These little green trees are rich in sulforaphane, an antioxidant that’s been found to fight airway inflammation, helping allergy and asthma suffers stay wheeze-free, research shows. One study at the University of California, Los Angeles, suggests you need to chow down on only 100 to 200 grams—about one cup—of the super veggie per day to reap benefits.
Serve this sneeze-fighting fish tonight. The omega-3 fats EPA and DHA in the salmon act as antioxidants and prevent your body from releasing histamines, chemicals that are pumped out by cells during an immune response, causing allergic reactions, notes a study in the British Journal of Nutrition. Other fish rich in omega-3s to try: mackerel, sardines and tuna.
Bacteria in the intestines of healthy people can be the key to maintaining a robust immune system and overall health. Probiotic bacteria may also have a role in lessening allergy symptoms. A 2017 study from the University of Florida, conducted during the height of the spring allergy season, found that participants who took a probiotic supplement suffered fewer allergy symptoms than those who took a placebo. Probiotics are found in different forms, including fermented dairy products such as yogurt and kefir.
The flavonoid quercetin, found in citrus fruits like oranges and lemons, may help thwart sneezing, runny nose, congestion and other symptoms, reports a Japanese study. Quercetin seems to help blunt the expression of genes that control the histamine response. Apples and red wine are two other quercetin-rich foods.
These alliums are also a natural source of quercetin, which in addition to its role in the histamine response may help treat inflammatory issues and promote blood circulation.
Foods with a bit of kick can help clear sinuses. Hot mustard, wasabi, horseradish and similar spices can act as natural decongestants by stimulating the mucosal cilia to help break up congestion. There’s also evidence that capsaicin, the active ingredient in chili peppers, helps to relieve some types of pain.
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR
There’s a link between seasonal and food allergies—it’s called oral allergy syndrome (OAS). When you eat certain foods, your body thinks you’re also consuming pollen. “Over half of people who have seasonal pollen allergies may experience ‘oral allergy’ symptoms that include tingling, itchiness and/or mild swelling of the mouth, lips, tongue and throat after eating certain foods,” says Clifford Bassett, M.D., founder and medical director of Allergy and Asthma Care of New York. Here’s a look at the foods that may cause OAS. (If you really love these foods, cooking them overheat can sometimes destroy the problematic proteins, alleviating the effects. Peeling sometimes helps too.)
• Allergy: Birch Pollen
Watch out for almonds, apples, carrots, celery, cherries, coriander, fennel, hazelnuts, kiwis, peaches, parsley, pears and plums.
• Allergy: Grass Pollen
Watch out for celery, melons, oranges, peaches and tomatoes.
• Allergy: Ragweed
Watch out for bananas, chamomile tea, cucumbers, dandelion greens, echinacea, melons, tomatoes, sunflower seeds and zucchini.