How proper nutrition can relieve hay fever

How proper nutrition can relieve hay fever

For many people, the beginning of spring is also the beginning of the hay fever season. Pollen from trees, grasses and other plants fly through the air and cause allergic reactions. Clear signs of this are itchy eyes and an itchy nose, a frequent urge to sneeze or a runny nose. Sufferers with pollen allergy should pay close attention to their diet because it can aggravate and improve the symptoms. This article will teach you how to alleviate hay fever symptoms with the proper diet.

Cross allergies with food.

Those who suffer from hay fever often do not tolerate certain foods. So-called cross allergies cause this. These arise because the allergy-triggering proteins (allergens) in pollen and food are similar in structure.

Pollen allergy sufferers should, therefore, be careful with certain foods. However, if these are well tolerated, their regular consumption helps to maintain tolerance to the allergens.

The following cross-allergies are particularly common:

  • Birch pollen:  stone and pome fruit (such as apples, plums and cherries), nuts and soy
  • Grass Pollen:  Grain products and legumes (like soy and peanuts)
  • Herb pollen, especially mugwort: carrots, celery, chamomile, peppers, tomatoes, artichokes, cucumbers, garlic and various spices


Low-histamine diet for hay fever

Hay fever is an overreaction of the immune system to the proteins contained in pollen. As a result of the defence reaction, the body releases the messenger substance histamine, which promotes inflammation and ultimately triggers the symptoms.

Therefore, pollen allergy recommends a low-histamine diet that does not increase the level of the messenger substance in the body. For example, finished products containing yeast, mature cheese, legumes, tomatoes, wheat products, chocolate, vinegar, preserved seafood and smoked meat should only be consumed in moderation.

Vitamins and minerals against hay fever

Some vitamins and minerals are said to be able to relieve the symptoms of hay fever.

The most critical substances in the diet to relieve hay fever are:

  • Vitamin B6 (for example, in oatmeal and brown rice )
  • Vitamin C (for instance, in peppers, oranges and cabbage)
  • Copper (e.g. in whole grain products and legumes)

Vitamins B6 and C, the mineral copper, and the enzyme diamine oxidase (DAO) contribute to the breakdown of histamine in the body. An increased intake of foods with a high proportion of these substances makes sense.

The following minerals should also prevent the release of histamine into the bloodstream, stabilize the mucous membranes or bind excess histamine in the body:

  • Magnesium (for example, in wheat bran, sunflower seeds and walnuts)
  • Calcium (for example, in yoghurt, camembert and soy)
  • Selenium (e.g. in sesame, Brazil nuts and coconut)
  • Manganese (e.g. in oatmeal, wheat bran, rice and hazelnuts)
  • Zinc (for example, in oysters, beef, lentils and wholemeal bread)

A doctor should always coordinate the intake of high-dose food supplements with the vitamins and minerals mentioned to avoid overdosing.


Moisten mucous membranes – drink properly

Sufficient drinking is essential for the immune system and helps to keep the nasal secretions liquid. In this way, the pollen in the nasal secretion can be excreted more quickly. In addition, moistened mucous membranes form a more substantial barrier against pollen. Water or herbal tea is best. Coffee is also usually well tolerated in small quantities.

On the other hand, people with pollen allergies should avoid alcohol, as it can release histamines in the body and thus aggravate the symptoms. Red wine and sparkling wine, in particular, have a high histamine content. Due to their high histamine content, green and black tea are also not recommended for hay fever.

Caution is also required with grapefruit juice: it can lead to interactions with antihistamines. As a rule, drugs with the active ingredient rupatadine are affected. If you doubt, ask the pharmacy staff about possible interactions before consuming grapefruit juice.

Diet tips for hay fever

A fresh and varied diet rich in vitamins is generally recommended. Sugar, fish, meat, eggs and milk should only be consumed in moderation.

Fresh foods are particularly recommended (because ripening processes increase the histamine content of foods) that have a high vitamin C content. Foods with anti-inflammatory antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids are also suitable for hay fever. Mediterranean cuisine, for example, is rich in these substances, with lots of fresh fruit, vegetables, fish and olive oil being consumed.

The following foods are, therefore ideal for relieving hay fever:

  • fresh fruit (which is tolerated)
  • green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach and chard (preferably together with olive or flaxseed oil)
  • Elderberries, sea buckthorn and black currants, as well as acerola cherries
  • parsley and thyme
  • Onions and apples (contain the substance quercetin, which has similar effects to antihistamines)
  • Sunflower seeds, sesame and flaxseed

Alternative diet for pollen allergies

Some sufferers report relief from their hay fever after switching to an alkaline, vegetarian or vegan diet. These diets score points with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. However, some fruits and vegetables can also worsen it because of their histamine content or cross allergies.

Success has also been achieved with the help of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). It also recommends avoiding raw vegetables, wheat and dairy products.

A complete renunciation of certain foods in the sense of a supposed “allergy-free diet” should always be discussed with a doctor beforehand to avoid deficiency symptoms. A slight change in diet is often enough to improve hay fever symptoms.

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