For many people, the start of spring is also the beginning of hay fever. Bee pollen fly through the air and cause allergic reactions. Significant signs are itchy eyes, frequent sneezing, itchy nose or runny nose. Pollen allergy should then pay close attention to their diet, because this can aggravate the symptoms - but also relieve.
Cross allergies with foods
People who suffer from hay fever often do not tolerate certain foods. The reason for this are so-called cross-allergies. These arise because the allergy-causing proteins (allergens) of pollen and food can be similar in their structure.
Pollen allergy sufferers should therefore be wary of certain foods. However, when these are well tolerated, regular use helps maintain tolerance to the allergens.
Particularly common are the following cross-allergies:
- Birch pollen: stone and pome fruit (like apples, plums and cherries), nuts and soy
- Grass pollen: cereal products and legumes (such as soy and peanuts)
- Herb pollen, especially mugwort: carrots, celery, chamomile, paprika, tomatoes, artichokes, cucumbers, garlic and various spices
Low-histamine diet in hay fever
Hay fever is an overreaction of the immune system to the proteins contained in pollen. As a result of the defense reaction, the body releases histamine, which ultimately triggers the discomfort.
Therefore, a low-histamine diet is recommended, which does not increase the content of the messenger in the body additionally.
For example, yeast-containing finished products, aged cheeses, legumes, tomatoes, wheat products, chocolates, vinegar, preserved seafood and smoked meats should be consumed only moderately.
Vitamins and minerals against hay fever
Some vitamins and minerals are able to relieve the symptoms of hay fever. They stabilize the mucous membranes, prevent the release of histamine into the bloodstream, bind excess histamine in the body or promote its degradation.
Important substances in the diet to relieve hay fever are:
- Vitamin B6 (in oatmeal and wholegrain rice)
- Vitamin C (in peppers, oranges and cabbage)
- Magnesium (in wheat bran, sunflower seeds and walnuts)
- Calcium (in yoghurt, camembert and soy)
- Selenium (in sesame, Brazil nuts and coconut)
- Manganese (in oatmeal, wheat bran, rice and hazelnuts)
- Zinc (in oysters, beef, lentils and wholemeal bread)
Antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids
Also good against hay fever are foods with anti-inflammatory antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. Rich in these substances is, for example, the Mediterranean cuisine, in which a lot of fresh fruit, vegetables, fish and olive oil are consumed.
Moisten mucous membranes
Sufficient drinking is important for the immune system. In addition, moisturized mucous membranes form a stronger barrier against pollen. Coffee is usually well tolerated in small quantities.
On the other hand, alcohol should be better avoided by pollen allergy sufferers because it releases existing histamine in the body and can aggravate the symptoms.
Black tea is also not recommended due to its high histamine content in hay fever. Caution is advised with grapefruit juice: it may lead to interactions with antihistamines.
Nutrition tips for hay fever
Generally recommended is a vitamin-rich, fresh and varied diet. Sugar, fish, meat, eggs and milk should be enjoyed only moderately.
The following foods are ideal for alleviating hay fever:
- fresh fruit
- Broccoli and broccoli sprouts
- green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach and chard (best with olive or linseed oil)
- Elderberry, sea buckthorn and black currants, as well as acerola cherries
- Parsley and thyme
- Onions and apples contain the substance quercetin, which has a similar effect to antihistamines
- Sunflower seeds, sesame and flaxseed
Some sufferers report alleviating their hay fever after switching to basic, vegetarian or vegan diets. These diets score with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
However, some fruits and vegetables may cause aggravation due to their histamine content or by cross-allergies.
Success has also been achieved with traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). This recommends, among other things, the renunciation of raw food, wheat and dairy products.
A complete waiver of certain foods should always be discussed in advance with a doctor. Often a light diet change is enough to get a grip on hay fever.