6 Foods To Help Fight Seasonal Nasal Congestion

Seasonal nasal congestion can make coming out of winter’s hibernation into spring’s high pollen counts more of a bear than a joy. While various medications can ease the discomfort, they often come with side effects like tiredness that require an unwanted tradeoff. Fortunately, you can use holistic means like modifying your diet for relief. Here are six foods that help fight seasonal nasal congestion.

What Causes Seasonal Nasal Congestion?

Seasonal nasal congestion results when pollen and other allergens activate cells called mast cells and basophils. Those cells then produce histamine — a substance that spurs allergic reactions but also influences other bodily processes, such as emotions, memory, learning and sleep-wake cycles. Antihistamines can make you drowsy by adjusting levels of these chemicals.

Histamines and Food 

Certain foods can also raise your histamine levels. When you combine that load with those produced by seasonal allergens, your symptoms may worsen from a buildup of this substance in your body, a condition known as histamine intolerance. Some of the top histamine-producing foods include:

  • Alcohol
  • Cheese
  • Sauerkraut
  • Nightshade vegetables
  • Nuts and peanuts
  • Licorice
  • Chocolate
  • Pork
  • Egg white
  • Food additives

Some of these foods — like alcohol — provide no nutritional perks and are best avoided altogether, but others like fermented vegetables and nuts have impressive health benefits. Keep in mind that these substances don’t cause the same reactivity in everyone, so experiment with an elimination diet approach to identify triggers specific to you.

6 Foods To Fight Seasonal Allergies

Conversely, increasing your intake of certain foods may increase your body’s ability to manage histamine levels and reduce symptoms. Here are six foods that may fight seasonal nasal congestion associated with allergies.

1. Bee Pollen and Honey 

Bee pollen and local honey have long been a folk remedy for seasonal allergies, but researching how well it works reveals conflicting answers. Dr. Timothy Wong — board-certified family doctor and medical advisor for JustAnswer — confirms that the answer to whether they help is complicated and influenced by financial factors. Drugs that cost billions in research and development receive more study funding than natural substances anyone can experiment with.

This cure operates on the principle that limited exposure to allergens results in your body developing a tolerance to them. It’s similar to how vaccines work, and nowhere can you find a richer blend of potential allergens than bee pollen and honey. For maximum effectiveness, get honey from local beekeepers whose critters feed on the same substances stuffing up your nose.

2. Red Bell and Spicy Chili Peppers 

You might know eating hot peppers makes your nose run, but that’s not the only reason to reach for the salsa when allergies strike. Red bell peppers contain three times the vitamin C of an orange and this antioxidant could reduce some of the inflammation that makes breathing more difficult.

Spicy peppers contain capsaicin — another anti-inflammatory substance. It’s also what provides your salsa’s kick.

3. Grapefruit and Other Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits are another excellent source of vitamin C. One recent meta-analysis suggests this antioxidant can mediate respiratory diseases like allergies. Their high water content makes them ideal for staying hydrated as the weather warms, too — for example, a grapefruit is 88% H2O.

4. Fatty Fish 

Fatty fish are your best source of omega-3 fatty acids, which is a type of necessary fat many Americans don’t get enough of. Omega-3 comes in three varieties — AHA, EPA and DHA. Only seafood contains naturally occurring EPA and DHA, and the best sources are trout, salmon and mackerel. Sufficient omega-3 intake has an anti-inflammatory effect, helping reduce nasal swelling.

5. Colorful Fruits and Vegetables 

Did you know the colors of various fruits and vegetables correspond to their nutrient profiles? Mixing it up is your best bet for getting all the nutrition you need for your body’s systems to function at their peak. Strive to include at least three hues on your plate at each meal.

6. Turmeric and Ginger 

Turmeric and ginger receive significant praise in Ayurvedic medicine for their healing properties. Folks in the West also benefit from their potent anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory powers.

Fortunately, it’s a snap to get more of these substances in your diet, even if you dislike curries. Add a bit of fresh ground root to your morning coffee or tea — it adds a light chai flavor with an anti-inflammatory punch to combat nasal congestion from seasonal allergies.

Try These Foods For Nasal Congestion And Seasonal Allergies

Seasonal allergies can leave you miserable with nasal congestion. The wrong diet adds fuel to the fire by increasing swelling, but the right foods can minimize your discomfort by keeping your body’s histamine levels from reaching critical mass.

Consider adding the six foods above for nasal congestion to your diet this allergy season. Cut back on others that increase histamines and breathe more comfortably any time of year.

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