For many people, the onset of spring means the beginning of the dreaded hay fever season, bringing symptoms including watery eyes, an itchy throat and frequent sneezing. Whilst over the counter medicines often help to reduce symptoms, these in themselves can bring with nasty side effects. However, alternative steps can also be taken for more natural relief, including incorporating different foods, vitamins and minerals into your diet. Leading nutritionist, Sarah Flower, gives us the low down on the best hay fever busting foods.
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1. Quercetin for hay fever
There have been numerous studies into the powerful anti-histamine effect of this flavonoid, which can help to reduce inflammation. Over the counter hay fever relief tends to inhibit the effect of histamine, but quercetin inhibits the release of histamine, stopping the reaction in its tracks. To up the quercetin in your diet, opt for foods including berries, parsley, onions, and peppers.
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2. Biotin for hay fever
Biotin is a B vitamin which helps to maintain the healthy function of mucous membranes which can be found in your nose, sinuses, throat and even the tear ducts. Try consuming more offal, fish, egg yolks, avocados, green leafy vegetables and nuts to get your recommended dose. For those who prefer a supplement form, I recommend New Era H which contains Biotin. These 'FastMelt' mineral cell salts dissolve under the tongue instantly and get to work faster than other hay fever remedies thanks to their rapid absorption into the blood stream.
Herbal tea can help to ease symptoms of hay fever
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3. Herbal teas for hay fever
Certain herbs have a natural antihistamine effect. Opt for green tea, chamomile, elderflower, ginger, peppermint and anise to limit the effects of hay fever and sip these herbal teas throughout the day. They will also help to keep you hydrated, so it's a win-win.
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4. Probiotics for hay fever
Healthy gut flora is essential for a strong immune system. Don't be fooled by probiotic drinks - to really help replenish your gut flora, opt for a multi-strain probiotic supplement. You can also get probiotics naturally through fermented foods such as sauerkraut, bone broths, gelatin, natural and Kefir yoghurt.
5. Local Honey for hay fever
There is some strong evidence to show that consuming local honey can help to limit the effects of hay fever as it exposes you to the same pollen, helping your body to naturally form a tolerance. If you like honey, it is certainly worth a shot, but it is key to source local honey, which can normally be found in local independent health stores.
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6. Garlic for hay fever
An underrated food which can help block the production of histamine and soothe hay fever symptoms. Try to incorporate garlic into your daily meals or opt for a good quality supplement.
7. Vitamin D for hay fever
A vitamin D deficiency has been linked to the development of allergies and autoimmune diseases. Vitamin D also supports the healthy gut bacteria. Try to spend time outdoors every day, or incorporate a supplement containing Vitamin D into your diet.
8. Ditch the contact lenses
According to Specsavers' Clinical Services Director, Giles Edmonds, hay fever sufferers who wear contact lenses may notice the vision through their lenses can appear smeary and eyes can generally feel uncomfortable which can be calmed down with contact lens-friendly eye drops. Wearing prescription glasses (particularly wraparound sunglasses) can prevent pollen from getting into your eyes. He also suggests that those suffering with hay fever could also try daily disposable lenses during the summer months.
9. Switch to gin
Asthma UK says that while alcoholic drinks like beer and red wine often make hay fever and asthma worse due to the histamine and sulphites they contain, switching your regular tipple to gin might help to relieve symptoms more than other drinks. Clear spirits like gin and vodka both have a low histamine content, while gin also contains no sulphites, so it is especially good for people who are suffering from itchy eyes and a runny nose. As happy as we are to hear this, it's important to note that G&T won't cure your hay fever, it is simply the best option for sufferers who want an alcoholic drink.
10. Stock up on Vaseline
Applying a thin layer of Vaseline inside the lower nostrils can help combat hay fever and reduce symptoms. The Vaseline can put a stop to the pollen pollen entering the nostrils.
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