Spring can be glorious with flowers and trees in bloom, greening grass, and gardens ready for planting. It can also be a miserable time if you have seasonal allergies related to pollen, trees, weeds, and grasses.
Your diet plays a huge role in the severity of allergies, according to research. Foods can be a friend or foe depending on what triggers your allergies!
In this article, we explore foods that may provide allergy relief and foods best to avoid while your allergies are provoked.
Allergy Symptoms and Pollen Food Allergy Syndrome
First, how do you know if you have allergies? Symptoms including a runny or snuffy nose, sneezing, coughing, and itchy or watery eyes range from mild to severe. Extra mucus draining from your nose can also cause a sore or scratchy throat. Coughing, wheezing, headaches, and earaches from infection can all be related to seasonal allergies as well. Allergies can easily be mistaken for a cold because the symptoms are similar. Mayo Clinic advises that if you have a fever or body aches, you likely have a virus-caused cold, not allergies.
It’s common to suddenly develop allergies in your 20s or later in life. They can be exacerbated by a new environment, a new pet, and severe stress. Whether allergy symptoms are new to you or you’ve had allergies since childhood, the biggest concern with foods is Pollen Food Allergy Syndrome (PFAS), also called Oral Allergy Syndrome.
This cross-reaction between pollens and related vegetables can compound allergy symptoms and cause oral symptoms including itching in the mouth and throat, and swelling of the lips, tongue, mouth, and throat. Most spring allergies are related to trees such as birch, beech, oak, elm, poplar, olive, alder, and ash as well as grasses, weeds, and mold spores in the air. Here are some foods related to these culprits that you may want to avoid!
Foes: Foods to Avoid if you have Pollen, Grass or Ragweed Allergies
Birch Allergies – If birch trees give you the sniffles, then you may also notice that peaches, cherries, and other stone-pitted tree fruits cause your mouth to itch or worsen your symptoms. About 70% of people who have tree-pollen allergies also have PFAS, according to research. Foods to avoid include peaches, pears, plums, apples, almonds, cherries, carrots, hazelnuts, plums, and kiwis.
Ragweed Allergies – If you suffer from ragweed pollen allergies, then you may want to avoid melons like cantaloupe, honeydew, and watermelon because they exacerbate the pollen’s effects. Additionally, specialists recommend you avoid zucchini, bananas, cucumber, and sunflower seeds.
Grass Allergies – Many people with grass pollen allergies also have PFAS symptoms when they eat related foods including melons, peaches, tomatoes, and celery. Tomatoes and celery may also casue reactions unless they are cooked. While it’s not a food, beer is made from grains, so it is a definite no-no if you have grass allergies.
Friends: Foods that May Reduce Seasonal Allergy Symptoms
While that’s quite a list of foods you might skip, research shows that some foods may help reduce your allergies and many of them are also on the Mediterranean diet, recommended for heart health. Antioxidants, foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, and foods high in vitamin C, quercetin, or resveratrol have all helped people with allergies in studies.
Vitamin C is a natural antihistamine, powerful antioxidant, and inflammation-reducer that continues to be studied for its ability to help reduce allergy symptoms when eaten and in intravenous treatments. Foods with the most vitamin C are broccoli, guavas, bell peppers, kiwifruit, strawberries, tomatoes, kale, papayas, kale, and snow peas.
Foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids also reduce allergy and asthma symptoms in research, thanks to their anti-inflammatory properties. To reap these benefits, add these foods to your diet: oily fish like salmon, sardines, cod, and herring; and nuts and seeds like walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and flaxseeds. Winter squash, pumpkin seeds and beans including navy beans, kidney beans, and edamame are great plant sources of Omega-3s.
Lastly, foods that contain a plant flavanol called quercetin, another power antioxidant, inhibit the release of histamine and reduce inflammation in the body, according to research. To get the benefits of quercetin, eat more onions, apples, berries, red grapes, and even red wine. Black and green tea, elderberries, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and cabbage are also great sources of quercetin.
Experiment with these diet changes and see if they alleviate your seasonal allergy symptoms. We hope they do!
Please talk to your health care professional about other strategies for relief if your allergies are severe. Seek help immediately if you experience throat tightness or difficulty breathing.