For some unlucky sufferers, the spring onset of Hay Fever is as inevitable as the clocks going forward. One morning you wake up with a runny nose, streaming eyes, and walk around in a pollen-induced daze until mid September. It sucks, but you’ve just got to live with it. Right?
Not necessarily. Whilst it’s true that some people are more genetically disposed to Hay Fever than others, it doesn’t mean that you have to spend your summers hiding indoors staring at the daily pollen count.
In fact, with the right approach taking into account good nutrition and lifestyle changes, there’s a very good chance you won’t ever have to suffer from Hay Fever again. At the very least, you’ll be able to get your symptoms to a much more manageable level, allowing you to get outside and enjoy the summer ahead.
Here are our top tips that you can use to start saying goodbye to your hay fever for good.
5 steps to beat hay fever
#1 – Eat an anti-inflammatory diet
You’ve probably heard me dish out this advice for various health goals in the past, and it certainly rings true once again when it comes to tackling Hay Fever. By eating an anti-inflammatory diet, we can help to mitigate the inflammatory response (such as puffy eyes and a runny nose) that accompanies hay fever, and thus, lessen the severity of the symptoms.
If you go to a doctor complaining of Hay Fever symptoms, you are likely to be given a drug calledcorticosteroids which are designed to fight inflammation. However, side effects of this drug can include weight gain and hormonal changes. If these don’t sound like much fun to you, why not fight inflammation the way nature intended – through anti-inflammatory foods?
Everything you eat is either inflammatory or anti-inflammatory. Here are some of the best examples of each:
- Citrus fruits
- Omega 3 (flax seed, chia seed, algae)
- Green vegetables (broccoli, spinach, kale etc)
- Coconut Oil
- Processed food
- Vegetable oil
- Factory farmed meat
As a general rule, a diet high in omega 3 fatty acids and brightly coloured fruits and vegetables is the optimum diet for reducing inflammation.
Fighting inflammation will benefit your all-round health, not just your Hay Fever symptoms. It’s one of the most important changes I can recommend you make.
#2 – Eat local honey
A daily spoonful of raw local honey is one of the oldest remedies in the book for Hay Fever. As it turns out, it’s also one of the most effective.
The science behind raw honey for Hay Fever is pretty simple. All honey contains trace amounts of pollen, because this is the substance from which it is made by bees. A local honey contains pollen from your local flowers, the very same pollen that you are currently having an allergic reaction to. And, by consuming this pollen in trace amounts through the honey, we build up a natural immune response, so that when the pollen comes into contact with our respiratory system, we don’t react as severely / react whatsoever.
Think of it this way. If you go to the doctors to get a vaccine, you are actually being administered a very small amount of the virus that you are being vaccinated against. This allows your body to formulate an immune response against this particular virus, so that if it strikes again, you have the resources to fight it off.
In a 2011 study published in the International Archives of Allergy and Immunology, 44 patients with an allergy to birch pollen were given birch honey during birch pollen season. On average, subjects reported a 60% decrease in allergy symptoms1.
Note that the honey you use has to be raw and unpasteurised. Almost all honeys you find in the supermarket are pasteurised to extend shelf life, but doing so also removes the pollen.
#3 – Take a probiotic
Did you know that over 70% of your immune system lies in your gut? A healthy digestive system directly contributes to a healthy immune system, so if you want to fight off everything that Hay Fever can throw at you, start by optimising your gut health.
The first steps to optimising your gut health start by eliminating processed, refined, and inflammatory foods. The second is increasing your consumption of fruits and vegetables, and the third is consuming a probiotic daily. This can either be done through fermented foods (such as sauerkraut and kombucha) or a daily probiotic supplement.
Probiotics are especially effective for Hay Fever sufferers, as they can improve the sensitivity of the immune system2. Hay Fever is, essentially, a malfunction of the immune system whereby the body perceives harmless microbes (in this case, pollen) to be a threat. The immune system then flares up to attack the invading microbe, causing the uncomfortable symptoms of allergies such as a runny nose or sore eyes.
However, by consuming probiotics, we can effectively improve the response of the immune system so that it flares up only when it is truly needed2. Healthy changes in gut bacteria promote a healthy immune response, which is why probiotic consumption can be so effective in mitigating allergy symptoms in Hay Fever sufferers.
#4 – Support Histamine Production
Histamines are the substances that our body produces when confronted with a stimuli that it perceives as an allergen – in this case, pollen – and it is these histamines that cause the allergic reactions such as a runny nose or scratchy eyes.
Eating a diet high in the right nutrients can help manage histamine production to make Hay Fever symptoms much less severe. These nutrients include:
B vitamins: B vitamins, particularly vitamin B6, can help the body convert excess histamine into other substances more easily. B6 can be found in most vegetables, so ensure a wide variety of plant foods to make sure you're getting enough.
Vitamin C: High levels of vitamin C can help to reduce histamine release and accelerate the rate at which histamine is broken down. Fresh, brightly coloured fruits and vegetables are always your best choice for vitamin C.
Zinc: Zinc deficiency can directly contribute to elevated histamine levels. Due to depleted soil reserves, zinc can be particularly hard to source through diet alone, however it is particularly concentrated in dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds and dark green vegetables such as spinach. You can also try taking a highly bio-available zinc supplement.
#5 – Eat garlic and pineapple
Just not together, unless you’re a maniac.
Garlic is one of the best dietary sources of quercetin, a natural anti-histamine that will help reduce any last symptoms of allergies. It also has powerful antiviral properties.
Pineapple contains the enzyme bromelain, which helps to break down mucus and ease nasal congestion. It’s also extremely rich in vitamin C, which as we discussed earlier, can be a life saver for those suffering from hay fever.
Follow the above steps and I can virtually guarantee your Hay Fever symptoms will improve within weeks. Don’t forget to check back and let me know how you get on!
If you know someone that suffers from Hay Fever, please share this article so we can beat it once and for all.