Best Diet for Nasal Allergies

Certain foods and drinks can make allergy symptoms worse -- or better.

From the WebMD Archives

Could what you're eating affect your nasal allergies? It's possible. Here are some tips on which foods may help your nasal allergy symptoms -- and which foods are making them worse.

Foods That May Help

  • Warm fluids. Whether you're sipping tea or eating chicken soup, warm fluids help break up congestion in your airways, making it easier to cough up mucus.
  • Fish. Will a tuna sandwich stop your sneezing? Probably not. But some studies suggest that healthy omega-3 fatty acids -- found in fish like tuna, salmon, and mackerel -- could lower the risk of developing allergies. Other studies have disagreed.
  • Yogurt. Some research shows that healthy bacteria called probiotics -- found in yogurt -- may slightly reduce pollen allergy symptoms in kids. More research needs to be done.
  • Honey. Taking a teaspoon of honey is a common treatment for allergies. Does it really work? Studies haven't shown any benefit. But since it's low-risk, you could see if it helps. Don't give honey to kids under 1 year old.

Foods That Make Symptoms Worse

  • Food allergens. Food allergies -- to peanuts, or strawberries, or anything else -- can cause symptoms like hives or swelling. But in some people, food allergies can cause nasal symptoms, like congestion. If you notice a connection between congestion and certain foods, ask your doctor and get tested.
  • Certain fruits and vegetables. Some fruits and vegetables contain proteins that are very similar to those in certain pollens. So if you're allergic to pollen, a food with similar proteins could set off an allergic reaction in your mouth. It's called oral allergy syndrome.
    For instance, people with ragweed allergy might have symptoms when they eat melons or tomatoes. People with grass allergies may react to peaches or celery. Ask your doctor if any foods are likely to trigger your allergy symptoms.
  • Beer or wine. In some people, drinking alcohol -- especially beer or wine -- can trigger nasal congestion.

WebMD Feature Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD on November 14, 2012



AAFA: "Oral Allergy Syndrome."

ACAAI: "Allergic Rhinitis (Hay Fever)."

Barros, R. Allergy, July 2008.

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center: "Allergies, Respiratory."

Chatzi, L. Thorax, August 2007.

Chatzi, L. Pediatric Allergy and Immunology, September 2007.

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

European Food Information Council: "Food Allergy and Food Intolerance."

Nagel, G. Allergy, December 2003.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database: "Honey."

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

© 2009 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.