Spring can be a wonderful time of year unless you are prone to spring allergies. Sneezing, watery, itchy eyes, sore throat, and runny nose can definitely put a negative spin on springtime enjoyment. Besides just having these symptoms that make you miserable, allergies that are not treated can lead to sinusitis, sleep apnea, asthma, ear infections and other more serious conditions. Add to that the irritability, fatigue due to lack of sleep, and a muddled brain making it hard to concentrate and think and no wonder allergy sufferers dread the spring season.
Seasonal allergies, also known as allergic rhinitis or hay fever, happen during times when allergens abound. Pollen, dust, mold, or dander from animals all fall into this category of allergens and springtime is a prime time for pollen with all the plant life blooming. When we encounter an allergen, our immune systems make antibodies to fight them off and react as if we are being attacked. As we are exposed continually to an allergen, these antibodies go into action and cause histamine to be released which in turn causes inflammation resulting in tightening of the tissues around blood vessels and the triggering of fluids we experience as watery eyes, running noses, and sneezing. We also can get dark circles under the eyes referred to as “allergy shiners” as a result. These allergy shiners appear from nasal and sinus congestion causing blood to form under the eyes according to Dr. Marc Meth. This congestion can also cause us to resort to mouth breathing, nose rubbing, coughing, being sensitive to light, and pressure in the ears interfering with hearing.
Dealing With Allergy Symptoms
It’s not practical to avoid allergens completely without sealing yourself in a bubble, but you can reduce your exposure to them by planning outdoor activities around pollen count forecasts, closing windows, using air filters and keeping air ducts, furniture, curtains, sheets and carpets clean. After being outside, you can also clean out your nasal cavity using a Netipot or a bulb syringe with a saline solution.
Strengthening your immune system through exercise and diet during the allergy season is another way to help deal with allergy symptoms. There are vitamins that research has shown can help with allergy symptoms and boost the immune system. Vitamins to make sure you are getting through your diet to help reduce the misery of allergy symptoms include:
- B vitamins folate, or folic acid, and pantothenic acid, or B5, to boost immune system function. Foods with folate are those such as cereals, breads, rice, pasta, spinach, asparagus, broccoli, avocados, peanuts and bananas. And for B5 add eggs, fish, chicken, cheese, milk, nuts, whole grains and potatoes to your diet.
- Vitamin C from sources such as citrus fruits, strawberries, bell pepper, leafy green vegetables and tomatoes has been found to reduce histamine production that causes allergy symptoms and helps in releasing hormones from the adrenal glands that fight off allergens.
- Vitamin D we get mostly from exposure to sunlight, but it is also available through foods such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, egg yolks, cod liver oil, and food fortified with vitamin D such as milk, cereals, orange juice and yogurt.
- Vitamin E can help lower the number of histamine releasing cells and can be easily added to your diet with dark green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains, eggs, milk and soybeans.
More Nutritional Defense Against Allergy Symptoms
If you suffer with allergy symptoms, another important addition to the diet is antioxidants. Resveratrol has been shown to lower the stress responses that lead to allergic reactions and is found in grapes, berries, grape juice and peanuts. Murray Grossan, MD, an ENT in Los Angeles, recommends drinking green tea as it has natural antihistamines to help reduce allergy symptoms. Drinking a hot beverage such as tea also produces steam that can help with nasal congestion. The antioxidant flavonoid quercetin can also reduce production of histamine and is found in foods such as apples, citrus, onions, parsley, olive oil and dark cherries and berries.
Essential fatty acids, especially omega-3 fatty acid, is another key ingredient in the diet to help allergy sufferers. Omega-3 has been found in research to help deal with the inflammation experienced from our body’s reaction to allergens. You can get this essential fatty acid by eating fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, herring, and mackerel, olive oil, nuts, and flax seeds or with AFA bluegreen algae. Bluegreen algae research has found that it can help increase IgA antibodies that fight off allergens as well as interfere with cells that produce histamine. The National Center for Health Statistics concluded in a 1996 study that people who consume algae had fewer allergies, fewer skin conditions, and less problems with asthma compared to those who didn’t consume algae. To get an extra algae boost for immunity support, this box of convenient packets provides a blend of marine and freshwater algae, tonic mushrooms, sprouted grasses and grains, probiotics and digestive enzymes. Mushrooms in particular have been found through extensive research to help boost the immune system and sprouts are full of natural antioxidants. The immune system also benefits from having healthy colonies of friendly bacteria in the intestines that probiotics can help with.
You don’t have to dread Spring. Just plan ahead and add some important vitamins and nutrients to your diet, get adequate exercise, and plan your times outside when pollen counts are at their lowest and you can still enjoy the nice Spring weather and activities without all the misery of allergy symptoms.
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Bruno, Jeffrey, PhD, Edible Microalgae