For many of us, spring not only brings the sweet sounds of birds and the return of sunshine, but also a runny nose, itching eyes, and constant sneezing.
Spring allergy season can not only be annoying, but it can also stop us from being as active as we would like to be. Face it, it's difficult to get in a long bike ride if you need to stop every mile to blow your nose. Not to mention that the increase in histamine, a compound released by cells in allergic reactions, can make you sleepy and decrease your motivation and energy to get out for a run or a long walk.
Antihistamines, over the counter medications designed to reduce histamine production, also often have the undesirable side effect of sleepiness.
The good news is that taking antihistamine medication is not the only way to cut down on histamine production and kick seasonal allergies to the curb.
There are many antihistamine heroes located right in your kitchen. Fighting allergies with food is not only effective, but fun and delicious too. Here are some foods that help:
Pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain. The bromelain in pineapple not only tenderizes meat in a marinade, but also soothes irritation and inflammation.
Juicing pineapple, core and all, is a very effective way to get a concentrated source of bromelain. Or, try it in a Kale, Pineapple, and Banana Smoothie
The omega-3 fats found in wild caught salmon can help to reduce inflammation. Try to increase your weekly salmon intake to 3 times a week, or alternatively consider taking a high-quality fish oil supplement with a high concentration of DHA/EPA essential fats.
3. Local honey
Local honey that's raw and unpasteurized contains local pollen. Consuming pollen is an antidote to general allergy symptoms by helping your body build up an immunity to the pollen local to your area.
Take a teaspoon or two a day. A word of caution: don't feed unpasteurized honey to children under the age of 1.
4. Red onion
Quercetin is a flavonoid found in high concentration in red onions. This phytochemical is a natural anti-histamine.
A great way to enjoy red onions is to caramelize them. Slowly cook red onions in a little olive oil on low heat to bring out their sweet delicious flavor and concentrate quercetin. Carmalized onions are great on a burger, steak, or fish.
5. Collard greens
This deeply pigmented green leafy vegetable is rich in carotenoids, pigments that aid in fighting inflammation and allergy-associated symptoms. Eating collard with some sort of fat source can increase the absorption of the carotenoids.
Lightly sauté with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Or, try collards as an alternative salad green or as a wrap.
Along with citrus fruit and bell peppers, kiwi is abundantly rich in vitamin C. Foods rich in vitamin C can cut down on histamines, the pesky chemicals that trigger allergic reactions.
Kefir is a probiotic-rich food that helps support a strong immune system by maintaining the good-for-you bacteria that live in your gut. These bacteria help to reduce the immune response to allergens which translates into fewer symptoms.
When choosing keifer, look for plain unsweetened varieties—they make a great base for a smoothie.
Using food to fight seasonal allergies is just one example of putting the “power of the plate” to work for your health. Why not indulge in delicious remedies that boost your bodies own natural abilities to relieve dreary allergy symptoms.