Auf Wiedersehen, Allergies

When your eyes are watering, your nose is tingling and your mouth just refuses to taste, it’s time to put some sense back in allergy season. The weight and pressure that you feel is the sensation of immune cells being recruited to sinus cavities. This inflammation is a normal process by which your body is trying to protect and heal itself, but it can sometimes get a little carried away. Foods can do a lot to soothe a hyperactive immune system and strengthen it so it doesn’t wig out over benign substances.

Fruits and vegetables are an important component for reducing the inflammation that causes painful and annoying allergy symptoms. Certain fruits and vegetables have proven to be particularly potent in their ability to relieve symptoms and they’re not as exotic as you might think. A good way to start just about every recipe, good old-fashioned garlic and onions, are really treasure troves of vitality. Load up on the garlic for its sulfur-containing compounds that support immunity. Add onions for their quercetin, a natural antihistamine that’s also found in apples, broccoli and quinoa.

Herbs carry so much power in such small doses. Ginger, cinnamon and rosemary can all do wonders for regulating inflammation. Turmeric has been shown to be especially anti-inflammatory and is actually optimized when combined with heat and fat.

Which brings up another place for improvement: fats. They’re not just utilized for energy, they also signal our bodies to either mount an inflammatory or anti-inflammatory response. Omega-3 fatty acids incite the latter and fish is your best source. Consider adding sardines to your pasta sauce or anchovies to your salad dressings if filets are not consumed regularly.

These anti-inflammatory foods are beneficial all the time, but an incessantly runny nose can be especially good motivation for giving your body a fighting chance.

— By Emma Laurie McLeod, Bastyr dietetic intern, and Amy Frasieur, MS, RD, core faculty in the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Science at Bastyr University.