As the seasons change, welcome relief from the heat, for many, also means the onset of allergies (cue sniffles and watery eyes). Eating the right foods, however, may allow you to sail through the coming months relatively free of symptoms. “What you eat has the potential to not only soothe allergy symptoms, but also prevent allergic reactions from happening in the first place,” says dietitian Jennifer McDaniel. She suggests adding these delicious picks to your allergy treatment plan to start enjoying the outdoors again.
When you get a whiff of an allergen like pollen, your immune system releases histamines, inflammatory compounds that trigger allergic reactions, such as itching and swelling. Raw onions, particularly the red variety, are high in quercetin, a flavonoid (a type of plant compound) that helps stop this reaction. “Flavonoids such as quercetin actually block histamines in the body,” says Dr Taz Bhatia, a physician and integrative health expert. Completely worth the onion breath! Try this Toss ½ red onion, sliced, with 1 avocado, diced, 1 tomato, chopped, and 1 cucumber, sliced. Drizzle the salad with olive oil and lemon juice for a refreshing bite.
This autumn soup ingredient is an excellent source of vitamin A, which, when obtained from food, can help prevent allergic responses. “Eating vitamin A along with fibre, also found in pumpkin, boosts a part of our immune system called the dendritic cells,” Jennifer says. “These cells regulate how your body responds to allergens.” Try this For a tasty weekend breakfast, fold ½ cup grated butternut pumpkin and ¼ cup frozen corn into 2 whisked eggs, then pan-fry for light and fluffy fritters. Top with a quarter of an avocado and 20g crumbled fetta cheese.
PLAIN GREEK YOGHURT
Yoghurt is the food that keeps on giving. A review of 20 studies found that probiotics – Greek yoghurt has plenty of them – were linked to improvements in common allergy symptoms like sneezing. “The specific probiotic strains found in yoghurt are particularly effective in safeguarding the immune system,” Jennifer says. These beneficial bacteria can keep toxins and bad bacteria from entering the bloodstream by protecting the lining of the gut. As a result, your immune system is less likely to turn on the waterworks when exposed to an allergen.
Drizzle yoghurt onto pumpkin soup instead of cream. At breakfast, mix it with fresh fruit and cereal, and at dinner, blend it with chopped mint and drizzle onto meat dishes as a healthy alternative to tomato sauce.
It doesn’t just keep vampires away! Garlic contains compounds that may help thin mucus and zap inflammation so you feel less stuffy. It also appears to have antihistamine properties, Dr Bhatia says. A study in the International Journal of Food Science & Technology found that garlic may inhibit the release of an enzyme that is associated with allergic reactions.
Coat whole heads of garlic in olive oil, then roast to take midweek dinners from zero to hero. Add roasted garlic to mashed potato, use as a topping on homemade pizza, or blitz through your favourite soup.