for use as a source of information and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice.