Eat Right! Fend Off Your Allergies the Natural Way
What should you eat?
You should eat a diet that is rich in foods that support the immune system and inhibit the inflammatory response. This includes whole foods, rather than processed foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; fish sources of protein; and plant oils. There are many vitamins and phytochemicals—plant chemicals—that are beneficial for combating the onset and symptoms of allergies.
Vitamin C lowers histamines, the chemical that causes inflammation and allergy symptoms, and stimulates the adrenal glands to release hormones to fend off allergies. The recommended daily value for vitamin C is 60 mg, but if you suffer from allergies you can take up to 1000 mg per day. Foods rich in vitamin C include bell peppers, citrus fruits, strawberries, broccoli, tomatoes, and leafy greens.
You may be aware that the nutritional requirement for vitamin D has recently been increased from 400 IU (international units) to 600 IU per day. Vitamin D plays many roles in the body, one of which has to do with the immune response. In fact, studies have shown that children with low vitamin D levels are more likely to suffer from allergies and asthma. Vitamin D is found in cod liver oil, fish (such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel), and egg yolks.
Though there are not many natural food sources of vitamin D, but sunlight is an excellent source during the summer months. Milk is commonly fortified with vitamin D. In addition, orange juice, yogurt, and breakfast cereals are often fortified. Americans are commonly deficient in vitamin D, so if your unsure if your diet and sun exposure are sufficient, you should consult your doctor about taking a vitamin D supplement.
Studies have shown that folic acid may be linked to the immune system and can reduce inflammation. Individuals who had higher levels of folic acid had less symptoms of allergies and asthma. It is easy to incorporate folic acid into your diet because many foods are fortified with it. This includes breakfast cereals, breads, rice, and pastas. In addition, it is naturally found in cowpeas, spinach, asparagus, broccoli, green peas, avocados, peanuts, bananas, and oranges.
Vitamin E decreases the production of mast cells, which are responsible for releasing histamines. Studies have shown that vitamin E can be beneficial for individuals suffering from seasonal allergic rhinitis. Allergic rhinitis is the inflammation of the nose, throat, sinuses, and eyes due to allergens from the environment. Vitamin E was especially helpful for the reduction of nasal symptoms. You should eat dark green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains, brown rice, cornmeal, eggs, milk, oatmeal, and soybeans.
Phytochemicals are plant components that have several beneficial effects for health, yet are not essential nutrients. Many phytochemicals have properties that help prevent allergies, as well as alleviate the symptoms of allergies.
Quercetin is a phytochemical that has been shown to prevent allergies because of its binding properties to mast cells and basophils. Mast cells and basophils both release histamines during allergic reactions, but the effect of quercetin on these cells inhibit the release of the histamines. Eat fruits and vegetables, such as citrus fruits, apples, and onions; parsley; tea; and red wine. In addition, olive oil, grapes, dark cherries, and dark berries also contain quercetin.
Resveratrol may help alleviate the stress response that starts an allergic reaction. It is found in grape skins, red wine, grape juice, peanuts, and berries. You have probably heard that red wine can help prevent cancer and heart disease. This is also because of the presence of resveratrol.
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)
B5 is important for maintaining a healthy immune system because it supports the adrenal glands and the immune system. In addition, it may decrease the symptoms of asthma. You should eat eggs, fish, chicken, cheese, milk, whole grains, nuts, and potatoes.
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to allergic reactions. Essential fatty acids play an important role in controlling inflammation. In addition, Omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish and plant oils) may be beneficial for individuals with asthma. Asthma can be exacerbated by allergies; therefore, asthma sufferers should be especially sure to incorporate sufficient levels of Omega-3s and essential fatty acids in their diets. You should eat olive oil and vegetable oils, nuts, flaxseeds, and fish.
Alcohol and tobacco can increase the body’s release of histamines, so you should limit your intake.