These common food and drink treats could be making your hayfever worse.
Certain boozes, cheeses, sweets and vegetables could all be causing you additional congestion or worse symptoms at the times of year when grass or tree pollen is highest. So, if you’re a seasonal sniffler, it could be important to make a change to your diet, reports The Mirror.
Scientists remain divided on why more Brits have come forward with hay fever symptoms over the past decade. However, with up to one third of the country experiencing these symptoms, dietician Lola Biggs told The Sun that changing what we eat can help.
Read More:Why hay fever is getting worse, how to stop hay fever, and what to do when tablets don’t work
Most alcohols typically contain histamines, the compound which causes hayfever’s puffy eyes and runny noses, but some are worse than others.
In bad news for wine drinkers with the allergy, darker red wines are among the worst as the process of fermentation causes a release of histamines. Additionally, those with a sulphite intolerance could experience a double whammy of wheezing and congestion.
Lola said: “Drinking alcohol can add a burden to the liver, whose job it is to clear histamine from the body. Darker drinks like beer, cider and red wine are higher in histamines which can exacerbate symptoms. I’d switch to clear spirits like vodka and gin or no added sulfite wines.”
2. Blue cheese
The reason why the histamine content in food can have this knock-on effect on the health of hayfever sufferers is that they are part of our body’s immune defense system – causing inflammation and runny nose to help ward off illness, or by over-reacting to pollen.
For this reason, Lola said: “Steer clear of strong, aged cheeses. These are higher in histamine.”
As most people with the allergy can attest, antihistamine pills are the best way to counteract the symptoms caused by this histamine release. Histamines can be found in a number of foods, consuming histamine-rich foods will in turn exaggerate these symptoms.
They even grow on the rind of any aged cheese to help it ripen and protect it from harmful pathogens. Lola said: “Cottage cheese, ricotta and mozzarella are better as they have less histamine levels.”
In a more general sense, most dairy products will make any allergic reaction worse or more severe as consuming them is known to increase the body’s mucus production. Lola said: “Dairy products like cheese and milk along with grains can stimulate the production of mucus in the nose making blocked noses and ears worse.”
Replacing your traditional dairy products has never been easier, you can use an almond or oat milk instead of a cow’s milk in your tea if you are experiencing congestion during the hay fever season. Lola added that coconut milk contains “medium-chain triglycerides and can have an anti-inflammatory effect”.
While not containing histamines, sadly eating high-sugar foods is known to make your body even less tolerant of the histamines causing your seasonal symptoms. Unfortunately, Lola said “sugar and processed foods can also cause the body to produce more histamine”.
“Reduce or cut them out if you can,” she warned. If you can’t, consuming fruits like blueberries with anti-inflammatory properties can be a happy medium for those affected still wanting a sweet treat.
Another histamine-boosting part of many Brits’ diets, coffee can also cause your liver to slow down, become congested, and trigger the onset of even worse symptoms. According to The London Allergy & Immunology Centre, if giving up that morning cup of joe is a stretch too far, switching to decaf should work fine.
Equally, swapping your brew for a cup of chamomile tea will help clear the mucus caused by the hayfever and clear any of your blocked sinuses.
6. Fruits and vegetables
People with hayfever often also report having a similar issue with eating certain foodstuffs, known as oral allergy syndrome. This causes an itchy throat, itchy ear canal, as well as a swollen tongue and lips after eating certain fresh fruits.
This happens when the body mistakes the proteins in these fruits for pollen, which they chemically resemble, causing the body to experience and allergic reaction. The foods which will trigger this depend on which type of pollen allergy an individual has.
Someone with the typical “summer hay fever” or grass pollen allergy could react to the proteins in melons, tomatoes, potatoes, and oranges. While someone with a tree pollen allergy should avoid apples, pears, peaches, carrots, almonds and hazelnuts. Those with the less common ragweed pollen fever should avoid melons, courgettes and bananas.