Summer is a great time to start that healthy eating regime. The good news for hayfever sufferers is that a healthy diet can help with hayfever.
Eating healthily helps to keep your respiratory system strong. Some foods ease blocked nasal passages, helping you to breathe more easily. Other foods have nutrients that can help boost your immune system and help your body fight sinus and respiratory infections, which are linked to allergies and hayfever.
Mediterranean diet recommended for Allergy Sufferers
A Mediterranean diet is recommended as it is high in antioxidants which are immune-boosting
A study published in the journal Thorax found that Crete islanders who ate a Mediterranean diet had fewer allergy-related symptoms. They noted that diet staples such as nuts, grapes, oranges, apples and fresh tomatoes were protective against wheezing and nasal allergy symptoms.
The researchers also reported that eating margarine increased the risk of nasal allergy symptoms and wheezing. This is believed to be related to the fact that margarine is made with unhealthy fat that boosts inflammation.
Top hayfever fighting foods
How do the anti-inflammatory properties of some typical foods on the Mediterranean diet protect against allergies?
Nuts are a great source of magnesium and vitamin E. As an antioxidant, vitamin E protects the body from damaging free radicals. Free radicals can cause oxidative tissue damage, which triggers inflammation that contributes to problems like allergies and asthma.
Studies show that magnesium helps increase lung function and may also protect against wheezing in patients with asthma. Vitamin E is also an immune booster and may help to reduce the risk of upper respiratory infections, especially the common cold.
(WARNING: Nuts obviously not suitable if you are allergic!)
Apples, oranges and tomatoes
These are super sources of another antioxidant, vitamin C. Researchers found that they gave protection against allergies and asthma in the Crete diet study.
The skins of red grapes in particular are filled with antioxidants and resveratrol, which reduces inflammation in the body. The study found that grapes gave protection against both nasal allergy symptoms and wheezing.
Don’t forget that allergies are linked: almost half of asthma sufferers also have other allergies, like hayfever. So anything that helps with both asthma and hayfever is likely to have a positive effect on your allergies.
Omega-3 from fish
According to professor of paediatrics, Dr William Sears, decreasing inflammation helps with allergies. Dr Sears has found that children and adults with allergies and asthma are often full of excessive inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids found in cold-water fish are thought to help decrease inflammation in the body.
Wild salmon, mackerel, trout, herring, sardines and tuna are good sources of marine omega-3 fatty acids.
Honey, Zinc and ‘decongestant foods’
According to a medical professional, drinking hot tea with lemon and honey first thing in the morning activates movement of the nasal cilia, which helps prevent early morning sneezing with allergies or hayfever.
Zinc has an antibacterial and antiviral effect in the body and fosters immunity. Oysters, lean beef, shrimp, crab, legumes, whole grains and tofu are high in zinc.
Natural decongestant effects may be found from spicy foods, garlic and horseradish. Use with caution though, as they may also irritate the throat, resulting in excess mucous and cough.
Try this allergy-busting, immune boosting recipe!
Lovely, fresh, healthy immune boosting sweet Mediterranean salad
- Feta cheese
- Cherry, plum or vine tomato
- Black olives
- Pecan nuts
- Red grapes
- Add some orange for a citrus kick!