Foods That Fight Allergies

The Right Diet to Help Seasonal Allergies

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If you suffer from seasonal allergies, making a few changes in your diet could help ease your symptoms. Certain foods may keep allergies at bay by curbing inflammation or acting as natural anti-histamines. In addition, there's some evidence that following a Mediterranean-style diet may help manage allergies.

Foods That Fight Allergies

Research suggests that the following substances may help protect against allergies:

1) Carotenoids

In a 2006 study from Public Health Nutrition, scientists found that allergies are less common among people with a high intake of carotenoids (a class of antioxidants that includes beta-carotene, lutein and lycopene). To increase your carotenoid intake, look to these foods:

  • carrots
  • dark leafy greens (such as collard greens, spinach and kale)
  • tomatoes
  • watermelon
  • red peppers

2) Quercetin

A research review published in Alternative Medicine Review in 2000 showed that quercetin may inhibit the release of histamines. (A type of chemical released by the immune system during exposure to allergens, histamines trigger allergy symptoms like itching, sneezing, runny nose and watery eyes.) Quercetin is found in the following foods:

3) Bromelain

In a 2006 research review from Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery, researchers also found that bromelain (a mixture of enzymes available in some plants) may improve some symptoms of seasonal allergies.

Bromelain can be found in pineapple and papaya.

4) Omega-3 Fatty Acids

A high intake of alpha-linolenic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid (two types of omega-3 fatty acids) may boost your defense against allergies, according to a 2005 study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Omega-3s appear to fight allergies by reducing inflammation (a key component of the allergic response).

Alpha-linolenic acid can be found in flaxseed and walnuts, while eicosapentaenoic acid is available in oily fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna and herring.

Allergies and the Mediterranean Diet

Several small studies suggest that sticking to a Mediterranean-style diet may benefit people with allergies (especially children). To give your diet a Mediterranean-inspired makeover, increase your intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, healthy fats (such as those found in fish and olive oil), herbs and spices, and limit your consumption of red meat, dairy, processed foods and sweets.

Sources

Chatzi L, Apostolaki G, Bibakis I, Skypala I, Bibaki-Liakou V, Tzanakis N, Kogevinas M, Cullinan P. "Protective effect of fruits, vegetables and the Mediterranean diet on asthma and allergies among children in Crete." Thorax. 2007 Aug;62(8):677-83.

Chatzi L, Kogevinas M. "Prenatal and childhood Mediterranean diet and the development of asthma and allergies in children." Public Health Nutr. 2009 Sep;12(9A):1629-34.

Guo R, Canter PH, Ernst E. "Herbal medicines for the treatment of rhinosinusitis: a systematic review." Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2006 Oct;135(4):496-506.

Hoff S, Seiler H, Heinrich J, Kompauer I, Nieters A, Becker N, Nagel G, Gedrich K, Karg G, Wolfram G, Linseisen J. "Allergic sensitisation and allergic rhinitis are associated with n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in the diet and in red blood cell membranes." Eur J Clin Nutr. 2005 Sep;59(9):1071-80.

Kitz R, Rose MA, Schubert R, Beermann C, Kaufmann A, Böhles HJ, Schulze J, Zielen S. "Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and bronchial inflammation in grass pollen allergy after allergen challenge." Respir Med. 2010 Dec;104(12):1793-8.

Kompauer I, Heinrich J, Wolfram G, Linseisen J. "Association of carotenoids, tocopherols and vitamin C in plasma with allergic rhinitis and allergic sensitisation in adults." Public Health Nutr. 2006 Jun;9(4):472-9.

Shaik YB, Castellani ML, Perrella A, Conti F, Salini V, Tete S, Madhappan B, Vecchiet J, De Lutiis MA, Caraffa A, Cerulli G. "Role of quercetin (a natural herbal compound) in allergy and inflammation." J Biol Regul Homeost Agents. 2006 Jul-Dec;20(3-4):47-52.

Thornhill SM, Kelly AM. "Natural treatment of perennial allergic rhinitis." Altern Med Rev. 2000 Oct;5(5):448-54.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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