Seasonal Allergies? How's Your Nutrition?

Seasonal allergies anyone? I love the Fall but it’s difficult to enjoy with the constant sneezing, itchy/watery eyes, and congestion from the inevitable onslaught of hay fever.

Typical solution: pop all the Zyrtec and/or snort as much Nascacort without OD’ing. At this point, we’re just addressing symptoms and not the root cause.

Given that your seasonal allergies are a response of your immune system, keeping it healthy with great nutrition may help reduce the tendency or severity of seasonal allergies.

You may still need meds, but personally I’ve noticed that when I eat better, my symptoms tend to be milder and easier to manage. I don’t think it’s placebo as there are some studies to support nutrition for allergy relief.

Rather than only medicating consider combating seasonal allergies by eating healthier foods and improving your nutrition.


Eat lots of colorful veggies and fruits

Vegetables and fruits are powerhouses of nutrition. Many of them contain the following nutrients:

  • Vitamin A - Carrots, sweet potato, red peppers, winter squash, and kale

  • Vitamin D - mushrooms but also found in fatty fish e.g. salmon, sardines and tuna, egg yolks, and shrimp.

  • Vitamin C - Citrus fruits e.g. oranges, grapefruit, lemon, lime, broccoli, peppers, leafy greens e.g. kale, spinach, turnip greens, and tomatoes

  • Vitamin B6 - Carrots, spinach, sweet potato, green peas, bananas, chickpeas, and avocado

  • Vitamin B12 - Mostly found in meat and animal foods, but also found in small amounts in nutritional yeast, nori (seaweed) and certain mushrooms like shiitake mushrooms.

  • Vitamin E - Mango, kiwi, turnip greens and also most nuts and seeds e.g. almonds, sunflower seeds, and pine nuts

  • Folic Acid - green leafy vegetables e.g. spinach, kale and arugula, asparagus, beets, citrus fruits, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, papaya, and banana

  • Iron - spinach, legumes e.g. beans, chickpeas, and lentils, and broccoli

  • Zinc - Vegetables aren’t high in zinc but you can get a good amount of zinc from legumes, seeds e.g. hemp, flax, and pumpkin seeds, and a little from potatoes, kale, green beans.

  • Copper - Leafy greens, spirulina, shiitake mushrooms, nuts and seeds

  • Selenium - Spinach, lentils, brazil nuts, cashews, banana, mushrooms

Not only are these nutrients necessary for life, all of these vitamins and minerals help regulate and support immune function and therefore can help reduce allergic response (1). Eat plenty of veggies, fruits and whole, unprocessed foods for a resilient immune system.

Get Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Your Diet

Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce bronchial inflammation in asthma patients who suffer from grass pollen allergy (2). Add foods high in omega 3 fatty acids like wild-caught fish, grass-fed beef, flax, chia, hemp seeds to your diet or supplement with fish oil.

Wild-caught salmon is an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids

Wild-caught salmon is an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids

Improve your Gut Health

80% of the immune system resides in the gut which is full of probiotics, beneficial bacteria that live in our gut and are involved with the immune system. If your gut isn’t healthy, your immune system likely isn’t either. If you’re constantly under attack from seasonal allergies or just getting little colds frequently, then take steps to improve your gut health:

  • Eat fermented foods rich in probiotics. By eating these probiotic-rich foods, we can ensure these good bacteria outnumber the bad bacteria which can improve our overall health. These foods include fermented sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, yogurt and kefir. For fermented foods, I like WildBrine and you can usually buy it at Whole Foods.

  • Supplement with a probiotic. 10-30 billion CFUs (colony-forming units) of a quality probiotic taken daily should help restore proper gut bacteria balance. I use Renew Life probiotics.

  • Drink bone broth. Either make it yourself or buy a quality one at the grocer. Kettle and Fire bone makes a good broth.

  • Supplement with L-glutamine. L-Glutamine can also help repair and restore the lining of the gut (3). If there are “leaks” in the gut, then undigested food can enter the bloodstream causing inflammation which = not good. Work up to 5g daily of L-glutamine supplementation. I like Now Sports.

  • Supplement with collagen peptides. Collagen protein may have some benefit to repairing the lining of the gut tissues (4). Work up to 10-20g of collagen peptides daily. I like WildFoodsCo Collagen Protein.

Spice up your life

Certain spices, teas and herbs like turmeric, ginger, garlic, raw local honey and green tea for the anti-inflammatory properties. Green tea can boost antibody production and strength the immune system to better fight off illness (5).

Minimize Processed Foods

Avoid processed foods/oils, refined grains, refined sugar, dairy (choose grass fed sources), and alcohol as these can trigger inflammatory responses.

Sub out sweeteners for raw local honey. Raw honey has anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties which can also help fight off triggering pathogens and may help with seasonal allergy attacks (6) Eating the local pollen in the honey may help but studies are conflicting in its effectiveness.


If your eating isn’t up to par, consider supplementation

  • Vitamin D: studies suggest a protection from allergy up to 5000 IU/day

  • Omega 3 fatty acids

  • Probiotics for gut health. Up to 50 billion CFU/day

  • Vitamin A to boost the immune system. 2000mcg/day

  • Zinc for healthy immune system function 30mg/day

  • Vitamin C for immune support up to 2000mg/day

Relaxing, staying hydrated and getting enough quality sleep can also help. Basically just being a healthier person in general.

What’s been your experience with seasonal allergies? Notice any difference when you eat/live better? Discuss in the comments below and cheers to some relief.

Cheers,

Alex

Sources:

1. Maggini S, Wintergerst ES, Beveridge S, Hornig DH. Selected vitamins and trace elements support immune function by strengthening epithelial barriers and cellular and humoral immune responses. Br J Nutr. 2007 Oct;98 Suppl 1:S29-35. Review. PubMed PMID: 17922955.

2. Kitz R, Rose MA, Schubert R, Beermann C, Kaufmann A, Böhles HJ, Schulze J, Zielen S. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and bronchial inflammation in grass pollen allergy after allergen challenge. Respir Med. 2010 Dec;104(12):1793-8. doi: 10.1016/j.rmed.2010.06.019. Epub 2010 Jul 15. PubMed PMID: 20637584.

3. Rao R, Samak G. Role of Glutamine in Protection of Intestinal Epithelial Tight Junctions. J Epithel Biol Pharmacol. 2012 Jan;5(Suppl 1-M7):47-54. PubMed PMID: 25810794; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4369670.

4. Chen Q, Chen O, Martins IM, Hou H, Zhao X, Blumberg JB, Li B. Collagen peptides ameliorate intestinal epithelial barrier dysfunction in immunostimulatory Caco-2 cell monolayers via enhancing tight junctions. Food Funct. 2017 Mar 22;8(3):1144-1151. doi: 10.1039/c6fo01347c. PubMed PMID: 28174772.

5. Chacko SM, Thambi PT, Kuttan R, Nishigaki I. Beneficial effects of green tea: a literature review. Chin Med. 2010 Apr 6;5:13. doi: 10.1186/1749-8546-5-13. PubMed PMID: 20370896; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2855614.

6. Asha'ari ZA, Ahmad MZ, Jihan WS, Che CM, Leman I. Ingestion of honey improves the symptoms of allergic rhinitis: evidence from a randomized placebo-controlled trial in the East coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Ann Saudi Med. 2013 Sep-Oct;33(5):469-75. doi: 10.5144/0256-4947.2013.469. PubMed PMID: 24188941; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6074882.

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