Eat to Ease Your Allergies

From the WebMD Archives

You can’t cure your nasal allergies with a special diet. But what you eat can make a difference in how you feel. Some foods can make symptoms better, and some can make them worse.

Foods That Help

Fish. Some studies show that omega-3 fatty acids -- found in salmon, tuna, and other fish -- might lower your chances of getting allergies in the first place. So could they help if you already have allergies? While some early evidence is promising, it's too soon to say, says Clifford W. Bassett, MD, an allergist at the NYU School of Medicine.

Fruits and vegetables. One study showed that kids with allergic asthma who ate lots of tomatoes, eggplant, cucumber, green beans, and zucchini had fewer symptoms than kids who didn't. Fruits and veggies high in vitamins C and E -- such as spinach, broccoli, and tomatoes -- might also ease swelling in your airways.

Hot drinks and soup. These fluids can warm up your stomach and your airways. That helps thin mucus in your lungs, making it easier to cough up.

Mediterranean diet. Nuts, healthy oils, fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, and even red wine are good for your heart, and maybe your airways, too. One study showed that this diet helped control severe asthma symptoms.

Yogurt. You might not think that your digestive tract has much to do with your runny nose. While there is conflicting evidence, some experts say that having "good" bacteria or probiotics in your intestines might help allergy symptoms such as runny nose and congestion. Yogurt is a good natural source of probiotics. Buy a brand that has live cultures in it.

Foods to Avoid

Raw fruits and vegetables. Some pollens have proteins that are very similar to those in everyday fruits and vegetables, and your body can mistake the two. If you're allergic to ragweed, for example, you might also have symptoms after eating cantaloupe or watermelon.

Sometimes allergy triggers might catch you by surprise. "Birch and hazelnut have similar proteins," Bassett says. "So people with a birch allergy may get symptoms after drinking a cup of hazelnut coffee in the morning."

Continued

Before you redo your grocery list, know that cooking fruits and veggies often destroys these proteins. That lowers your chance of a reaction.

Spicy food. Spices can trigger the release of histamine. That's the chemical that causes swelling and stuffiness in your nasal passages.

Alcohol. For some people, a glass of alcohol causes swelling and stuffiness in their nose. If you're already congested, that could make your symptoms worse.

If you have nasal allergies, make some changes to your diet and see if it eases your symptoms. Still, Bassett warns that if you're in major discomfort, you shouldn't try to treat it on your own.

"Changing your diet can help, but it's no substitute for treatment with allergy medication," he says. Out-of-control allergies can cause a lot of sickness and misery. Good medical care will get your symptoms under control.

WebMD Feature Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on February 8, 2016

Sources

SOURCES:

AAFA: "Oral Allergy Syndrome."

Allergy and Asthma Network: "Pregnant? Go Mediterranean."

ACAAI: "Allergic Rhinitis (Hay Fever)."

Barros, R. Allergy, July 2008.

Clifford W. Bassett, MD, allergy ambassador, Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America; medical director, Allergy and Asthma Care of New York; clinical assistant professor of medicine, NYU School of Medicine.

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center: “Allergies, Respiratory.”

Chatzi, L. Thorax, August 2007; Pediatric Allergy and Immunology, September 2007.

Norman H. Edelman, MD, chief medical officer, American Lung Association; professor of medicine, Stony Brook University Medical Center, New York.

European Food Information Council: “Food Allergy and Food Intolerance.”

FAAN: “Oral Allergy Syndrome.”

Leo A. Heitlinger MD, chair, section on gastroenterology, hepatology, and nutrition, American Academy of Pediatrics; clinical professor of pediatrics, Temple University, St Luke's School of Medicine, Bethlehem, PA.

Nagel, G. Allergy, December 2003.

National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements: "Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Vitamin E."

Winchester Hospital: "Probiotics for Hay Fever and Asthma in Children."

© 2013 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

Pagination