Seasonal allergies can leave you in misery. An itchy nose, watery eyes, constant congestion and runniness, and increased inflammation can make you feel like you have a mild cold for months. Could the foods you eat compound your suffering?
They might. Everything in your body exists in a delicate balance called homeostasis. Allergies occur when your body detects an “invader” and launches an exaggerated immune system response to a generally harmless foreign substance. Certain items you ingest through your diet can increase the strength of this response and the intensity of your symptoms.
What should you avoid noshing on when the pollen counts get too high? Here are five foods that can worsen seasonal allergies.
1. Dairy Products
Dairy products are a double whammy for allergies. They increase the production of arachidonic acids, compounds that increase leukotrienes. These inflammatory molecules trigger your bronchial tubes to contract, inhibiting airflow. As a result, you find it harder to breathe.
Furthermore, dairy products contain lactose, which many people struggle to digest. Your body is already on high alert during allergy season, and introducing another substance it has difficulty processing can increase your immune system’s exaggerated response.
As a result, you may experience symptoms beyond a runny nose and watery eyes. Excess mucus can contribute to swallowing disorders that already impact approximately 18 million patients in the U.S. each year. You could eat less, encouraging malnutrition that only worsens your symptoms, as your body lacks the requisite building blocks to rebalance your system.
2. Fermented Foods
Fermented foods are in vogue. Like dairy, they offer multiple health benefits, even as they cause misery for those with seasonal allergies. For example, eating these foods after a course of antibiotics can help rebuild your intestinal microbiome, replenishing the beneficial bacteria you need for digestion.
However, these healthy foods are also high in histamines, chemicals that increase inflammation, telling your immune system to launch an attack.
The problem with histamines is they set up shop at receptor sites in your body, causing similar symptoms regardless of how and where the offending substances enter your body. Therefore, if you already have histamines docked in receptors in your nose, you’ll get stuffy or runny even if you eat the flowers instead of smelling them.
You’ve probably noticed that “histamine” is at the root of “antihistamine,” a group of drugs used to treat seasonal allergies. You might reduce your reliance on antihistamines by avoiding fermented foods made from known allergens, such as soy sauce.
3. Certain Fruits And Vegetables
The science of histamine receptor docks also explains why some normally healthy fruits and vegetables can worsen seasonal allergy symptoms. Many contain similar chemical profiles to that found in pollen, and introducing them into the body causes an exaggerated reaction. Pay attention if you start feeling miserable after your normally healthy green smoothie — you might have to adjust the ingredients.
Common fruits and vegetables that may exacerbate seasonal allergies include:
- Sunflower seeds
Now onto the less healthy stuff on this list of foods that can worsen seasonal allergies. You probably know that too much sugar isn’t good for you. It absorbs quickly, leading to wide glucose spikes that your body struggles to manage, worsening your Type 2 diabetes risks.
These wide changes in blood glucose levels increase inflammation. You already have too much of this in your body if you have seasonal allergies — indulging in sweets like candy and cookies only adds fuel to the fire. Do your total health a favor by steering clear and consuming sugary foods only in moderation, if at all.
5. Red Wine
Red wine is fermented and high in histamines. Consider switching to nonalcoholic grape juice if you’re drinking it to lower your heart disease risk. Although you get some antioxidants with each glass, alcohol also spikes your blood pressure, undoing any potential benefits to your ticker.
Additionally, some red wines can contain other allergy triggers. Some people are sensitive to the tannins, and beverages like sangria could contain other fruits that increase your symptoms.
Foods That Can Worsen Seasonal Allergies
Seasonal allergies can make you miserable. The symptoms are uncomfortable, and your chosen foods can make them worse.
Avoid the five foods above that can worsen seasonal allergies when the pollen count gets too high. You’ll decrease your symptoms and get back to feeling better faster.