Is Diet Affecting your Seasonal Allergies?
Seasonal allergies are exactly as they sound. Seasonal. Some people experience their worst allergic symptoms at the first sign of spring, others in the later summer months, while an unfortunate few suffer throughout the entire season!
It depends on what type of allergen is at its peak, and whether your body is sensitive to it or not.
Ontario’s 4 Allergy Seasons
|Time of Year||Cause of Allergies|
|April – May||Tree Pollen|
|June – July||Grass Pollen|
|July – August||Mould Spores|
|August – October||Ragweed Pollen|
Why do I get seasonal allergies?
Although pollen or mould may be the culprit that sets off the allergic reaction, the true cause of your sneezing, watery eyes, and itchy throat relates back to an overly sensitive immune system. The underlying issue is typically an unhealthy gut lining that allows undigested food particles to enter directly into the circulatory system rather than being sent to the liver for metabolism. These particles are not recognized by the immune system, and are seen as foreign invaders that warrant an inflammatory response to get rid of them. Because 80% of the immune system lives around the gut, these constant ‘threats’ puts the body on edge and causes it to be hyper reactive to any type of foreign particle, such as pollen or mould.
So, instead of sending out a few ‘reinforcements’ when a grass, ragweed, or tree pollen enters our respiratory system, an overly sensitive immune system unnecessarily sends out a whole army, and our body does everything it can to flush it out!
Histamines…best to avoid!
During peak allergy season (when an immune system is already on edge), it is best keep the body’s histamine levels as low as possible, as histamine is the key chemical messenger that signals the brain to activate the immune system’s inflammatory response.
Believe it or not, certain foods (even healthy fruits and vegetables!) should be avoided during allergy season, as they are either:
- naturally rich in histamines
- cause the release of histamine
- block the enzyme responsible for the breakdown of histamine
A short list of Foods to avoid during allergy season:
Fermented foods & beverages, such as sauerkraut, vinegar, kefir, yogurt, and kombucha produce histamines during the fermentation process. Avoid these foods and supplement with good quality Probiotics from our dispensary to maintain healthy gut flora.
Nuts contain histamines, and conventional peanuts may also contain a small amount of mould. Choose seeds such as pumpkin, sunflower, and sesame instead.
Cacao and all chocolate based products increase histamine levels in our body. Use carob as an alternative.
Wheat germ is a histamine releasing food. Choose rice, buckwheat, or quinoa substitutes for bread, pasta, and flour.
Alcohol, black tea, and green tea suppress the enzyme responsible for breaking down histamine. Most decaffeinated herbal teas are fine and can also have a delicious fruity flavour. Chill them in the fridge for a refreshing summer drink.
Eggplant, avocado, spinach, tomato, and citrus fruits are all naturally high in histamines.
It starts with your gut
As mentioned, an overly sensitive immune system typically starts with an unhealthy gut lining. That being said, we should avoid foods and lifestyle choices that compromise our digestive system, such as excessive alcohol, chronic stress, and a diet high in processed foods.
Come speak to one of the nutritionists at The Big Carrot’s Customer Service Desk for suggestions on how to keep your gut healthy.
Alex Comrie, B.Comm, Registered Holistic Nutritionist (R.H.N.)
Photo by Coley Christine on Unsplash