5 Foods to Eat Right Now to Help Combat Seasonal Allergies, Expert Says
It's the end of April, which means that beautiful flowers are in full bloom; and consequently, our eyes are itchier than ever and our noses are routinely runny. More than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year, and many of us are currently struggling the minute we walk out of the door. However, there may be a few foods that can help ease those pesky seasonal allergies.
"A study that was released by the National Institute of Health found that the lack of diversity in the gut microbiota, aka good bacteria in the gut, was associated with seasonal allergies," Sharon Brown, clinical nutritionist and founder of Bonafide Provisions says. "Your gut has a direct effect on sneezing, itchy eyes, and other seasonal allergy symptoms. Focusing on the gut, rather than the nose, is key to combating seasonal allergies.
While Brown adds that the best time to start repopulating the gut with good bacteria is before seasonal allergies hit, you can still take measures now (mid-season) to help reduce the severity of your symptoms. Below, she shares five foods that will help heal your gut and combat seasonal allergies along the way. Later, stick around for The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.
Bone broth is rich in L-glutamine, an amino acid that helps boost immune cell activity in the gut and soothes the epithelial tissue that lines the intestine, according to Brown.
"With up to 70% of your immune system in the gut, bone broth is key to rebuilding the good gut bacteria," Brown says. (Don't miss What Happens to Your Body When You Drink Bone Broth to read more about this food's health benefits.)
"Coconut kefir can have up to 30 different strains of good bacteria," Brown says. "It's important to repopulate the good bacteria in your gut, and coconut kefir ensures you are providing several strains of good bacteria."
Ginger root holds quite a few medicinal properties, having an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effect on the body. Brown also says ginger has an antihistamine-like effect on the body, which can help clear up a stuffy nose. Remember, drugs such as Allegra, Claritin, and Zyrtec are all antihistamines, which block or reduce histamines and allow allergy symptoms to subside. If consumed regularly, ginger may yield a similar effect as one of these popular over-the-counter medications.
"It also aids in digestion, which is key to making sure the body runs efficiently," Brown says. "Proper digestion ensures the body absorbs all of the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients from your food consumption."
Much like ginger, turmeric is lauded for its anti-inflammatory properties. Brown says the spice is "proven to reduce inflammation which can help with a stuffy nose, as well."
Don't miss Why You Should Be Eating Turmeric Right Now to learn more about the health benefits that this spice provides.
Foods rich in vitamin C
Eating foods that are rich in vitamin C can supply the body with a host of health benefits, from improved immune function to healthier skin. However, Brown also points out that vitamin C-rich foods can have an antihistamine effect.
"My leading suggestion is to consume cruciferous vegetables that are rich in vitamin C, including Brussels sprouts and cauliflower," she says. "These foods help with the detoxification pathways of the liver, which will help shuttle toxins out of the body."
Bottom line: Brown says the key to fighting seasonal allergies starts within our gut.
"We need to change the way we look at seasonal allergies," she adds. "In my experience practicing nutrition, I found when my patients healed their gut, their seasonal allergies were no longer an issue. Hippocrates said all disease begins in the gut, and I've seen this to be true when it comes to seasonal allergies, as well."