It probably depends upon your point of view, but I guess some of you will be surprised to read that what you eat and drink, how well you sleep, whether you take enough regular exercise and so on can affect how much – or how little – you will suffer from hay fever. But apparently it’s true; according to the NHS website, a 2010 study of over 2,000 people with hay fever, conducted by the National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit (NPARU), found that lifestyle factors, such as stress and exercise, can have a major impact on hay fever.
So here they are, the eight pillars of dietary wisdom from HayMax Central:
Eight Top Tips to Ease Hayfever Misery
Do eat berries, cherries, lots of fruit and veg – almost any fruit and veg but see “Avoid” below – preferably raw but if not, as undercooked as you can take ‘em. The less you cook them the more goodness they retain. Also garlic, which not only reduces catarrh but also keeps the midges away (although you have to eat an awful lot to achieve that).
Avoid dairy, meat, tomatoes, wheat, wheat products & yellow melon and, if you’re like me, pineapple and melon sometimes make bits of my lip swell up. Although curious, it’s not altogether attractive. It’s temporary and it doesn’t always happen, so sometimes I decide the pleasure of the taste is worth the risk. Your call.
Snack sensibly (oxymoron?) Sorry about this, but if you’re serious about this whole what-you-put-in-your-mouth thing, no chocolate. I know! After all they said about it – good for your heart, good for your gut, good for your just about everything (put “chocolate good for you” into your favourite search engine and just see what comes up) – chocolate, apparently, contains histamine. So that’s it for chocolate. Although, surely just a tiny little bit every so often can’t do that much harm…
Sleep long and well Not so surprising, this one. After all, quite a lot of life’s problems seem somewhat less problematic after a good night’s sleep. And it’s just one of the things that can really can help manage your hayfever symptoms. The NPARU study showed that people who slept at least 7 hours a night suffered significantly milder symptoms than those who slept no more than 5 hours each night.
Drinking responsibly 1 Reduce the amount of alcohol you drink. Beer, wine and spirits all contain histamine, and as you must know if you’ve read this far into our site, that’s the chemical that sets off allergy symptoms in your body. In addition to making you more sensitive to pollen, alcohol also dehydrates you, making your symptoms seem worse.
Drinking responsibly 2 Avoid mucus-producing dairy drinks. Excess mucus is exactly what you don’t need if you suffer from hay fever (or are about to give an important presentation, by the by). Drink water, fruit tea (Asda’s blackcurrant is the best ever, but don’t tell anybody or they’ll run out even faster than they do now), herb tea, any non-caffeinated tea – see “Teas to Try” at the end of this article.
Stress the big stuff You need a bit of stress to get you out of bed in the morning (or afternoon, if you’re a teenager/shift worker/actor/musician/someone who gets up in the afternoon) but too much and your symptoms will get worse and there’ll you be sneezing and weeping and scratching and sniffing and it’ll all be off to hell in a handcart. So concern yourself with the big stuff and leave the little stuff to its own devices.
Exercise No surprise at all, this one. You know it makes sense. You should try to do two and a half hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise every week. Moderate-intensity means fast walking, cycling, water aerobics, pushing a lawnmower; that sort of thing. Obviously you should avoid exercising – or even being – outdoors when the pollen count is highest, generally first thing in the morning and early evening. If the pollen count is really high – check out our pollen count forecast here – take your exercise indoors, for example at your local gym or swimming pool. Or on your exercise bike. The lawn can wait.
Teas to Try
Nettle (also available as a juice, and you can pick fresh nettles to make soup. Click here for more information)
Rosemary (Also recommended for pregnant women. Not sure why, but this author drank it – out of a beautiful china cup – throughout 3 pregnancies. No discernible effect, but it almost certainly did no harm)
Pine needles, eucalyptus leaves and rosehips
Click here for the Daily Mail’s take on lifestyle and hay fever
Click here for more information about berries and hay fever
Click NHS website for their tips on lifestyle and hay fever
Registered Dieticians and Nutritionists
For more information or for a more individually tailored advice see a dietician or nutritionist. A dietician is degree trained but a nutritionist is not likely to be. The term nutritionist is much more loosely applied. It is possible to take a food sensitivity test to find out if you are allergic to certain things – ask a dietician more about this.