Choose an anti-inflammation diet to help control allergies
I spent the entirety of last weekend outside, one day at a 9-hour outdoor seminar and the other day at my son’s 3-game baseball tournament. Generally allergy-free, by the middle of the second day, I was sneezing, coughing, eyes watering like crazy, and had the worst nasal congestion I’ve ever experienced with runny nose. I used up 3 little packages of tissues in about 20 minutes. I couldn’t wait to get home to my remedies. Sound familiar? What do you do? Take Antihistamines? Visit your specialist for immunotherapy? Are you more likely to take a holistic approach to strengthen the immune system and avoid OTC medicine side-effects?
Many of the foods we eat produce a direct response from our bodies. What we put into our gut is processed by our liver. These two systems work well together even when dealing with all the unnatural foods and other odd “invaders” we send down or breathe in. Occasionally, they become overwhelmed and things they normally handle well, like pollen, become too big a job.
What To Eliminate From Your Diet
The milk protein, casein. One symptom of seasonal allergies is inflammation. We can usually feel the pressure in our heads, but it lingers around the rest of our body as well. It is often present in people with asthma, diabetes and other autoimmune disorders. Casein causes inflammation and produces mucus even if there is no dairy allergy present. Removing it from the diet completely is especially helpful for managing the common triad of allergies/eczema/asthma. Be wary of non-fat and non-dairy items and read the labels. Some cheese substitutes made from soybeans and almonds may still contain casein.
Protein. Vancouver’s Dr. Andrew Weil, who writes weekly for the Vancouver Sun, advises reducing the amount of protein consumed. “I believe that high-protein diets irritate the immune system in some people, aggravating allergies and autoimmune diseases. Because proteins are the components that make an organism unique, the immune system reads them to decide whether materials in the body are ‘self’ or foreign. When the immune system is overactive, as it is with an allergy, flooding the body with animal and plant proteins may confuse it further and may make resolution of these conditions less likely. I have found that low-protein diets can be helpful to people with chronic allergies and other immune-system problems.”
Sugar. Just 3 ounces of sugar can suppress the immune system within 30 minutes, and up to 5 hours. Given that the average American eats three times that amount in a single day, eliminating or even reducing sugar intake can significantly boost your immune system.
Gluten. Foods processed from wheat, barley and rye can produce excess mucus in the nasal cavity which is not drained from the nostrils. This stagnated mucus is a fantastic environment for encouraging fungi, viruses and bacteria growth resulting in sinusitis. Read labels and stay away from semolina, starch, bulgur, gram flour, bread crumbs, bran, spelt, couscous or high protein flour. [Note: it can take up to 4 weeks for your body to rid itself of gluten residue.]
What To Add To Your Diet
Cold water fish. Haddock, tuna, salmon, cod, trout, mackerel, sardines and herring are all rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Shellfish also contains these acids, but not as much. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and when consumed regularly can be effective in treating hay fever, sinusitis, hives, eczema. Asthma sufferers will notice an increase in open airways. [Note: avoid omega-6 fatty acids. These have the opposite and adverse effect of causing inflammation, and are found in sunflower oil, mayonnaise, prepared salad dressings, and fast foods.]
Vitamin C. This is actually an antihistamine in itself. The plus side, though, is that it does not damage the liver as OTC antihistamines can, and it can strengthen the immune system. Foods rich in Vitamin C are broccoli, shallots, yellow onions, oranges, kiwi, strawberries and bell peppers. Raw fruit smoothies are a great way to get more Vitamin C, especially if you make them yourself so you can be sure nothing is added which might hamper the benefits.
Local bee products. Honeybees pollinate all sorts of blooming plants and trees. Apiary products in your area will contain a minute amount of the specific pollens that you encounter every day. Eating 1-2 tbsp. of local honey or bee pollen daily will naturally build up your immunity to these flowering varietals.
In The News
Two interesting studies have linked diet with disease in newborns, or the likelyhood of disease developing during childhood. One study showed that an apple each day during pregnancy will significantly reduce the risk of wheezing and asthma developing. And a diet regularly including fish will dramatically decrease incidence of eczema, even from birth.
Another study in the same publication touts the benefits of a Mediterranean diet. This diet is heavy on fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, olive oil and fish, and extremely low in red meat. It was reported that children are 66% less likely to have itchy eyes and runny nose, and the incidence of asthma, at least on the island of Crete, is nearly zero.