Before you reach for the over-the-counter antihistamines and sprays, why not try some including some of these foods and nutrients in your diet which are known to support a healthy immune system and may help reduce hay fever symptoms.
Vitamin C (found in red peppers, kale, berries and oranges), together with the flavonoid quercitin (green leafy vegetables, dark red berries, apples and onions), are also powerful natural antihistamines which inhibit the release of histamine. Quercitin can also reduce inflammation by blocking the release of pro-inflammatory prostaglandins.
Omega 3 fatty acids (in oily fish, fish oils and flaxseed) have anti-inflammatory properties and may help to reduce inflammatory symptoms.
Probiotic bacteria play an important role in regulating the immune system. They have been shown to reduce allergic reactions and prevent allergies including hay fever.
Vitamin D plays an important role in maintaining a healthy immune system. Therefore it is important to ensure the body isn’t deficient in vitamin D, which given that the main source of vitamin D is sunlight, is extremely common in the UK population.
Bromelain (found in pineapple and nuts) is useful for boosting the anti-inflammatory prostaglandins, and has been shown to reduce allergy symptoms and inflammation, though it may be better in supplement form as these foods are common allergens.
For best results take up to 3 months before the onset of the hay-fever period, though it is never too late to start!
It is also a good idea to reduce your exposure with pollen and other allergens. There are several natural ways you can do this:
- In the summer stay inside between 5pm and 7pm, when pollen counts are usually high. Keep windows and doors closed, especially at these times and when sleeping. Use an air ioniser when possible (at home, work, and in the car) to remove pollen and other allergens from the air.
- Wear sunglasses when you are out and about to stop pollen from getting in your eyes.
- Put a dab of Vaseline or use a pollen barrier spray up your nose, to trap pollen and stop it getting up your nose.
- Have a shower and wash your hair to remove any pollen when you come home.
- Dust and vacuum your home regularly, to minimise the presence of pollen and dust.
- Be aware of the Pollen count (usually broadcast along with the weather), and avoid areas of high pollen concentration, eg long grass, lawn mowings, and trees if allergic to these.