andrew weil's allergy advice

I have been reading extensively about issues regarding allergy treatments lately. An especially well written and resourceful article was one by Dr. Andrew Weil in the Huffington Post on 15th June. In the article, Dr. Weil lists a number of steps that can be taken to prevent and alleviate the symptoms of hay fever without the use of conventional allergy treatments such as antihistamines. Dr. Andrew Weil outlines many of the points I have covered in my previous post on hay fever, such as practicing allergen avoidance, dust-proofing your home and filtering the air by investing in an effective allergy air purifier.

What I found particularly interesting, however, was Dr. Weil’s well-written account about diet and the impact that it can have on hay fever and allergies in general. He writes that: “the vigilance of the immune system is influenced heavily by the consumption of pro-inflammatory or anti-inflammatory fats.” He points out that milk and milk products should be eliminated from our diet as the protein in cow’s milk can irritate the immune system and keep it in a state of over-reactivity.

Inspired by Dr. Weil's account of how diet can reduce our hay fever and other allergy symptoms, I then compiled the following list from other articles and books I studied:

Foods to increase:

  • Vitamin C and beta-carotene found in berries, dark green vegetables and numerous fruits contain the main antioxidant found in our respiratory passage and therefore these foods can offer relief from hay-fever symptoms by having a possible antihistamine and anti-inflammatory effect.
  • Essential fatty acids: Foods rich in Omega-3 oil such as oily fish, nuts, seeds and their oils are recommended for fighting allergy symptoms. They contain prostaglandins, hormone-like chemicals with anti-inflammatory properties. As nuts are a fairly common allergen, please make sure you are not allergic to them first!
  • Chamomile, ginger and peppermint can also have an antihistamine effect and offer relief from allergy symptoms - though to a lesser degree.
  • Garlic and onions, kale and broccoli are sources of quercetin, another powerful anti-inflammatory that can reduce allergic symptoms. Garlic and onions also boost the immune system by increasing the production of white blood cells, which deal with allergic reactions. Quercetin can also be found in blue-green algae, spirulina, chlorella and kelp.
  • Bromelain in pineapple and nuts is also useful in boosting the anti-inflammatory prostaglandins. It may, however, be better in supplement form as these foods are fairly common allergens.
  • Consider taking a tablespoonful of local honey every day starting a few months before the pollen season starts - this may act as a form of oral desensitisation (the honey will have been contaminated with pollen).

Foods to avoid:

As well as dairy suggested by Dr. Andrew Weil, wheat and citrus fruit have also been flagged up as increasing histamine production and thus should be avoided by allergy sufferers. Wheat and dairy also increase mucus production, which makes the symptoms of hay fever worse.

Saturated fats found in red meat, dairy and sugary foods contain pro-inflammatory substances that can aggravate allergy symptoms and increase mucous production as well.

Ref:

  • Dr Andrew Weil, Huffington Post, 15th of June
  • Times on Line
  • The Food Doctor Blog
  • Diet.co.uk