When T.S. Eliot wrote that “April is the cruellest month,” he must have been talking about allergies.
Just as the sun finally peeks out to warm our chilled bones, the air fills with pollen, dust, and a devil’s brew of allergens designed to make those of us who suffer from seasonal allergies want to go back to bed for a few months.
You can stuff pills down your gullet. You can walk around in a gas mask. But why do that when you can make a few simple changes to your diet for an allergy-free season? This summer, eat these foods to enjoy the sunshine without choking and dripping and being generally miserable.
1. Local Honey
Angels are real, and they are called bees. Not only do our buzzing buddies pollinate our crops for us, free of charge, they manufacture the world’s finest defense against seasonal allergies (maybe—more on that later).
The reasoning is pretty tidy. Local honey is made from local pollen. Local pollen is a serious allergen. Therefore, if you get your system used to the stuff by sampling bits of local honey early in the season, you won’t get all scratchy-voiced and stuffed up.
But does it really work? Maybe, says a doctor named Lawrence Rosen, who consulted with WebMD about foods that treat allergies.
“If you take small doses of honey early in the season, you may develop a tolerance toward pollen in your area,” Rosen said. The key word here is “may.” The jury’s still out, but it’s worth a try. Besides, honey is delicious.
Pineapples aren’t just kitschy cups for tropical beverages anymore. The fruit might also help keep your nasal passages clear during allergy season.
The fruit contains this stuff called bromelain, which is an enzyme that can sooth irritation caused by allergies. It might even help with asthma, Rosen told WebMD. Just don’t try to eat the spiny skin. They may be called “pineapples,” but you can’t bite into them like a non-pine apple.
3. Salmon and Tuna
You might recognize these fishes from the semi-recent national obsession with Omega-3 fatty acids. Well, the “good” fats found in tuna, salmon, and certain other ocean residents is also good for toning down the effects of allergies.
It’s all about reducing inflammation, which Omega-3s do quite nicely, thank you.
4. Broccoli (Sorry)
Your mom was right. You should eat your broccoli. That goes double if you suffer from seasonal allergies. Broccoli contains a flavenoid called quercetin that can help to reduce histamine levels.
Histamines are the shock troops of the allergic response. They’re natural chemicals that your body releases when it senses allergens sneaking into your system. They make your eyes water, your nose run, and your skin itch, which is basically the trifecta of seasonal allergies.
5. Hot Peppers
If you thought broccoli was loaded with the histamine-busting flavenoid quercetin, you’ve got to try ancho peppers. These dried poblanos contain like 9 times the amount of quercetin that broccoli can boast. Jalapenos and serrano peppers are also rich in quercetin, so get that hot sauce brewing!