Spring is in the air! Outside I see flowers, shrubs and trees blooming in an array of colors from bright white to deep purple. Birds are singing and bumble bees have begun to come out. Finally time to take off the shoes and walk in my dandelion strewn lawn barefoot. This is a time of year I look forward with eagerness especially after a long and cold winter.
This also happens to be a tough time for those of us with seasonal allergies. I imagine you, like I, don’t want to spend spring, summer and fall indoors and so it’s time to figure out what will calm down those allergies.
While you may be focused more on the pollen outdoors for your suffering it’s important to remember that underlying medical conditions are the more likely reason you’re experiencing a heightened reaction to beautiful buds outside. Anything that disrupts or weakens your immune system like stress, lack of sleep, recent trauma, illness or food allergies can heighten your response to seasonal allergens.
Why is this? Because stress, lack of sleep etc. can all result in chronic inflammation. When we reduce chronic inflammation in our body, our seasonal allergies can disappear. And to do that we need to look at our gut and see what foods might be irritating our digestive system and putting out good gut bacteria out of balance with good gut bacteria.
There are several foods that cause inflammation in the body. Starting with common culprits like the following is a good place to begin;
- conventional dairy
- sugar substitute
- processed foods
If you have a ragweed sensitivity then avoiding melons, bananas, cucumbers, sunflower seeds, echinacea and chamomile can be helpful.
In general, avoiding foods you are sensitive to is a good idea and if you aren’t aware of what those are, try an elimination diet to see what might be reactive for you.
Just as there are foods that make allergies worse, there are also foods that can help. Bone broth and probiotics are great for easing digestive systems and clearing mucus. You might also try to add more ginger and local honey into your diet to help ease symptoms.
I particularly love nettle tea during the allergy season, it helps to reduce inflammation. Right now in the Pacific Northwest it’s easy to find by foraging in the forests but for those of you who don’t live near patches of nettle you can buy this dried which works just as well.
Spirulina is also a great supplement to try as it blocks the release of histamines that cause symptoms. It’s also a nice binder to help clear out toxins that also cause inflammation.
Other lifestyle methods to reduce exposure to allergens includes;
- reducing carpeted areas in your home and replace with hardwood if possible.
- clearing clutter and dusting
- removing cleaning products and body care products with “fragrances”
- wiping down pets when they come back indoors
- leave your shoes outside or by the door to reduce tracking particles inside
- try an air filter with HEPA and activated charcoal if possible
- stay hydrated
- get plenty of sleep
- stress management
If you’re not sure what to try with regard to food and diet, try downloading my easy Clean Eating Meal Plan which is paleo based and also eliminates a number of the foods noted above.
I’d love to hear what steps you take to reduce your seasonal allergies. Please share in the comments.