6 Powerful Foods to Help You Fight Seasonal Allergies
By Elizabeth Vennefron, RDN, LD
We are all aware that consuming a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is beneficial for your overall health, but did you know it can also protect you from allergy symptoms or ease them if they have already occurred? Let’s discuss some key foods that may help fight seasonal allergies.
First things first, how can certain foods provide benefits for seasonal allergies? Research shows us that certain foods can help fight allergies by controlling inflammation. Inflammation is a natural process that helps the body heal and defend itself from harmful things such as an infection, illness or injury. However, allergies are a result of the body’s immune system overreacting to a substance that is not harmful to the body. Allergic reactions can be caused by common allergens such as pollen and ragweed. This immune response causes increased inflammation through the release of a chemical called histamine.
Consuming anti-inflammatory foods such as fatty fish, olive oil, nuts and seeds that are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce inflammation. The Mediterranean Diet incorporates all of these foods and studies show this healthy eating style may provide allergy relief. Fruits and vegetables are also packed with key nutrients that fight off inflammation.
Foods to Help Fight Seasonal Allergies
1. Citrus Fruits – Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is an antioxidant that prevents oxidative stress in the body and is also a natural antihistamine. Consuming adequate amounts of Vitamin C from citrus fruits such grapefruits, oranges, lemons and kiwis can also help fight infections.
2. Tomatoes – In addition to Vitamin C, tomatoes are also rich in lycopene, an antioxidant compound that decreases the allergic response of eosinophils, a type of cell that perpetuates uncomfortable allergy symptoms. Lycopene, also known as a carotenoid, gives tomatoes its vibrant red color.
3. Fatty Fish – Studies show that fatty acids, specifically Omega-3, have natural anti-inflammatory effects that may boost the immune system. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines recommend individuals consume 3-4 ounces of fish at least two times each week. Examples of fatty fish include salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna and trout.
4. Probiotics – These are live microorganisms that have health benefits when consumed. Evidence proves a healthy intestinal microbiota facilitates the development of immune intolerance. Further research is needed to confirm specific dosing and strains. Probiotics can be found in yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, tempeh and kimchi.
5. Onions – Onions are an excellent source of quercetin, a bioflavonoid that acts as an antihistamine, reducing symptoms of seasonal allergies. Onions also contain anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds. It’s recommended that the onions are consumed raw, as cooking reduces the total amount of quercetin.
6. Herbs and Spices – Turmeric and ginger are both natural remedies for several health conditions. Ginger contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytochemical compounds that benefit your health. Turmeric’s active ingredient, curcumin, is a phytochemical with anti-allergenic properties.
Next time you’re at the store, stock up on some of these foods to naturally curb your allergy symptoms. And for more help on how to look at food as medicine, schedule a virtual appointment with a Kroger Dietitian.
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Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.