From probiotics and fiber to anti-pollen kits, when it comes to preventing the worst of your allergies this summer, experts say preparation is key.
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The first warm days of the year may bring blooms, birdsong, sunshine and flowers, but there is a downside – hay fever. Or seasonal allergic rhinitis, to describe it medically.
It’s that dreaded reaction to pollen from grass, trees and some weeds that so many of us know all too well during the early spring and summer months.
Birch pollen appears as early as the end of February and grass pollen follows from mid-May to the end of August.
According to the charity Allergy UK, 25% of adults in the UK suffer from hay fever, which causes symptoms such as itchy eyes and throat, sneezing, a stuffy or runny nose, tearing, red eyes, etc headache.
But today the immunologist Dr. Jenna Macciochi assumes that those affected will not sneeze, itch or have hay fever if they follow her advice. There’s no cure, but making lifestyle changes before hay fever season even starts will transform your summer for the better.
Feast on fiber
Improving gut health by eating high-fiber foods like beans, legumes, and whole grains can improve the body’s response to pollen. Studies suggest that when gut microbes break down fiber, they produce short-chain fatty acids that can regulate the functioning of “mast cells.” These are the cells that release histamine, the chemical that causes hay fever symptoms.
“Allergies are a sign of inflammation and generalized dysregulation of the immune system,” explains Dr. Macciochi in her book Blueprint for Strong Immunity (£14.99, Yellow Kite). “Ensuring good gut health and following an anti-inflammatory dietary pattern are fundamental.”
She advises cutting back on inflammatory baked goods, cakes, cookies, fast food, sweet treats and fizzy drinks, and suggests eating 30 different plant-based foods a week to ensure you’re hitting the recommended minimum fiber intake of 30g per day .
An apple a day
It appears that consuming a powerful antioxidant found in apples, onions, capers, peppers, leafy greens and berries may improve hay fever symptoms. Quercetin, which can prevent mast cells from releasing histamine, is “regarded as one of the best food-based anti-allergy drugs,” says Dr. Macciochi.
She says a typical Western diet provides up to 30mg of quercetin per day, but we can increase it by eating cherries, spring onions, tomatoes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus and black tea. It can also be taken as a supplement.
“Its antiallergic effects are typically seen at doses of 1,000 mg twice a day,” she says.
Waiting until your hay fever symptoms set in before taking medication may be too late, warns allergy consultant Dr. Adrian Morris, the medical director of the Surrey Allergy Clinic.
“Keep an eye on pollen counts and take an antihistamine once a day if they start to rise,” he says.
“The evidence suggests that if you take it daily during the season, you’ll do much better and need less medication. So don’t wait until you’re symptomatic.
“If you miss that early window, you could end up chasing the symptoms.”
He recommends a number of non-sedating antihistamines, including levocetirizine, desloratadine, and fexofenadine, available by prescription.
filter your nose
Buying the right equipment now will make the worst of summer days more bearable. First on your shopping list? A nasal filter. This sits over the openings of both nostrils and forms a physical barrier between your body and the pollen grains.
Nasal filters are available from online pharmacies and amazon.
“Wraparound sunglasses also reduce the amount of pollen that gets into your eyes,” says Dr. Morris. “When you get home, shower and wash your hair, otherwise you’ll go to bed with pollen grains on your skin and hair.”
Heavy on the local honey
If you live in an area that produces honey, it’s time to stock up.
“Some people swear by a teaspoon of local honey a day,” says Dr. Morris. “Honey has pollen and you desensitize yourself by ingesting small amounts.
“Start a few months before the season starts.”
But dr Morris adds, “There’s no scientific evidence that it works, but it doesn’t hurt.”
Go potty for pineapple
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dr Macciochi says, “Bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapple, has been shown in multiple human clinical trials to provide relief from hay fever or sinusitis by acting as a natural antihistamine, anti-inflammatory, and decongestant.”
Bromelain is also believed to enhance the beneficial effects of quercetin by enhancing its absorption.
Start taking the right “good” bacteria now to give your body its best chance against pollen in a month’s time.
“There is some interesting research out there about the preventative and therapeutic roles that probiotics can play,” says Dr. Macciochi.
“Supporting gut health is a top priority when treating histamine intolerance. Restoring the balance of the gut microflora and improving gut integrity is an important step in that.” Keep an eye out for specific strains when you
Buy a bottle of probiotic supplements, she says.
“The following have been shown to have immune-regulating properties that may help prevent and treat allergies: Lactobacillus paracasei LP-33, Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001.42, and Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM.”
Quite a lot in the mouth, but worth knowing in the fight against hay fever.
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https://www.mirror.co.uk/lifestyle/health/hay-fever-sufferers-can-beat-26618980 Hay fever sufferers can conquer the miserable symptoms by following seven important tips