Foods That Fight Seasonal Allergies
Histamine is an inflammatory compound that is found in our mast cells. When antibodies that live on the surface of the mast cells - IgE antibodies - encounter allergens, they signal the mast cell to release high doses of histamines to fight off the suspected invader. Histamines stimulate sensory nerves that cause sneezing and nasal itch, cause inflammation in our mucous membranes, and vasodilation - all which lead to the nasty seven dwarves I mentioned earlier. Other symptoms of seasonal allergies are headaches, skin reactions, rapid heart beat, fatigue, intestinal gas and pain, abdominal bloating and mood changes.
The good news is that you can help to reduce your allergy symptoms by making small changes to what you eat.
Here is a list of specific vitamins and food compounds that can help you get through the allergy season.
Vitamin C - A natural antihistamine, Vitamin C works by destroying the molecular structure of histamine, thereby decreasing the amount of histamine in the blood. Foods rich in vitamin C are bell peppers, citrus fruits, strawberries, broccoli, tomatoes and leafy greens.
Folate - Also known as B9 or folic acid - studies show that individuals with the highest levels of folate had less allergic symptoms. Foods rich in folate are spinach, asparagus, broccoli, green peas, avocados, peanuts, bananas and oranges.
Vitamin D - recently researchers at the Children's National Medical Center found that children who suffered from seasonal allergies and asthma were twenty times more likely to be deficient in vitamin D than those who had no asthma or allergies. Another study found that adults who took 4000IU of supplemental vitamin D daily had less daytime sneezing, nasal congestion and runny nose. Foods rich in vitamin D are fatty fish, beef liver, cheese and egg yolks.
Vitamin E decreases the production of mast cells, which are responsible for the releasing of histamines. Foods rich in vitamin E are dark leafy greens, legumes, nuts, whole grains, brown rice, cornmeal, egg yolks, milk, oatmeal and soybeans.
Quercetin is a plant compound or phytochemical that stabilizes mast cell membranes and prevents the release of histamine and other inflammatory agents. Quercetin is also a strong anti-oxidant with anti-viral and gastro-protective qualities. Quercetin must be taken for three to six weeks to see a beneficial effect, or better yet, can be taken preventively before allergy season begins and continued throughout. Foods rich in quercetin are apples, onions, citrus fruits, parsley, tea, red wine, olive oil, grapes, dark cherries, and dark berries.