Eat to Ease Your Allergies

Although you usually can’t cure your allergies with a special diet, what you eat can make a difference in how you feel. Some foods can make your allergy symptoms better, and some can make them worse.

Foods That Help: Fish. Some studies show that omega-3 fatty acids -- found in salmon, tuna, and other fish -- might lower your chances of getting allergies in the first place. So, could they help if you already have allergies? While some early evidence is promising, it's too soon to say, says Clifford W. Bassett, MD, an allergist at the NYU School of Medicine. Remember, fresh salmon is much healthier for you than farmed salmon.

Fruits and vegetables. One Spanish study showed that kids with allergic asthma who ate lots of tomatoes, eggplant, cucumber, green beans, and zucchini had fewer symptoms than kids who didn't. Fruits and veggies high in vitamins C and E -- such as spinach, broccoli, and tomatoes -- might also ease swelling in your airways.

Mediterranean diet. Nuts, healthy oils, fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, and even red wine are good for your heart, and maybe your airways, too. One study showed that this diet helped to control severe asthma symptoms. Another showed that pregnant women who consumed this diet were less likely to have kids with allergies or asthma.

Yogurt. You might not think that your digestive tract has much to do with your runny nose. While there is conflicting evidence, many experts say that having healthy "good" bacteria or probiotics in your intestines can help allergy symptoms such as runny nose and congestion. One study showed that allergic kids who drank milk enriched with probiotics had fewer reactions to pollen. And yogurt is a good natural source of probiotics. Make sure to buy a brand that has live cultures in it.

Foods to Avoid: Raw fruits and vegetables. Some pollens have proteins that are very similar to those in everyday fruits and vegetables, and your body can mistake the two. If you're allergic to ragweed, for example, you might also have symptoms when eating watermelon. The same goes for grass pollen and cantaloupe, tree pollen and apples. Before you redo your grocery list, know that cooking fruits and veggies often alters these proteins making them less likely to cause symptoms. That lowers your chance of a reaction.

Spicy food. Spices can trigger the release of histamine. That's the chemical that causes swelling and stuffiness in your nasal passages.

Alcohol. For some people, a glass of alcohol causes swelling and stuffiness in their nose. If you're already congested, alcohol can make your symptoms worse.

There are very legitimate concerns about introducing new foods into one’s diet, especially in children, particularly given the rise in food allergies in children. If you have any such concerns, consider allergy testing or updating your previous allergy testing to make sure your underlying allergies don’t put you at risk of having an adverse reaction.

Changing your diet can help, but it's no substitute for proper allergy and asthma treatment. Good medical care will get your symptoms under control and help you feel better. Please give us a call to learn more about treatment options that are available to help control and prevent both seasonal and perennial (year-round) allergy symptoms.

In observance of President’s Day, the office will be closed Monday, February 15th.

Download February Newsletter 2015 (opens in PDF)