As 40 million sneezing and wheezing allergy sufferers can attest to, this spring has turned out to be quite possibly the worst pollen season ever. And while hitting the drugstore aisles in pursuit of fast relief may be one method for dealing with the allergy-induced onslaught of congestion, inflammation and watery eyes, a good diet is also a good defense.
“We’re not going to tell people to not take their medication and see their doctor, but there is some evidence that certain ways of eating, like the Mediterranean diet, can be beneficial for allergies,” says Clifford W. Bassett, M.D., medical director of Allergy and Asthma Care of New York. That’s because diets rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients may bolster our immune system and decrease inflammation in the body – all of which can lessen those annoying allergy symptoms.
So grab a grocery cart and make sure your fridge is stocked with these foods. They may just stave off those sniffling, sneezing symptoms.
When it comes to fighting springtime allergies, the Mediterranean diet may be a good bet, according to one study. Published in the journal Thorax, researchers found that children from Crete who consumed a diet full of grapes, oranges, apples and fresh tomatoes – staples on the island – had decreased rates of wheezing and rhinitis. In fact, their diet, consisting mainly of fish, fruits, vegetables and nuts, may explain the relative lack of allergic symptoms in this population, say researchers.
Apples, especially their peels, are rich in quercetin, a flavanoid that has natural antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties. In a test tube study, researchers found that quercetin prevents immune cells from releasing histamines, chemicals that cause allergic reactions. Therefore, quercetin may help reduce symptoms of allergies, including runny nose, watery eyes, hives and swelling of the face and lips. Other foods containing this allergy-fighting gem include citrus fruits, onions, red wine and dark berries.