If you’re trying to figure out what helps with summer allergies, one thing you shouldn’t overlook is your diet. Allergists recommend following an anti-inflammatory diet for allergies since most allergy symptoms emerge from inflammatory issues, such as swelling and irritation in the sinuses, eyes, and throat.1 According to Emily Telfair, a naturopathic doctor in Baltimore, a diet rich in vitamin C and Omega-3s help to “beat back allergy symptoms” as part of the anti-inflammatory diet.2 If you suffer from allergies, consider adding the following eight foods to your grocery list.
Ginger has proven antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce your allergy symptoms.3 One 2020 study from Thailand showed that ginger was just as effective in reducing allergy symptoms as the antihistamine Loratadine.4 There also seems to be no difference between dried or fresh ginger, making it super easy to throw into stir-frys, mix into tea, or even eat raw if you’re drawn to the potent flavor.
Studies show that bee pollen may have anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antimicrobial effects on the body.5 According to Robin Foroutan, RDN, an integrative medicine dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, bee pollen works like an allergy shot: “Small doses of the allergic trigger, in this case, local pollen, can help the body realize that the trigger isn't an actual threat.”6 Fresh bee pollen is typically found in the refrigerated section of most health food stores, although there are also capsules available.
Omega-3s found in salmon and other oily fish may also keep allergies at bay because of their anti-inflammatory effects that stimulate the immune system. One 2005 study found that the more EPA fatty acid people had in their bloodstream, the less their risk of allergic sensitivity or hay fever.7 Another study shows that pregnant women who consume fish during pregnancy may also reduce the risk of their children developing asthma or allergic diseases later in life.8
While most people load up on vitamin C when they’re battling a cold, there is some evidence that shows it may be just as helpful when dealing with seasonal allergies.9 Eating citrus fruits high in vitamin C like grapefruits, oranges, and lemons is a solid way to decrease allergic rhinitis and reduce symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, and itchy, watery eyes.
Citrus fruits aren’t the only source of vitamin C. Surprisingly, broccoli has more vitamin C than oranges and is an easy food to incorporate into your meals.10 Are you more of a fan of broccoli sprouts and the crunch they add to your sandwiches or salads? A 2014 study in Food & Function found that broccoli sprouts may help reduce the impact of particulate pollution on people with allergies and asthma.11
Garlic is another anti-inflammatory that may relieve sinus pressure thanks to its potent aroma.12 Allicin, a chemical compound found in garlic, helps to thin mucus in the nasal passages and reduces the inflammation that contributes to clogged airways.
Turmeric also has proven anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce symptoms of seasonal allergies.13 In one 2016 study, researchers compared the effects of curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric) to placebo, and found that the former alleviated nasal symptoms (sneezing and rhinorrhea) and nasal congestion.14 Turmeric can also help boost the immune system for a swift recovery.15 Try to take turmeric with black pepper if you can, though. It increases the bioavailability of curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, by up to 2,000 percent.16
Local Raw Honey
Like bee pollen, local raw honey may also be used to reduce the symptoms of seasonal allergies, mimicking the effect of allergy shots. One 2013 study found that honey improved common symptoms of allergic rhinitis, including nasal blockage, nasal discharge, nasal itchiness, and sneezing within four weeks.17
Foods to Avoid
Staying away from foods that increase inflammation in the body is a great first step in managing allergy symptoms. For instance, sugar and seasonal allergies do not make a good match as sugar is notorious for its inflammatory effects.18 And according to Shari Lieberman, PhD, CNS, FACN, author of The Gluten Connection, gluten and dairy may also trigger inflammation and mucus production in sensitive people, so steering clear of these types of foods when battling allergies can help tremendously.19
If you’ve made adjustments to your diet and it’s not enough, and you are considering using an allergy medication, we do recommend something that does not use harsh chemicals. This is especially true if you have other health issues like high blood pressure or you’re looking for relief for your child, as some popular OTC medications can increase blood pressure and be unsafe for children. Brillia Health’s homeopathic formulations, Cold-Flu Recovery and Cough Control, both use antibodies to histamines, which reduce their ability to cause inflammation and trigger allergy symptoms. Unlike other over-the-counter antihistamines, Brillia Health’s products do not use harsh chemicals that cause harmful side effects like nausea or drowsiness, and their targeted approach ensures no other bodily systems are compromised. Use Brillia Cold & Flu Recovery if you are dealing with multiple symptoms like congestion, sneezing, runny nose, and post-nasal drip. Or try Cough Control if your allergy symptoms include a dry cough or chest tightness. Both products can also be taken together or alongside other medications because there are absolutely no contraindications. Find out more about how Brillia Health products work.
Erica Garza is an author and essayist from Los Angeles. She holds an MFA from Columbia University and a certificate in Narrative Therapy. Her writing has appeared in TIME, Health, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Women's Health, and VICE.