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Hello Hayfever!

Rebecca Tucker

15 Jul 2019

Itchy, watery eyes? Constantly sneezing? Runny or blocked nose? Itchy throat, nose, mouth and ears? Yes it’s that time of year again. If you’re feeling the effects of this seasonal allergy, you might be surprised to hear that changing what you eat can have a big impact on the severity of your symptoms.

Some foods will make the symptoms of hayfever worse, whilst others are naturally anti-inflammatory so can help reduce symptoms.

Foods containing high levels of histamine can intensify symptoms. These include chocolate (sorry!), tomatoes, aubergines and many fermented foods like vinegar, sauerkraut, yoghurt, miso, soy sauce, and canned fish.

There are also foods that, while they are not high in histamine themselves, are ‘histamine liberators’ and can trigger your cells to release histamine. These include strawberries, pineapple, bananas, citrus fruits and egg whites.

Dairy products stimulate the body to produce more mucus, making blocked noses or ears much worse. Matured cheeses also contain high levels of histamine. And sugar, which causes your body to produce more histamine, can further exacerbate your symptoms.

Foods to add in or increase when you have hayfever

Some foods are anti-histamine foods and disrupt or block histamine receptors, helping to reduce allergy symptoms. These include foods containing:

Quercetin - Onions, garlic, goji berries, asparagus, all berry fruits, apples, kale, okra, peppers, plums and red grapes.

Beta carotene - Sweet potato, carrots, butternut squash, red and yellow peppers, apricots, peas, broccoli, dark leafy greens like kale, and romaine lettuce.

Vitamin C - Blackcurrants, blueberries, peppers, kale, collard leaves, broccoli, kiwis, mango, courgettes, and cauliflower.

Local Honey - This may also be helpful because over time it may help your body become more familiar with the pollen entering your system and reduce the inflammatory response it makes.

What to drink - Drink plenty of water to thin the mucous membranes and reduces that ‘blocked up’ feeling.

Green tea - is packed full of antioxidants and has been proven to block one of the receptors involved in immune responses.

Ginger tea - has been shown to help reduce allergic reactions such as those associated with hayfever. Peppermint tea is worth trying because peppermint contains menthol, a natural decongestant. Nettle tea may help to relieve inflammation of the upper respiratory tract and ease nasal congestion, sneezing and itching.

Anti-inflammatory approach

Hayfever is an inflammatory condition and may be further helped by including other types of food that calm the inflammatory response. Top of the list are foods containing omega 3 fatty acids.These include all types of oily fish (like salmon, trout, sardines, halibut and cod) as well as flaxseed and walnuts.

Coconut oil is another anti-inflammatory oil and can be used in cooking and baking or added to smoothies.

As well as adding flavour to your food, herbs like parsley, sage, thyme, oregano and basil have anti-inflammatory properties as do many spices, including turmeric, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, fennel and nutmeg.

Rebecca is a Registered Nutritional Therapist practising at the Natural Healthcare Centre in Burton. For more information visit

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