Seasonal allergies are no fun, but did you know that some experts say that what you eat may have an impact?
Also known as “hay fever,” symptoms run the gamut from a runny nose to congestion.
Jenna Volpe, a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) of WholeisticLiving.com in Austin, Texas, noted that while more research is needed, she’s found there are certain functional foods and herbs that can help provide natural relief without unwanted side effects for many seasonal allergy sufferers.
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Brussels sprouts could help alleviate symptoms associated with seasonal allergies as they have vitamin C within, according to Katie E. Golden. (iStock)
“Vegetables particularly high in vitamin C include red peppers and cruciferous vegetables — like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts,” she added.
2. Stinging nettle leaves
You can pick up this potent plant at your local health food store, but be sure to consult your doctor before incorporating stinging nettle leaves into your diet.
“Stinging nettle leaves (aka nettle; Latin name: Urtica dioica) as tea, tincture or capsules have been found in clinical studies to provide natural relief for many people with allergic rhinitis,” said Volpe.
Stinging #Nettle leaves are tender, mild, and have a green flavor similar to spinach. They can be used just like spinach in egg dishes, soups, or stews and cooking helps to get rid of the stinging quality. pic.twitter.com/MM1MQgWjrF
— SpecialtyProduce App (@SpecProdapp) February 11, 2020
“While the exact mechanisms are unknown, it’s been speculated and hypothesized that nettle has a mild anti-histamine effect in the body,” she said, adding that from a constitutional standpoint, nettle leaves are naturally drying to the tissues of the body, which is advantageous for people with symptoms of allergic rhinitis such as a runny nose or excessive mucus production in the throat/lungs.
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Volpe recommends enjoying dried stinging nettle leaf tea infusions – combining one teaspoon dried loose-leaf nettle per eight ounces of water, and steeped for at least 15-20 minutes.
She also said you can have sautéed nettle leaves with garlic/onion powder, olive oil, and sea salt for a nutritious side dish.
Volpe recommends enjoying dried stinging nettle leaf tea infusions, though be sure to consult your physician before adding herbs to your daily diet. (iStock)
Stinging nettle are common in some forests in the U.S., though the U.S. Department of Agriculture advises that while “young stinging nettle leaves can be eaten if cooked properly,” you should never eat its flowers.
Several side effects can occur, such as upset stomach, fluid retention or diarrhea (hives or rash from topical use of stinging nettle), says the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.
“However, herbs can trigger side effects, and can interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, you should take herbs with care, under the supervision of a health care provider.”
3. Fruits that have vitamin C, like oranges
In addition to oranges, don’t overlook other citrus like clementines or grapefruit (the latter if it doesn’t interact with any medications you may take, advised Golden).
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“Some studies suggest that consuming local raw honey or raw manuka honey daily in certain quantities can help provide natural allergy relief for those with seasonal allergies,” she said.
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“Raw honey contains high levels of propolis, a constituent found to have lots of health-promoting properties including the inhibition of mast cells (the type of immune cells involved in allergic reactions),” Volpe explained.
Try raw honey on its own or in overnight oats, oatmeal, in smoothies or in yogurt, suggested Volpe.
5. Quercetin-rich fruits and veggies
Quercetin — a type of antioxidant found in many types of fruits and veggies — is well-researched and is often used in functional nutrition and functional medicine to help pacify an overactive histamine response in the immune system, said Volpe.
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“Adding capers to foods may be contraindicated for some people who need to limit sodium, but could be helpful in moderation for some people with seasonal allergies,” said Volpe.
Since it’s such a superfood, consider incorporating quercetin-rich kale into your at-home recipes.
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Consult with your doctor before changing your diet or adding any new herbs to your routine.