Diet and nutrition: how do they help you control hay fever

Blooming flowers and bees are always happy, aren’t they? But if you have hay fever, you may not like this landscape. Fortunately, proper nutrition and diet are good for preventing hay fever.

Hay fever can be prevented by certain consciousness and nutrition.
Hay fever can be prevented by certain consciousness and nutrition.

Cross allergies to food

People who suffer from hay fever often do not tolerate certain foods. This is caused by so-called cross allergies. These arise because the allergenic proteins (allergens) of pollen and food are similar in structure.

Pollen allergy sufferers should therefore be careful with certain foods. However, if they are well tolerated, their regular consumption helps to maintain tolerance to the allergens.

The following cross-allergies are particularly common:

  • Birch pollen: stone and pome fruits (such as apples, plums and cherries), nuts and soya
  • Grass pollen: Grain products and pulses (such as soya and peanuts)
  • Herb pollen, especially mugwort: carrots, celery, camomile, paprika, tomatoes, artichokes, cucumbers, garlic and various spices.

Low histamine diet for hay fever

Hay fever is an overreaction of the immune system against the proteins contained in pollen. As a result of the defensive reaction, the body releases histamine, which ultimately triggers the symptoms.

Therefore, a low histamine diet is recommended which does not additionally increase the content of the messenger substance in the body.

For example, yeast-containing finished products, ripe cheese, pulses, tomatoes, wheat products, chocolate, vinegar, preserved seafood and smoked meat should only be eaten in moderation.

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Vitamins and minerals against hay fever

Some vitamins and minerals are able to relieve the symptoms of hay fever. They stabilise the mucous membranes, prevent the release of histamine into the bloodstream, bind excess histamine in the body or promote its breakdown[1].

Important substances in the diet to relieve hay fever are:

  • Vitamin B6 (e.g. in oat flakes and whole grain rice)
  • Vitamin C (for example in peppers, oranges and cabbage)
  • Magnesium (for example in wheat bran, sunflower seeds and walnuts)
  • Calcium (for example in yoghurt, camembert and soya)
  • Selenium (for example in sesame seeds, Brazil nuts and coconut)
  • Manganese (for example in oat flakes, wheat bran, rice and hazelnuts)
  • Zinc (for example in oysters, beef, lentils and wholemeal bread)

Antioxidants and Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Foods with anti-inflammatory antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids are also good against hay fever. Rich in these substances is, for example, Mediterranean cuisine, which consumes a lot of fresh fruit, vegetables, fish and olive oil.

Moist mucosa

Adequate drinking water is important to the immune system. The moist mucous membrane also forms a stronger barrier to pollen.

On the other hand, patients with pollen allergy should avoid drinking alcohol, because alcohol will release histamine in the body, thus aggravating the symptoms.

Black tea is also not recommended for hay fever because of its high histamine content.

Be careful with grapefruit juice: it may interact with antihistamines.

Nutrition tips for hay fever

A vitamin-rich, fresh and varied diet is generally recommended. Sugar, fish, meat, eggs and milk should only be eaten in moderation.

The following foods are ideal for relieving hay fever:

  • fresh fruit (which is tolerated)
  • Broccoli and broccoli sprouts
  • green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach and chard (best together with olive or linseed oil)
  • elderberries, sea buckthorns, black currants and acerola cherries
  • Parsley and thyme
  • Onions and apples (contain the substance quercetin, which has a similar effect to antihistamines)
  • Sunflower seeds, sesame and linseed

Alternative diet

Some patients reported that their hay fever had eased after changing their basic vegetarian or vegan diet. These diets work well with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.

However, some fruits and vegetables can also be aggravated by histamine content or cross allergy.

Chinese medicine also has some suggestions. Among them, it recommends avoiding raw food, wheat and dairy products.

Giving up certain foods completely should be discussed with the doctor in advance. A slight change in diet is usually sufficient to control hay fever.

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