Spring is busting out all over, and that means so are the trees, flowers, and allergens. Lovely as it is to have the dark days of winter behind us, for those who suffer with allergies, these beautiful beginning-of-spring days can be an annual challenge. Rather than just suffering and sneezing your way through another spring, add a few (or all) of the following start-today allergy-fighting tips to your day and truly enjoy the season. Here’s our sunup to sundown guide to keeping allergens out of every corner of your life:
1) Give Your Gut a Spring Cleaning
A cleanse early in the spring is a great way to help strengthen your immune system for the onslaught to come. A springtime gut cleaning will eliminate the majority of common dietary allergens—like sugar, gluten, and dairy—that can weaken your system. You’ll be better able to take what blows your way.
2) Rise, Shine—and Meditate
Start your day with some deep, calming breaths and a few minutes of meditation to help tame stress levels, which, when they get too high, can aggravate existing allergies by boosting histamine levels in the bloodstream.
3) Give Your Nose a Shower
Few of us would forget our morning shower, but a lot of us wouldn’t think to rinse our noses. Nasal passages are great at catching pollen and allergens, so it’s up to you to clear out the gunk with a sterile (non-shower) rinse. To wash the irritants away, use a traditional neti pot or saline solution spray—and breathe easier almost instantly.
4) Have a Low-allergen Breakfast
Don’t start the day with a load of allergens like wheat, dairy, and sugar. Instead, have a nutrient-dense meal to fortify your system with gut-supportive prebiotic fiber and histamine-inhibiting vitamins A and C. Try one of these healthy day-starters from my wife, Janice’s repertoire: Vanilla Matcha Green Tea Breakfast Smoothie Bowl or, my all-time favorite, this Chocolate Whey Protein Smoothie Recipe.
5) Pop Some Good-for-you Pills
When it comes to fighting off allergies, the more support you’ve got the better, which is why I do recommend supplements for the sneezing season. Among my drug-free favorites are bioflavonoids, vitamin C, probiotics, and Be Well’s Natural Allergy Support, our synergistic blend of Tinofend, nettle leaf, quercetin, and vitamin C.
6) Spring-clean Your Wheels
It’s an easy one to overlook, and most of us do, but if you are an allergy sufferer who spends a lot of time in the car, you’d be wise to put “hange the cabin air filter” on your annual spring-cleaning list. A fresh, clean filter switcheroo will help improve the air quality in your car and keep pollen, dust, and mold spores out.
7) Drive a Clean Machine
Driving to the office or the commuter parking lot? Keep the windows rolled up, particularly in the morning when many plants and grasses release waves of pollen. Also make sure the windows and weather stripping are in good shape to help seal allergens out of the car. If you’re using the AC, hit the recirculate setting to suck less pollen-laced air into your car.
8) Breathe Easier at the Office
The modern-day office is a treasure trove of allergens. There’s pollen blowing in from the great outdoors and being tracked in by your co-workers, office equipment spewing pollutants, and, in pet-friendly workspaces, airborne pet dander. Add to that sub-par filtration systems, and your allergies may flourish virtually year round. To upgrade office air quality quickly and inexpensively, ask the office or building manager to switch to high-efficiency air filters. Another option is to invest in a desktop air-filtration system to help improve the air quality in the immediate vicinity of your desk.
9) Trade Your Midmorning Coffee for Green Tea
When you hit the office, instead of that second cup of joe, have a cup of green tea (preferably organic). In addition to delivering a nice dose of antioxidants and a gentler-than-coffee stimulant effect, the unique compounds in green tea may also offer relief for some allergy sufferers, according to a Japanese study.
10) Eat Your Antihistamines
At lunchtime and dinner, dig into foods that contain plenty of quercetin, a plant flavonoid that can help curb the release of those pesky histamines that make eyes and noses run. Apples, green peppers, broccoli, raw red onions, and garlic are good sources, and if you need an additional boost, quercetin can also be taken in supplement form.
11) Make Green Drinks Your Midafternoon Pick-me-up
Hit the green drinks—as in the kind you blend yourself, not the sugary juice bar or premade stuff. A scoop of greens powder mixed with water will supply allergy-taming, anti-inflammatory phytonutrients and immune-boosting beta-carotene and lutein, as well as plenty of crash-free energy.
12) Indulge in a Post-workout Sauna
If your gym has a sauna, use it! Doing this not only boosts your immune system and benefits your heart but, according to a recent study, can also offer allergy sufferers improved lung capacity, reduced congestion, and symptom relief.
13) Get a (Nonpharmaceutical) Jab
For many of my patients who wish to avoid drug treatment, I use acupuncture, which can be an extremely helpful, healthy, and side-effect-free alternative. Acupuncture’s potential to relieve allergy symptoms was highlighted in a recent study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, where participants receiving acupuncture treatments reported symptom relief comparable to that of traditional drug-based therapies.
14) Chow Down on Anti-inflammatory Foods
Anti-inflammatory foods—which you should be eating year-round, not just when you’re sneezing—will also help tame allergies, so dig in. Among the goodies that should be on your plate: immune-boosting leafy greens like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard; antioxidant-rich blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries; and inflammation-taming omega-3s from fatty fish like wild-caught salmon, mackerel, tuna, and herring.
15) Honey, I’m Home!
The first thing you should do when you get home at the end of the day is leave your shoes by the front door and peel off your clothes. Toss them in the hamper and change into your indoor clothes so you don’t track allergens through the house and all over the furniture. Next, hit the shower and wash your hair to rinse off any allergens that may have accumulated on you during the day.
16) Woof! He’s Home!
Our beloved four-legged family members spend a fair amount of time outside, collecting pollen in their fur—and then bringing it indoors when playtime is over. In the springtime, when the pollen is in full force, don’t forget to hose Fido down a bit more frequently to keep allergens at bay.
17) Become a Springtime Teetotaler
Studies have found that alcohol can trigger asthma and hay fever symptoms, or make the ones you have even worse. Histamines and sulfites found in wine and beer are thought to be the likely culprits, and, for reasons unknown, women seem to get hit with roughly twice as many symptoms as men, so the less alcohol you drink the better.
18) Skip the Sleepy-time Chamomile Tea
Avoid teas in the ragweed family as they can make allergies worse. Lay off teas containing chamomile, milk thistle, wormwood, goldenseal, echinacea, and/or dandelion. If you need a relaxing cup of something in the evening, try hot water with lemon and a little stevia or honey, or go with caffeine-free, quercetin-rich, unfermented rooibos tea, an ancient allergy-fighter.
19) Sleep Tight, and Turn on the AC
When it’s time to turn in for the night, keep windows closed during heavy pollen season. Remember, the stuff collects on curtains and window shades, so wash them frequently. If summer heat hasn’t kicked in yet and there’s no need to cool the bedroom, just run your AC on a recirculate, fan, or filter-only setting to help keep pollen out.
Here’s to a symptom-free spring!