Are you one of those poor people who suffer from hay fever? Well you're not alone, allergies affect 1 in 5 people at some point in their life. I'm one of the lucky ones but I can imagine how awful it is to have streaming eyes and nose and be constantly sneezing when all you want to do is enjoy the summer. It's also the worst time for kids who suffer too, it's the last thing they need when they have exams to sit.
So I want to share a few simple solutions that may help to alleviate some of the symptoms, but first I just want to explain what is going on in the body and why you are experiencing these effects of seasonal allergies.
What is hay fever?
Basically, it's inflammation of the nasal airways and eyes. It happens when things like pollen or dust are breathed in by someone who has a sensitised immune system. In these people the proteins in pollen or dust triggers the production of something called Immunoglobulin E (IgE) which is an allergic antibody.
IgE binds to specialised white blood cells known as basophils and mast cells, causing them to release histamine. It's the histamine that causes the itchy eyes, mucus production and in some people even hives. So usually people reach for remedies such as Benadryl, which is an antihistamine. Now I know when we are suffering it's tempting to reach for anything that will provide some relief but medications always come with the risk of side effects such as drowsiness, headaches and dizziness, also they are usually tackling the symptom. Really what we want to try and do is go to root cause and in the case of allergies this means bolstering your immune system and prevent the symptoms from occurring in the first place.
It is best to start your prevention plan when the clocks change but don't worry you can still do thing to help starting now.
My top tips to help you enjoy summer
Boost the immune system - The following nutrients have shown to help to prevent or reduce allergy symptoms.
Quercetin - A bioflavonoid that has shown to prevent the release of histamine and have anti-allergy effects in studies.
Apple polyphenols have shown to reduce symptoms in two double blind studies.
Grape seed extract, pine bark or green tea extract have also been shown to reduce sneezing and runny noses due to the polyphenols. Grape seed extract also acts as an anti-inflammatory.
B Vitamins and zinc are important for proper immune function.
Taking turmeric can help to reduce inflammation.
Take probiotics - There has been a lot of research looking at the effect of gut bacteria on allergies. A large proportion of our immune system is located in the gut. The immune system is responsible for identifying what is our friend and what is our foe. There is growing evidence that our gut microbiota (the trillions of bacteria that call our gut home) influences that recognition system. When it doesn't do this efficiently you get an immune response.
Other things you can try:
Keep windows in the car and at home shut. In the car keep the air conditioning on as most are fitted with HEPA filters but make sure that you have the filters changed or cleaned regularly.
Shower when you get home to get rid of any pollen that may be caught in your hair.
Wear wrap around sun glasses when outdoors.
When you get home, change your clothing and put them in the wash and avoid drying laundry outside as pollen can get trapped in the fibres of the fabric.
Try nasal irrigation with a saline solution, a neti pot is good for this.
Have the lawn mown regularly before the grass has a chance to flower.
Wash your cats and dogs regularly as they can bring in pollen on their fur.
Place slices of cucumber over the eyes to help with redness and itching.
Apply HayMax around the nose. This is a natural balm that can prevent pollen from getting into the nasal passage.
My recommendation for supplements that will give you a full spectrum of nutrients including quercetin, B vitamins and zinc are the USANA Health Sciences Essential. USANA also has a grape seed extract called Proflavanol and also a probiotic. All of USANA's nutritionals are manufactuered to pharmacutical standards in their FDA approved facility. These are the products I trust my health to and believe me, I am picky. You can find out more about USANA nutritionals here.
¹Egert S, Wolffram S, Bosy-Westphal A, et al. Daily quercetin supplementation dose-dependently increases plasma quercetin concentrations in healthy humans. Journal of Nutrition 2008 Sep;138(9):1615-1621.
²Kawai M, Hirano T, Arimitsu J, et al. Effect of enzymatically modified isoquercitrin, a flavonoid, on symptoms of Japanese cedar pollinosis: a randomized double-blind placebo controlled trial. International Archives of Allergy and Immunology 2009;149(4):359-368.
³Kishi K, Saito M, Saito T, et al. Clinical efficacy of apple polyphenol for treating cedar pollinosis. Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biodiversity 2005 Apr;69(4):829-832.
4Enomoto T, Nagasako-Akazome Y, Kanda T, Ikeda M, Dake Y. Clinical effects of apple polyphenols on persistent allergic rhinitis: A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled parallel arm study. Journal of Investigative Allergology and Clinical Immunology 2006;16(5):283-9.