Vitamin C & Seasonal Allergies

Spring is in the air and so are billions of allergens to make your life just miserable enough to where you start to become afraid of the spring flowers instead of enjoying them. There is not much to do for seasonal allergies other than lessen the symptoms and lessen your exposure to them. Check out my earlier post about some things I do naturally for my seasonal allergies. I still do have a nose spray and during my worst times of year, I do take medication. But is there anything you can change in your diet that can help?

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Seasonal Allergy Foods

One thing to keep in mind is when your body has an allergic reaction it causes inflammation. Whether that is in your sinuses, your ears, your mouth, your throat, your skin, your lungs… it’s inflammation and the reaction of histamine. That inflammation is what starts to cause congestion, makes your allergy reaction worse, and can lead to infections. The best thing I can recommend is eating anti-inflammatory foods and foods that help to build up your immune system. Main thing to know about anti-inflammatory foods is to keep it whole. Things like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and lean proteins, as well as foods high in Omega 3 fatty acids. Things to avoid would be fried foods, processed foods, dairy, and things that are high in processed sugar like sodas, even some juices. And of course, avoid any food allergies you might have. I usually try to stay away from my food allergies, no matter how small of a reaction I might have to them, during my worst seasons.

However, the main nutrient we are going to be talking about today, is Vitamin C.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, but did you know it’s also an antihistamine? Not only does this vitamin keep your immune system and cells in shape, it fights off infection, and it also helps with your bodies overreacting histamine reaction. It prevents the secretion of histamine by white blood cells and increases its detoxification.

There have been studies showing how when we are stressed one of the many chemicals and hormones that are released, is histamine. There has been evidence that taking in large doses of vitamin C, they saw an increase of histamine leaving the system and decreasing in the blood. Some people have noticed a decrease in allergy symptoms by taking 1,000 – 2,000 mg a day of Vitamin C on a regular basis.

Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin so it is in and out of the body within 6 hours. So taking vitamin C in doses throughout the day would be beneficial.

Eating foods high in vitamin C is also beneficial and not just taking supplements. Foods that are high in vitamin C also have other antioxidant bioflavonoids such has quercetin (another antihistamine) that help the body to absorb vitamin C. It is important to note that oxygen and heat can diminish vitamin C, so it’s best to prepare and eat these foods immediately and raw. For instance, buying orange juice will have some vitamin C, but freshly juicing oranges for a glass of OJ would be more beneficial. (If you watch your blood sugar, eating oranges with the fiber of the pith, or the white part, will help to slowly digest the sugar and would keep your blood sugar more balanced.)

Here are a list of foods high in vitamin C. You might be surprised to know that oranges are not even in the top 3!

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Foods High In Vitamin C
  • Guava | 377 mg per 1 cup
  • Bell Peppers | 190 mg per cup
  • Kiwi | 167 mg per cup
  • Strawberries | 98 mg per cup
  • Oranges | 96 mg per cup
  • Papaya | 88 mg per cup
  • Broccoli | 81 mg per cup
  • Tomato | 55 mg per cup
  • Kale | 53 mg per cup
  • Snow Peas | 38 mg per cup

Although it might be hard to get to 2,000 mg of vitamin C a day through the foods you eat, you can incorporate them into your meals and snacks to ensure that any vitamin C supplement you might be taking has a good chance of being absorbed.

Bottom Line
  • If you experience seasonal allergies, try to increase your vitamin C intake during this time, and possibly on a regular basis to help with your reaction and to help decrease the chance of infections.
  • Because vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin it is in and out of the body relatively quickly, so taking small doses throughout the day is the best.
  • Eating foods high in vitamin C also helps vitamin C to be absorbed and also has other anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine benefits.

Stay well my friends!

 

Food Intolerance or Food Allergy?

There are so many people with a food allergy or a food intolerance now that sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between the two. I’d like to take a moment to define each and show the similarities and the differences. Sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference but hopefully this will help.

Food Intolerance

A food intolerance is when the digestive system has a hard time breaking down a specific food and has an adverse effect. Take for instance “lactose-intolerance”. It’s one of the most widely known and it effects many. Lactose intolerance means that a person’s digestive system has a hard time breaking down and digesting the sugar lactose, which is found in cow’s milk. When your body has an intolerance it can show itself in many different digestive symptoms but sometimes can show as other symptoms like headaches.

Common Symptoms of Food Intolerance:

  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomitting
  • Headaches
  • Etc.
Food Allergy

A food allergy involves an abnormal response by the immune system. Which is why it can be hard to detect if it is an allergy or an intolerance. It doesn’t always have to result in an anaphylaxis shock which can be life threatening.

Symptoms of Food Allergy:

  • Skin rash
  • Sneezing
  • Drainage
  • Inflammation (skin, sinuses, lungs, etc.)
  • Asthma Attack
  • Swelling
  • Hives
  • Anaphylaxis

Can also be accompanied by:

  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomitting
  • Emotional Symptoms (irritability, weepy, angry, etc. shortly after having food)
  • Hyperactivity

There are a lot of similarities between a food intolerance and a food allergy, but an allergy specifically is a reaction of the immune system. To know for sure, it would be best to set up an appointment for an allergy test.

The Top 8

Here are the top 8 food allergens that are now clearly marked on the ingredient list of foods. The other thing to consider, is if you have been diagnosed with a food allergy, let’s say shrimp, then you would want to either test for other shellfish or stay away from other shellfish like crab and lobster. It’s a cross-reaction and most likely you can have an allergic reaction to these as well. Some other allergens are hard to see in an ingredient list because they might not be as common – like strawberries for example. Although the top 8 are now clearly marked on labels, it’s best to know how to read labels and ingredient lists to be proactive.

  • Cow’s Milk
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Nuts
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Soy
  • Wheat

I’ve been posting about the different names allergens can be listed under, like corn, that might not necessarily be listed as that specific ingredient. Stay tuned for more, and visit the “Know Your Labels” page.

 

 

Seasonal Allergies – What I Use Naturally

It’s that time of year! Summer has now ended and fall is in full swing. For some people their worst allergies are in the spring. Others, like me, it’s in the fall. Ragweed is awful! I’m exhausted all the time, my mood changes, my stress level is higher, and there are some days I can’t even walk from the house to my car before I start sneezing and my eyes start watering.

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If you’ve read My Story, you know that as a kid I had severe food, environmental, and seasonal allergies. I’ve been able to grow out of some, and manage the rest. Today, I’d like to talk about what I use that helps my seasonal allergies that is natural, along with the foods that are good to have during this time of year for allergies. It might not take away all of it, and yes there are still times I need allergy medication, (like this time of year) but doing these natural remedies have helped to reduce my reactions and reduce the amount of medications I take during this time.

If you are researching how to help your seasonal allergies naturally, look into these things. Some things won’t work for everyone. And not everything is suited for all people when it comes to allergies and health. Please do your research before trying anything.

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Take Showers Often

When you are out and about all day, pollen gets attached to everything. In your car, your clothes, your hair, your skin, and of course your sinuses when you breath them in. To help reduce the overall exposure to the allergens, try to stay in the air conditioning, and when at home and are going to stay home, take a shower and wash (or at least rinse) your hair immediately. Throw your clothes in the hamper and rinse off.

By doing this you can keep the allergens low in your home so that your home can be as safe and clear from the seasonal allergies you are dealing with. On the same note, your sheets when going to bed will have minimal allergens on them and you can sleep without your sinuses clogging up over night.

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Apple Cider Vinegar First Thing In The Morning

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) has been know to help a lot of things. Some have proven true, and others have not. However, ACV being an anti-inflammatory is hard to argue against. There is also talk about it being an anti-histamine. Taking this in the morning will help to clear your head and open up your nasal passages.

Taking 1 teaspoon as a shot or with 8 ounces of water in the morning definitely has its benefits. When I first tried this, I was surprised at how much it cleared everything. I could breath better and I could feel my sinuses opening up and the drainage that resulted afterward. I feel so much more equipped to step outside into the ragweed infested air once I’ve had my dose of ACV.

 

Quercetin & Bromelain
Quercetin

Quercetin is an anti-oxidant meaning that it fights against natural oxidation damage in cells that occurs as we age. It acts as an anti-inflammatory and is a natural anti-histamine. Quercetin stabilizes the release of histamines which results in lowering the symptoms of allergies like coughing, sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, hives, etc. Studies have shown it can be just as effective as medications with little to no side effects.

  • Anti-Oxidant
  • Anti-Inflammatory
  • Natural Anti-Histamine
  • Can Be Just As Effective As Some Medications
  • Little To No Side Effects

Some of the foods highest in quercetin is apples and onions. However, to get the amount needed in your diet to help with major allergy seasons, it can take a lot. Getting it in a supplement form is suggested.

Bromelain

Bromelain is a digestive enzyme found in pineapple, including the stem and leaves. It helps to break down proteins that can be hard for us to digest and aids the liver in breaking it down. It’s used in a lot of meat tenderizers because of this. So next time you want to tenderize meat before cooking it, just let it soak up some fresh pineapple juice. With that in mind, bromelain helps to soothe and relax tense, inflamed muscles and connective tissues. It’s long been used for its anti-inflammatory and anti-swelling agents. If you have not looked up bromelain before, please do. There is so much that it can do and help with.

For allergies, like I said it is known for it’s anti-inflammatory and anti-swelling agents. Think of how swollen your sinuses can get and how inflamed it can be and then cause you to be at risk for an infection. Bromelain can help reduce the chances of a sinus infection. There have been studies that show how bromelain has helped to stop inflammatory responses affecting airways, which makes it something helpful for asthma sufferers. The enzyme helps by addressing the root of the issue – an oversensitive immune system. So instead of it blocking histamine like quercetin, it helps the immune system to have a normal response.

  • Digestive Enzyme found in pineapple
  • Anti-Inflammatory
  • Anti-Swelling
  • Helps Stop Inflammatory Responses, including airways
  • Gets To The Root – Oversensitive Immune System
Quercetin & Bromelain

Quercetin and bromelain are my favorite when it comes to defending myself against seasonal allergies. These are two different components you can find readily in foods which I’ll be listing later in this post. You can find these two together as one pill. Both have shown little to no side effects. The only thing is, is that the longer you take it, the better the results. It’s best to test how well it works after taking it for 2 weeks or more. For my fall allergies I start taking this combo at the end of June, 2 months ahead for early ragweed signs just to make sure. I even have a reminder on my calendar. With the other benefits of bromelain helping with inflammation and quercetin being a powerful antioxidant, it’s not going to hurt however early you start taking it and will be benefiting you before allergy season starts.

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My Natural Allergy Routine
  • Take Showers Often
  • Clean Clothes and Sheets More Often Than Usual
  • A Shot of Apple Cider Vinegar in the Morning
  • Start Taking Quercetin & Bromelain as Preventative Defense at Least 2 Weeks or More Prior

There are many other natural remedies out there, but these are the ones I choose and do regularly. I’d love to hear from you what you use!

Foods That Help with Allergies

Along with taking natural things as remedies and supplements, you can also be preventative by the foods you eat. Food rich in quercetin and bromelain (pineapple), and then also foods that support a healthy immune system that are high in things like vitamin C, zinc, and having a daily dose of probiotics can be very helpful. Foods rich in Omega-3 for it’s anti-inflammatory properties will help too. Here are some foods to make sure you’re having in your diet.

Vitamin C
  • Citrus Fruits (Oranges, Lemons, Limes, Grapefruit)
  • Kiwi
  • Bell Peppers, Especially Green Peppers
Zinc
  • Legumes (Lentils, Chickpeas, Beans)
  • Seeds (Pumpkin Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Hemp Seeds, Chia Seeds)
  • Lean Red Meat
Probiotics
  • Yogurt
  • Keifer
  • Sauerkraut
Omega-3
  • Fish (Salmon, Mackerel)
  • Seeds (Flax Seeds, Chia Seeds)
  • Walnuts
Quercetin
  • Berries (Raspberries, Blueberries, Blackberries, Strawberries)
  • Onions
  • Broccoli
  • Apples
Bromelain
  • Pineapple

Other than bromelain, which is only found in pineapple, there are more to add to the list of foods, but this gives you a rough idea. Eat for the nutrients your body needs, not just for energy. Like I said before, for some this might work, for others it might not at all. For me I still need to take allergy medication along with doing all of what I’ve listed to help. I don’t have to take as much, but to make sure it doesn’t cause an infection later on in the season and be down for a week or so, I still take allergy medication along with eating the foods I know will help and other things I can change in my lifestyle to aid my allergy reactions naturally.

I’d love to hear from you! What do you use or change in your routine during your allergy season?