There are many naturally-occurring plant compounds called phytonutrients that assist with allergies. The main ones include: anthocyanin, curcumin, hesperetin, and quercetin in your diet. Don’t worry about remembering their names. I’ve listed the food sources of each below. Of course, if you have a food allergy or sensitivity to one of the sources indicated, avoid that food.
Eat Foods Rich in Anthocyanins
The phytonutrient group known as anthocyanins give foods their purplish-red color. They have natural anti-inflammatory properties. Anthocyanins are found in most dark red and purple-colored foods. Some food sources include: beets, berries, cherries, and dark purple and red grapes.
Eat Curries to Benefit from Anti-Inflammatory Curcumin
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a yellow-colored spice commonly found in Indian curries. It contains the active ingredient curcumin, which is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory substance. Research has shown that ingesting 1200 mg of curcumin daily can have the same effect as anti-inflammatory drugs. You’d need to supplement to obtain that dose; however, you can also add fresh or dried turmeric to many foods: soups, curries, stews, salad dressings, etc. Be sure to avoid dairy-based curries or you’ll be undermining many of the anti-inflammatory benefits of turmeric since dairy products are mucous-forming.
Hesperetin/Hesperidin for Hay Fever
Hesperetin and hesperidin are almost identical except that the latter is bound to a sugar molecule. Research shows that these potent phytonutrients have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticarcinogenic, and cholesterol-lowering actions, and also protect blood vessels against damage. These are just some of the therapeutic side-effects of hesperidin. Hesperidin is also beneficial for allergies and hay fever because of its antihistamine properties. Green vegetables are a source of hesperidin / hesperetin. You can also find them in their highest concentration in citrus fruits like lemons and oranges, especially the white part, or pith. Of course, avoid citrus fruits if you suspect that you are sensitive to them.
Take Quercetin to Quell Allergy Symptoms
Quercetin is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-histamine phytonutrient. Research shows that eating a quercetin-rich diet lowers LDL (harmful) cholesterol, blood pressure, and risk of heart disease, as well as the risk of prostate, colon, ovarian, breast, gastric, prostate, and cervical cancers. These are great beneficial side-effects but we’re interested in its ability to help allergy symptoms and to improve lung function. Apples and onions are excellent sources of quercetin. Some studies show that people who eat a lot of apples have improved lung function and reduced risk of lung conditions. Other good sources include: berries, cabbage, cauliflower, nuts (not peanuts), and black, green, or white tea.
It is frequently beneficial to take quercetin in a supplement form to assist with the histamine-induced sinus congestion, runny eyes or nose, or other allergy symptoms. The food sources of this nutrient are helpful but when you’re experiencing full-blown allergies, you may need higher doses of this anti-histamine-type nutrient to combat uncomfortable symptoms. Most quercetin supplements also contain the enzyme bromelain, which is an excellent anti-allergy combination. Most people find relief from taking 400 milligrams of quercetin twice daily.
Adapted from Allergy-Proof by Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD.