I am loving the current heatwave! Long may it last… but so many people I meet are suffering heavy hay fever symptoms and as a result, are unable to really enjoy the weather. So I asked Nutritionist and regular Club Forty contributer, Liz Quinn, if there are any changes people can make via their diet to improve hay fever symptoms.
Here’s what she said:
As a Nutritional Therapist I look to correct the cause rather than just relieve and reduce the symptoms. Whilst the causes of hay fever are multiple – ranging from a genetic predisposition to diet, climate, pollutants, poor development of the immune system and histamine intolerance – certain foods can help support the body, often correcting the cause and reducing or eliminating the symptoms.
A great place to start is with the gut. Gut bacteria are natural and usually beneficial inhabitants of our digestive tract. There are approximately 100 trillion bacteria resident in the gut consisting of many hundreds of different species.
Gut flora can become out of balance through sugar in the diet, stress, medication – particularly antibiotics, and so forth. With a lack of beneficial bacteria in the gut the unbeneficial bacteria is able to multiply quicker than the beneficial bacteria is able to re-grow. With 70% of the body’s immune function residing in the gut, the result is stress on the immune system and greater susceptibility to allergies, such as hay fever.
Foods for the gut
To ensure a good balance of bacteria you need to be consuming probiotic foods, which increase the levels of ‘good bacteria’ and prebiotic foods, which are the foods for the ‘good’ bacteria to feed on and help their populations grow.
Good sources of prebiotic foods include garlic, onions, leek, bananas, asparagus, barley and the fibre found in most fruit and vegetables. Probiotic foods include live bio-yoghurts (natural with no added sugar), sauerkraut, miso and kefir (a fermented milk found in most supermarkets).
You could also take a good quality probiotic supplement. I often recommend Bio Kult to clients as it is a well researched multi-strain probiotic. You do need to be careful when starting to increase probiotic and prebiotic foods or taking supplements as they can cause stomach discomfort if done too quickly.
Whilst gut flora is the place to start with when focusing on correcting the cause, there are 5 foods in particular which can be useful in relieving symptoms.
- Garlic is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral, so adding it to foods regularly is a good idea. To reduce the somewhat overpowering odour, try placing the garlic in some boiling water for a minute before using it.
- Ginger is also a great natural anti-inflammatory food and an antihistamine. Adding it to smoothies such as carrot, apple and spinach is delicious.
- Apple cider vinegar another fantastic remedy with an anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-septic role. Often reported as being the favorite remedy of natural practitioners for the relief of hay-fever. Dilute 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in 3 tablespoons of warm water and drink. It is also great for various stomach issues.
- Turmeric is fast developing a reputation as a cure-all spice, but it really does have many benefits which are proven in scientific research. Studies have shown that it prevents the release of histamine potentially preventing allergy symptoms from developing. It is great when added to soup. To activate the beneficial properties it needs to be consumed with some fat.
- I can’t finish without mentioning local honey. It has been widely reported as being the go-to natural remedy for hay fever. However, to build a tolerance to local pollen it needs to be used over a period of time. For best results you should do this throughout the year.
If you are suffering from allergies and would like a consultation and personalised plan to help correct the cause, then email Liz at firstname.lastname@example.org. Quote ‘Club Forty’, to receive 10% off your first visit. Click here for more information about Liz’s practice.