The prevalence of allergies continues to rise, and there are many possible reasons, including increasing airborne pollens. These climate changes affect pollen levels, air pollution and more. A healthy diet and natural compounds in foods may help ease some annoying symptoms or mild allergies.
Histamine and allergy symptoms
Histamine is a chemical that can cause allergy symptoms such as sneezing and runny eyes and nose, and it also triggers inflammation. Reducing histamine levels may help alleviate symptoms of allergies hence the popularity of pharmaceutical anti-histamines. Several compounds in food may also help. These include:
This water-soluble vitamin may reduce histamine production, and research has shown that histamine levels increase when Vitamin C levels decrease. Find vitamin C in veggies and fruits – citrus fruits, berries, and capsicum are particularly rich. Eat raw or lightly cooked to retain as much vitamin C as possible. Grapefruit juice is C-rich, but it can interact with some medications, so check with your health professional.
This protein-digesting enzyme found in pineapples has anti-inflammatory properties. An animal study showed that bromelain's anti-inflammatory effects might benefit people with asthma or other forms of allergic airway disease. The study used bromelain in tablet form but for general health benefits, opt for delicious fresh pineapple – canned pineapple does not contain bromelain as cooking destroys the enzyme.
A component of many body functions, magnesium can decrease histamine levels and fight inflammation that commonly occurs with allergies and asthma. Over six in 10 men and seven in 10 women don't get enough magnesium every day. Good food sources include nuts – try almonds, cashews, and peanuts.
Most of us know that vitamin D strengthens our bones – but did you know that it also reduces allergy and asthma symptoms? Vitamin D affects the immune system, and lack of it may be significant in the development and severity of allergies. A surprising number of people are Vitamin D deficient worldwide, including in Australia; deficiency may partly contribute to the increase in asthma and allergic diseases worldwide in the last half-century. The primary natural source of vitamin D is safe sun exposure. Some foods such as seafood, salmon, egg yolks and UV exposed mushrooms. Your GP can perform a simple vitamin D test to see if you need more of the sunshine vitamin.
There's a reason why ginger tea is so popular to help treat the sniffles – it contains gingerol, which may help dry up mucus, aiding the relief of stuffiness. There is more gingerol in fresh ginger than in the dried kind, so choose to chop, grate or sliver to get the most benefits. Add ginger to soups, curries and bakes – stir some slices into warm water or your favourite tea.
This natural plant chemical is found in plants including red wine, onions, green tea, apples, capsicum and berries.
The bright yellow cousin to ginger that gives Indian curries their vibrant colour, turmeric contains curcumin, which blocks histamine. According to some studies, this may help to ease congestion.
Omega-3 fatty acids
These powerful anti-inflammatories may help ease stuffiness and nasal swelling. Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and tuna are high in omega-3s. Aim to put fish on your dish at least twice a week.
The good (beneficial) bacteria that live in your gut have many benefits, and studies are underway to see if they may also affect allergy relief and boost your overall quality of life. Find probiotics in fermented foods, including sauerkraut, tempeh, miso, kimchi and buttermilk.