Love is in the air — along with allergens like pollen and dust mites that can make allergy sufferers feel like crawling back inside to hibernate. May marks National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month — and while the typical approach to allergies includes medication and environmental modification, what you eat can also greatly impact how you feel this season.
Gut check: eat high-fiber foods and yogurt
University of Michigan Medical School researchers have found that maintaining a healthy balance of gut microflora in the gastrointestinal tract may help you avoid allergies or asthma. Make sure to include plenty of high-fiber foods such as berries, oranges, green peas, apples, whole grains, nuts and seeds in your diet to maintain the proper gastrointestinal equilibrium.
Yogurt is another allergy-fighting food. A study of 120 adults conducted by researchers from the University of California, Davis found that eating just six ounces of yogurt a day (a typical serving is eight ounces) considerably reduced the number of days the participants had hay fever attacks, especially from grass pollens. Study participants also had fewer symptoms of hay fever and allergies.
Try an an-tea-histamine
According to Japanese researchers, the green tea compound methylated epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), may be anti-allergenic. “Green tea appears to be a promising source for effective anti-allergenic agents,” said Hirofumi Tachibana, the study’s chief investigator and an associate professor of chemistry at Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan. “If you have allergies, you should consider drinking it.”
Omega-3 fatty acids from fish, such as salmon, may protect against the overproduction of certain antibodies that can trigger allergies. Omega-3’s also have anti-inflammatory properties that may reduce the severity of allergy symptoms. Other potential benefits to omega-3 intake: may help alleviate arthritis, depression and promote heart, brain and skin health. In addition to fish, walnuts and flaxseed are good sources of omega-3.
Bottom line: This allergy season, include healthy foods in your defense against discomfiting symptoms by adding high fiber fruits and veggies, yogurt and fish to your diet.
Published May 2, 2005