If you’re spending much of your autumnal time locked inside with the air conditioning on, hoping to avoid exposure to fall allergens, you’re missing out on one of Mother Nature’s most glorious times of the year. But with all the sneezing, wheezing, blowing, and wiping, it’s easy to see why the season can be a real drag for allergy sufferers.
Short of waiting indoors until the first snowfall arrives, there are a number of steps autumnal allergy sufferers can take to get relief naturally, and none of them involve sleep or lethargy-inducing chemicals. Before you reach for the Big Pharma knockout punch — and they aren’t all that effective anyway — first try a few of these healthy alternatives to enable you to embrace the season with open arms, clearer nasal passages, and dryer eyes.
1. Clear out the cobwebs.
You’ve heard of ‘spring cleaning.’ Well, how about a ‘fall flush?’ And by that we mean a healthy 14-day cleanse, to help flush out allergens, irritants, and toxins from your system and fortify your gut for the season. When you do a healthy cleanse you’ll cut most (if not all) of the most common edible allergens from your diet and keep them out of your system — a major win in the fight against allergies. A cleanse will also help reduce the load on your liver, giving it the support it needs to better handle whatever irritants the season throws at you.
2. Purge the pantry.
You can’t avoid breathing in some airborne irritants, but you can minimize the number of irritants you ingest by altering your diet, which is especially important this time of year. The biggies to avoid: processed foods, genetically-modified foods, gluten, dairy, sugar, corn, and soy. Take it easy on caffeine, alcohol, and, yes, even chocolate. All of these can increase the release of the histamines which set off the inflammatory reactions that make noses and eyes drip. Love tea? Always opt for the organic stuff and double-check what’s in your brew, as some teas, like chamomile, echinacea, and hibiscus, can exacerbate seasonal allergies in some people.
3. Procure the proper produce.
At Be Well, we are all about eating our veggies, but if you have a tendency to get dragged down by seasonal allergies, some of those veggies may not be helping your case. If you’re one of the many people who are sensitive to ragweed, during the high ragweed season, try backing off from a few veggies (and fruits) that can make symptoms worse, including: cucumber, tomatoes, zucchini, watermelon, and cantaloupe. Instead, pile your plate high with foods that alleviate rather than aggravate allergies. Plants that deliver a nice dose of vitamin A, C, and quercetin will go a long way to help take the edge off allergy-driven inflammation. What to add to your allergy-fighting, histamine-taming mix? The big (and colorful) nutritional guns:
· Power Greens: Broccoli, collard greens, kale, celery, parsley, dill, cilantro, and Brussels sprouts
· Autumnal Tones: Think orange, as in turmeric, carrots, and pumpkin
· Wiley Whites: Onions and garlic
· Ravishing Reds & Pretty Purples: Berries and peppers
· Beautiful Browns: Flaxseed or flaxseed oil, walnuts, and chia seeds
4. Build up your belly defenses.
A healthy and balanced belly is your foundation. When your microbiome is being well fed with the fiber and nutrients it flourishes on, the rest of you thrives as well, and your defenses are high. However, if you’ve done a recent course or two of antibiotics, been short-changing yourself on sleep, or have been filling up on processed foods, those defenses will be weakened, leaving you more susceptible to allergens. Your mission: to keep your microbiome — those millions of helpful bacteria in your gut — in balance and working for you. The easiest way to do that is with a daily probiotic, which will help populate your gut with good bacteria and keep the bad guys from gaining the upper hand and undermining your health.
Adding a small side of fermented foods, like kimchi and sauerkraut (or what ever veggie you’d like to ferment) to your plate to feed and seed your gut with helpful bacteria throughout the season is a good idea too.
5. Get steamed.
Try taking a sauna or two every week during allergy season to help relieve sinus congestion, aid relaxation, and boost immunity. If you have access to an infrared sauna, hop in! Several studies have shown that time in the infrared sauna can, just like its steamier incarnation, also improve and relieve allergy symptoms
6. Tame the flame.
Two teas that have been taming symptoms for thousands of years: caffeine-free, immunity-boosting rooibos tea or stinging nettle tea, which acts as a natural antihistamine. And finally, instead of bombing the symptoms with pharmaceuticals, try an easier-on-your-system product like the Be Well Allergy Support. It supports health before and during allergy season with my favorite allergy tamers: Tinofend to strengthen your response to allergens; quercetin to balance histamine-releasing cells; nettle leaf, which has a long use as natural remedy for hay fever; vitamin C to boost immunity; and bicarbonate salts to maintain normal histamine response.