By Catharine L. Kaufman
This time of year 1 in every 5 of us is clobbered with itchy eyes, a runny nose, nasal congestion, a scratchy gullet, and serial sneezing – gazuntite!
Seasonal allergies, aka hay fever or rhinitis (roughly translated from the Latin for “rhinoceros nose”) is caused by fraternizing with assorted pollens from birch tree and grass to ragweed and alder that come out full boar in the spring. These pesky allergies can be lessened by amping up certain foods and cutting out others. Here’s a blow by blow on what to eat and what to delete to get through this blooming season.
The Big Buzz
Allergy gurus recommend eating locally-sourced honey (preferably organic) to keep seasonal symptoms at bay. Multi-tasking pollen both triggers seasonal allergies and is made into honey by bees. By some weird and wonderful reason, when local honey is ingested it seems to put the skids on symptoms for many sufferers.
Since this close-to-home elixir contains the same pollen spores as the flowering plants and grasses that caused the very allergic reaction to the hay fever sufferer, the current theory explains that it works like a homeopathic vaccination, producing antibodies to fend off the invader. Of course, honey is taboo for young children, whose immature immune systems cannot fend off the bacteria, making them vulnerable to infant botulism.
Land of Milk and Mucous
According to the folks at the venerable Mayo Clinic, “while drinking milk does not cause your body to make more phlegm (mucous), it may make phlegm thicker and more irritating to your throat than it would normally be.”
So when allergy symptoms strike, go easy on the yoghurt and pizza. And if eggs also aggravate your allergies, standing advice, as always – moderation.
Your Stinky Friend
Garlic by any other name (such as “Stinky Rose”) is just as fabulous a shield against viruses, bacteria, inflammation, hypertension (it’s a natural blood-thinner), and even the occasional vampire. Raw garlic is loaded with allicin, a potent sulfur compound with immune boosting properties that has also been linked to warding off seasonal allergy symptoms.
ABCs on Vitamins B and C
Studies have shown that taking C and B vitamins, particularly B-12, may lessen hay fever symptoms by lightening up stress and boosting the immune system so it operates at optimum capacity.
Bolster your B-12s with a dollop of caviar on rye toast; add color and class to a frittata or pizza, pasta dishes or buckwheat blinis. Octopus has a motherload of B-12, when enjoyed in Japanese, Mediterranean and Hawaiian dishes. Do a tentacle stir-fry, seafood cocktail or cioppino with other omega-3 powerhouses like wild caught salmon, cod and bluefish.
Crab and lobster, other sea treasures rich in Bs, are divine steamed, broiled or in a bisque or salad. And if you’re a diehard carnivore, do lamb in a ragu over egg noodles or braised with root veggies.
As for rich sources of Vitamin C, load up on apricots, green and red peppers, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.
Full of Vinegar
A home remedy for relieving allergy symptoms is a good ol’ glass of apple cider vinegar diluted with spring water. This can be warm or chilled, taken as a daily tonic or when allergies rear their ugly heads.
The Evil Cousin
About 25 percent of seasonal allergy sufferers are also plagued with oral allergy syndrome characterized by itchiness, tingling or swelling of the mouth and lips.
Allergies to specific pollens create cross-reactions to certain foods such as fruits, veggies and nuts. So allergics who react to grass pollen may also react when eating peaches, celery, watermelon, tomatoes and oranges. If ragweed is the culprit, watch out for cantaloupe, cucumber, chamomile tea and sunflower seeds. And for alder pollen allergies, be cautious of apples, almonds, peaches, cherries and hazelnuts. For some, just cooking or peeling the fruits and veggies may diffuse oral allergy symptoms. In any event, if you suspect sensitivities, it’s best to see an allergist and get tested.
Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce
* This easy, breezy dressing might also ward off hay fever.
5 tablespoons clover honey
3 tablespoons spicy mustard
1-1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
½-tablespoon Meyer lemon juice
Directions: In a bowl, whisk ingredients until blended. Refrigerate and use as a salad dressing, dipping sauce or condiment for burgers or sandwiches.