Combating Seasonal Allergies: Lifestyle and Nutrition Tips
If you have a seasonal allergy, then there are times of the year you dread a little bit more than other people. Although a seasonal allergy is triggered by exposure to airborne substances, particularly pollens, the underlying cause of a seasonal allergy is probably a mix of genetics and environmental exposure.
Experts estimate that 25% of all humans have seasonal allergies.
Although nothing is known to completely cure them, seasonal allergies can be managed. In addition to many over-the-counter and prescription solutions like antihistamines and steroid nasal sprays, lifestyle and nutrition can also play a role in keeping you comfortable and healthy all year long.
Move away from the windows
While that fresh springtime air smells wonderful, it’s full of pollen and other substances that set off allergies. Keeping your windows closed can help to minimize your exposure.
It’s especially good to keep windows closed near your bed so pollen (or dust or mold) isn’t settling on your sheets where you spend many hours each night. If you can move your bed so it’s not directly under a window, even better.
Keep it clean
And speaking of sheets…they tend to collect particles that circulate in the air and settle. Washing sheets frequently in a hypoallergenic detergent is a good idea. Same goes for the clothes you wear outside. And make sure you dry everything in a dryer rather than on a clothesline.
Filter your air
No matter how clean you keep your house, pollen, dust, and other particles will get in. If you have central air conditioning, then spend the extra money to invest in allergy-certified air filters, and change the filters at their recommended intervals.
You can also get allergy filters for most vacuum cleaners that are rated to collect and trap particles that settle in carpets.
If you don’t have central air, then there are many options for free-standing air filters. The most important locations tend to be bedrooms or other rooms where you spend the most time.
Rinse and repeat
You know what else collects pollens and other particles from the air? You do. In addition to your clothes, your skin and hair get covered in allergens throughout the day.
If you are outside on a day with a high pollen count, then rinse off when you come in.
Taking a shower and washing your hair before bed will make sure you don’t transfer more allergens to your sleeping environment, so you aren’t spending all night exposed to things that irritate you.
In addition to making these adjustments to your environment, you can use nutritional support to help your immune system better manage the allergens you are encountering. A few of these supportive nutrients include:
Quercetin is a flavonoid antioxidant found in high levels in foods like apples and onions. One of its best-known mechanisms of action involves its ability to stabilize cells called mast cells – the ones that get irritated by allergens and release histamine.*
You won’t get quick relief from quercetin like you will with an antihistamine, but its use over time can be helpful nutritional support for individuals who occasionally suffer from allergies.*
Bromelain is a mixture of enzymes from the pineapple plant that has been shown to promote healing and reduce temporary and minor swelling.* Bromelain has also been shown to support sinus and respiratory health.*
It likely helps reduce the discomfort of seasonal allergies by thinning the mucous, which can bring temporary relief of the swelling in the sinuses.*
Vitamin C isn’t the sexiest nutrient these days, but it is still an important antioxidant for supporting healthy immune system function.* In addition, research has shown a decrease in occasional sneezing and runny nose with an increased intake of vitamin C.* So adding a little more when your allergies act up can be supportive.*
We are learning so much these days about how the living organisms in the gut – the microbiome – impact areas of health far beyond the digestive system. Supporting the microbiome with probiotics can be helpful for individuals with seasonal allergies.*
One probiotic bacterial strain, Lactobacillus gasseri, is showing promise in studies. Having a greater presence of L gasseri in the gut is associated with a healthier immune response that might specifically benefit seasonal allergy sufferers.*
Short of living in a bubble, you can’t cure a seasonal allergy. But by combining lifestyle and dietary strategies, you can spend a little more time smelling the flowers and enjoying it!