Nutrition’s Role in Allergies: Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables

We often think about what to avoid when it comes to allergies, but are there certain things we can eat that can help us with our allergy symptoms? Nutrition actually plays a large part in our body’s coping with allergy symptoms. It doesn’t just have to be the antihistamines that we ingest to alleviate symptoms, but there are a number of foods and vitamins that experts say may help us through the season.

As we know, an allergic reaction is the body’s way of fighting something that it thinks is a threat but which really isn’t. There are some alternative methods of reprogramming the body to accept the allergen as nonthreatening, and some experts believe we can reprogram the body by rethinking our diets.

Dr. Andrew Weil, a Harvard medical school graduate and writer for Yahoo! Health Ask the Expert, states that though there are some supplements on the market for this very purpose, the best thing to do is to follow an anti-inflammatory diet. This would be a diet heavy on organic fruits and vegetables and lots and lots of water. Weil also recommends avoiding things like processed foods (fried and fast food especially), partially hydrogenated oils, white sugar and white flour.

Vitamin C is often touted as a great inhibitor to allergies. While choosing your fruits and vegetables, it may be a good idea to choose those heavy in Vitamin C. Of course we think of oranges, lemons and grapefruits, but don’t forget kiwis, mangos, guavas and raspberries which are also loaded with Vitamin C. Remember, too, that your body will absorb vitamins much faster through food than vitamin supplements. So, though it may be much easier to chew up a couple of Vitamin C tablets, your body is reaping much more benefit if you eat the fruit. Experts also believe the anti-oxidants in apples help promote healthy lung function, great for people with asthma.

Garlic is also believed by some to help out in the fight against allergies. Unlike Vitamin C and fruit, however, the anti-allergy benefits of garlic are better absorbed into the body if taken in supplement pill form than in natural form. That way you may avoid always smelling like garlic, too! On a warning note, there are some people who actually have severe food allergies to garlic, so if this is you, avoid it of course.

Foods rich in beta-carotene and Vitamin A help the body balances its immunity and reduce inflammation therefore may be helpful in reducing allergy symptoms. You can find these in fruits and vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, spinach, squash, peaches, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe and apricots. Usually the darker the color, the higher the beta-carotene concentration is. Some of these foods, like carrots, are better absorbed into the body if they are gently cooked for a few minutes.

Water makes a lot of sense, I think, in allergy relief. The more water you drink, the more toxins (and allergens, too, perhaps?) are released from your body. Water not only keeps you clean on the outside, but on the inside, too. The more hydrated you remain, the better all your systems can function.

So if you eat a few carrots, some slices of mango and an apple a day are you going to be allergy free? If you drink bottles and bottles of water are your symptoms going to disappear? Maybe not, but they may very well subside and become easier to manage. If nothing else, you’ll feel better all around by cutting out the bad and adding more of the good to your diet.

– Heather Legg


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