Beat Seasonal Allergies With A Healthier Diet

The causes of seasonal allergies are numerous and thus there is no specific cure. There are, however many dietary and lifestyle factors that can play a huge role in mitigating, suppressing and even controlling your symptoms.

The most common triggers for seasonal allergies are grass and tree pollen (spring and summer), fungus and ragweed (late summer and fall). The most common causes of year-round allergies are dust mites, pet dander, cockroaches, or molds growing in the home or workplace. Successful self-care can result in lifelong relief of allergies. The greatest improvement with the least amount of effort is often achieved through simple dietary interventions.

A comprehensive approach to managing your seasonal allergies involves many areas in which action steps can be taken, gradually or all at once. Supporting gut integrity and healing your gut has been shown to help alleviate allergy symptoms. The key lies in altering your diet to eliminate the offending foods. Dietary and lifestyle interventions are the ideal place to begin. The Paleo template removes many of the most common foods known to be allergenic. Allergies are additive and the Paleo focus on real, whole, minimally processed foods and a reduction in environmental allergens contributes greatly to symptom management.

Foods to Consider

  • Wild Alaskan Salmon - Wild Alaskan salmon roe along with other healthy, sustainable fish choicesResearch has shown that regular fish consumption before age 1 appears to be associated with a reduced risk of allergic disease and sensitization to food and inhalant allergens during the first few years of life.

  • Liver - Make sure your liver is organic and from grass fed beef or pasture-raised chickens.

  • Fermented Vegetables and/or Probiotics - Including naturally fermented foods and/or supplemental  high quality probiotics have been directly correlated with decreased levels of antibodies that may trigger your seasonal allergy symptoms. These foods further provide higher levels of a different antibody (IgG), thought to play a protective role against allergic reactions. To restore gut health, and prevent leaky gut from occurring, eating traditionally fermented foods is essential.

  • Quercitin (containing Flavonoids) - This includes foods such as apples, berries, red grapes, red onions, capers and black tea, which prevent histamine release and are thus natural ‘anti-histamines’

  • Healthy Fats - Butter and raw cream (if you consume dairy) from grass-fed cows and lard and tallow from pastured livestock are reach in healing rich in vitamin D. Remember that fats, especially animal fats, should be organic.

  • Local, Unpasteurized, Raw Honey - There is anecdotal suggestion that eating local honey may provide a natural protection against pollen. This is not recommended for babies under one year of age. It also needs reminding that for everyone, honey is still a form of sugar and should be consumed occasionally, in small amounts.

  • Hot Peppers - Hot chili peppers, horseradish, and hot mustards work as natural decongestants and can be used in your arsenal for some rapid, effective, natural symptoms relief.

  • Raw DairyResearch has found raw, whole (full fat) milk to be anti-allergenic in children. Although not strictly Paleo, many do find benefit from including grass-fed, raw dairy into their diets.

Inflammatory Foods That You Should Avoid

When following a Paleo diet, many of the major inflammatory foods are eliminated, however, it is always relevant to be reminded of those which can become part of your seasonal allergic response.

  • Sugar of all kinds - Stay away from cane sugar, brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, molasses, colas, pastries and candies, as well as fructose from high-sugar fruits such as apples and pears and all forms of fruit juice.

  • Starchy Carbohydrates and Grains - Wheat, rye, spelt, barley, beer, and other forms of gluten along with non-gluten containing grains including corn, teff, millet and their flours are pro-inflammatory and well documented allergens. When struggling with allergic rhinitis symptoms, it is best to avoid all grains.

  • Omega 6 Fatty Acids - Although essential, pro-inflammatory Omega 6 fatty acids are over consumed in relation to the anti-inflammatory Omega 3 fatty acids. They have been associated with increased allergy symptoms. Avoid processed and fried foods, especially restaurant foods fried in GMO corn, soy and canola oils.

  • Refined Carbohydrates and Processed Foods - This includes bread, cakes, cookies, and cereals. It is also wise to avoid these foods made with Paleo ‘friendly’ ingredients as these are still highly processed, contain large amounts of sweeteners, can be made with processed, gluten-free grains and often replace real, whole, nutrient dense foods that have true anti-inflammatory properties.

  • Additives in foods are triggers for some people.

  • Pasteurized dairy products of all types: milk, cheese and ice cream.

  • Personal allergenic foods.

Allergic reaction to foods can aggravate hay fever or seasonal allergy symptoms. Besides gluten and grains, other possible triggers include, dairy, eggs, onions, chocolate, coffee, tea, citrus, potatoes, soy, peanuts, yeast, pork, and oats. Many of these foods are already excluded in a Paleo eating plan. You may have an allergic reaction to more than one of these foods. Although blood and skin testing can indicate possible problems, the definitive way to identify your own allergies is to test yourself through an elimination protocol. Your personal experience will always be more definitive than a test result. 

Lifestyle Factors

  • Reduce Exposure - Close your windows, minimize early morning activities outdoors and stay indoors during windy days. Close car windows while drying. Hire someone to mow the lawn.

  • Pollen Free Zones - Take a day trip to the desert, to a different elevation or climate zone, or the beach, to get some outdoor time with less pollen in the air.

  • Be aware of your fabrics and their treatment.

  • Avoid scented products (soaps or additives).

  • Invest in a high quality air purifier.

  • Avoid synthetic fabrics and scents.

  • Wash all new clothes before wearing.

  • Use natural bedding - Check to see if you are allergic to wool, down, or feathers before choosing those natural options.

  • Let your children play in the dirt - The hygiene hypothesis proposes that along with all the use of anti microbial substances to support infection control, we have become too sterile.  Children are not exposed to enough particles and bacteria to fully develop their immune systems and appropriate immune responses resulting in, along with other thing, an increase in seasonal allergies.

  • Keep pets out of the bedroom.

  • Be aware of dust - Keep bedroom and living areas dust free by vacuuming carpets and/or drapes often.

  • Reduce pollen exposure - Pollen counts are highest on dry windy days. Enjoy your outdoor time in the evening and during or after a rainfall. Pollen comes from male plants and is spread by the wind. Male plants are often chosen for their neat appearance, particularly in housing developments. Female plants, with large brightly colored flowers, propagate with seeds and are usually not a cause of seasonal allergies. Choose flowers and clean up their petals instead of sneezing!

  • Avoid smoke exposure - Do not smoke or be around others who are smoking.

Regulating Your Immune System

Although not a true cure for your seasonal allergies, a diet that supports digestive health and the integrity of your gut might help regulate your immune system. Including foods that are anti-inflammatory, removing those that are known triggers of inflammation and making a few simple lifestyle changes can prove to be very effective for symptom relief. The Paleo diet supports these principles and provides a solid framework on which to build and strengthen your immune system and reduce those seasonal allergic reactions. Although never a replacement for the advice of your health care practitioner, adjusting your diet and lifestyle are surefire ways to get seasonal allergy relief, both short and long term.

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