Around 12 million people in the UK suffer from hayfever. The allergy typically causes sneezing, coughing and itchy eyes – which is only somewhat relieved by taking antihistamines and staying indoors. If you're dreading peak hayfever season, changing your diet could help.
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Experts suggest cutting back on foods which encourage mucus production, including dairy, sugar and excessive starch. At the same time, try to increase your intake of foods with natural antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties.
On the menu...
Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel and sardines, that are high in omega 3 fatty acids have an anti-inflammatory effect in the body. If you're vegetarian or don't like fish, flaxseeds and chia seeds are a good source of these essential fats. Alternatively, consider taking an omega-3 supplement.
Fruit and veg – especially when eaten raw. Just avoid tomatoes and oranges as these both contain histamine. Onion, kale, apples, grapes and berries are a good choice as they contain quercetin, an antioxidant and natural anti-inflammatory thought to help fight the symptoms of hayfever. Another good choice is pineapple, which contains bromelain, an enzyme that has strong anti-inflammatory properties.
Unsalted nuts and seeds
Honey - anecdotal evidence suggests eating locally produced honey can help.
Beans, lentils, soya and tofu.
Herbal teas, especially green tea.
Off the menu...
Dairy products, such as milk and cheese.
Meat. Experts say that arachidonic acid contributes to allergic and inflammatory reactions.
Wheat and wheat products including bread, pasta and noodles.
Coffee and alcohol: if the liver is strained it can increase hayfever symptoms. Red wine in particular should be avoided as it contains histamine.
Chocolate is another food that contains histamine.
A healthy gut
A healthy gut makes for a healthy immune system, and for that reason, some nutritionists recommend taking a probiotic. Researchers at the Institute of Food Research discovered that a daily probiotic drink containing Lactobacillus casei changed the way the body's immune system responds to grass pollen.
The study was backed up by another, published last year in the journal PLoS One, which revealed that probiotics can produce systematic changes to the cells lining the nasal cavity. Change your diet and take a daily probiotic supplement along with antihistamines, and you could start to feel the difference.