How To Beat Seasonal Allergies
Spring and summer are a beautiful time here in the mountains to enjoy hikes, picnics in the park, and soak up the sunshine. If you suffer from allergies though, the season can also come with sniffling, congestion, puffy eyes, sinus pain and sometimes a general state of fatigue and misery.
Thankfully there are a number of things you can do to support a healthier immune system and improve your response to allergens and avoid the consequences of the dreaded allergy season.
Gut Health & Our Immune System
A healthy immune system always begins in the gut with a healthy digestive tract that knows how to respond appropriately. There is an undeniable and well-known link between digestive health and allergies and immune response (even to other immune-related conditions such as asthma, autoimmune diseases, eczema, etc).
If our gut sees fewer chemicals, food additives and inflammatory foods that stimulate an immune response, the immune system will be calmer and our environmental allergies will improve. I see this frequently in my patients who become gluten and dairy free or who do an elimination diet for other health concerns and bingo, they often see their seasonal allergies improve or disappear!
Let’s start by addressing food…
Here are the most helpful dietary changes to make in order to avoid triggers of inflammation:
Avoid gluten and dairy – both foods stimulate the immune system and can worsen environmental allergy symptoms. The exception to this rule would be kefir or good quality yogurt with live cultures if you are not dairy sensitive. These cultured foods strengthen the gut microbiome and reduce your response to allergens
Reduce or eliminate sugar, baked/processed goods and juices
Avoid the “dirty dozen” (12 most highly pesticide-laden foods). Get the list here or download the “dirty dozen” app to your smart phone
Drink lots of water (at least 64 ounces a day)
If you are serious about improving your allergies long term, you should consider a full elimination challenge diet and gut recovery program (especially if you are suspicious you may already have a food sensitivity or leaky gut). Make an appointment for a personalized treatment program if interested.
Supplements that help
If your allergy symptoms have already hit or if you know they will soon, these are the most important supplements I recommend.
Quercetin – a natural anti-inflammatory great for allergies, asthma and also for pain. Take 500-1000 mg up to 3 times daily. This, combined with the nettles below, is what will often replace a person’s need for allergy medications.
Stinging nettles – a perennial plant with natural anti-histamines. Take freeze-dried capsules, 2-3 caps twice daily and drink it as a tea as much as you want.
Probiotic – beneficial bacteria important for proper immune response. Take a multi strain capsule with at least 25 billion units daily.
Zinc – 10 mg daily ages 4-7; 20 mg ages 8-12; and 30 mg daily for adults.
Vitamin C – buffered ascorbic acid powder; 2000 mg daily
Last but not least….
It is also important to remember to reduce allergen exposure as much as possible. HEPA air filters placed in the bedroom can help reduce dust and pollen exposure in the home.
Neti-pot or Nasaline sinus rinse can be invaluable for those with nasal allergy symptoms. My favorite is the Nasaline device for a twice daily salt water flush of your nose to remove the allergens sitting in there triggering your immune response.
By following these guidelines, you may feel some real relief from allergy symptoms without medications and their side effects.