Hayfever or allergic rhinitis is an allergy to the proteins in Airbourne pollen which comes from trees, grasses and other plants. The immune system then attacks these proteins triggering the release of histamine which causes debilitating symptoms. These include itching, sneezing, runny noses and sore eyes. Many patients also suffer from other allergic conditions such as eczema and asthma which form an atopic triad.
Symptoms often begin at the beginning of May through to September.
Genetics play a large part in this and hypersensitivity can be inherited. However, there are some well researched environmental factors too. We know that climate change causes higher temperatures and an extension of the pollen season. Pollution contributes to the risk of allergies, along with hyper-hygiene worsened by the handwashing required through Covid. Preservatives found in food groups are known to trigger immune pathways in our body too. Further, we know that nutrient deficiency disrupted gut microbiomes will contribute to the development of allergies.
The debilitating condition causes poor concentration at school and work, poor sleep and many other social and emotional impacts.
Lifestyle and diet tips to help you
Remember your genetics loads the gun, but your lifestyle pulls the trigger. This means that even though you may have a predisposition to hay fever, or the atopic triad (hay fever, asthma and eczema) there is a lot you can do to help yourself to modify how badly you are affected.
- Alcohol worsens hay fever; it is also recommended to cut out alcoholic beverages.
- Regular exercise and a good sleep, avoiding late nights can massively improve hay fever.
- Take a shower after outdoor activities to wash pollens out of the hair and skin, wear sunglasses when you are outdoors to reduce the amount of pollen that gets into the eyes, avoid mowing the grass, drying bed sheets and clothes inside to keep them pollen-free.
- Applying vaseline around the outside of your nostrils to help trap any pollen when you go outside.
- Certainly, as many allergens that trigger hay fever are airborne, you can’t always avoid them. The place where you live can have a disrupting effect on the course of the allergy, but obviously, it may be difficult to relocate to a healthier area.
- Nutrition and supplements have a huge role in allergies and I’ve outlined some suggestions below. Improving overall gut health is crucial too as 70 per cent of the immune system lies in the digestive tract. The microbes in the gut work with the body’s defence system. The health of the gut wall and the microbiome can have a major impact on how we react to environmental allergens. You can assess your gut microbiome with an INVIVO GUT TEST ADD LINK HERE. Reduce your intake of inflammatory processed foods and sugary snacks.
The clean, fresh foods included in this diet, like fruit, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, fatty fish, and olive oil, support the immune system and a healthy weight.
Avoid food and drinks containing histamine, which are likely to make symptoms worse. These include cheese, red wine, sugar and chocolate. Reducing foods which are mucus-producing, such as dairy products, can also make a huge difference to nasal congestion. Instead opt for nut milk, coconut or oat yoghurts and non-dairy spreads. Local honey can contain traces of pollen; if eaten regularly, it can help your immune system become more familiar with the pollen entering your system
You can prepare yourself for allergy season by keeping a healthy lifestyle and by adopting a diet packed with anti-inflammatory foods throughout the year, not just a month before the season starts. Keeping good bacteria in your gut is also necessary. Drink a lot of fresh, clean water to keep the system flushed. Detoxification to cut down body toxic burdens is paramount, as toxins overload can trigger the onset of various types of allergies. If the liver can better filter the blood and handle allergens, then the load on the immune system is reduced.
We know that certain foods can be pro-inflammatory, which causes problems for people who suffer from hay fever. Try to cut out on alcohol, coffee, sugary snacks, and some dairy products like aged cheese. In practice, you should cut out on all foods and beverages that cause inflammation and oxidative stress. This may seem difficult, but try starting before the season begins and continuing through to September. For many, these limitations can be well worth avoiding the suffering caused by their allergies.
In particular, onions are great, as they contain natural antihistamines. Garlic is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Pineapple can help relieve hay fever symptoms, as it contains enzymes that soothe irritation. Kale, which is rich in carotenoids, inhibits the release of histamines. It’s also recommended to consume fresh fish high in omega 3 fatty acids, as it can help reduce inflammation. Reducing overconsumption of pro-inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids, which are found in processed foods made from grains and seed oils, is also helpful.
- Magnesium: natural relaxant that can help relieve constricted airways in the lungs
- Probiotics: Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria produce an enzyme that helps to reduce mucus production
- Vitamin C: natural anti-histamine to calm down inflammation
- Vitamin D: Boosts the function of our immune cells
- Quercetin: natural anti-histamine to calm down inflammation
- Liposomal omega 3: improves anti-inflammatory responses
- Pycnogenol (pine bark extract): blocks the release of histamine
- Curcumin: anti-inflammatory compound
- Glutathione: neutralises oxidative stress on the body, eliminates toxins and heavy metals from cells
- There are medications that can be used like Dymista and Kenalog steroid injections.
For more information, you can always book a consultation with Dr Mayoni to discuss your options too.