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Dietary changes may help fight allergies

Written by Nancy Arnott

What’s on your plate has a significant effect on allergies, including on how well allergy meds work for you, says says Vincent Pedre, MD, a board-certified internist and integrative physician in New York City, author of the book Happy Gut, and a former seasonal allergy sufferer himself. Nutrition is Dr. Pedre’s preferred approach to treating his allergies, in order to avoid possible drug side effects such as fatigue, sleepiness, and “feeling mentally slow,” he says.

A dietary strategy against allergies might include subtracting some foods and nutrients and adding or increasing others. Eliminating or reducing foods such as wheat, dairy and sugar can make a difference, Dr. Pedre says. “We change the diet — a lot of times taking out dairy, for example — and spring allergy symptoms become pretty much nonexistent,” he observes. “There can be a huge improvement with the right dietary changes.”

On the add-to-your-diet list, Dr. Pedre recommends foods rich in vitamin C (a natural antihistamine, antioxidant and immune booster), quercetin (an antihistamine and anti-inflammatory), and omega-3 fatty acids (anti-inflammatories). Foods high in vitamin C include broccoli, kale, cauliflower, bell peppers, mangoes, strawberries, oranges, pineapples, cantaloupes and peaches. Dietary sources of quercetin are apples, citrus fruits, onions, garlic, tomatoes, legumes, dark berries, green and black teas and red wine. “Vitamin C and quercetin stabilize the mast cells, which release histamine,” so you’re left with fewer allergy symptoms such as a runny nose or sneezing, Dr. Pedre explains. . . . Meanwhile, omega-3 fatty acids can be found in  . . . almonds, walnuts, avocado, ground flax and chia seeds.

Although there are no studies to support its effectiveness, locally sourced honey — a teaspoon per day, taken for a couple of months before allergy season begins — is theoretically a natural form of immunotherapy, Dr. Pedre adds. The idea is that it delivers a small dose of pollens from the local area, the same ones that would trigger an allergic response if your body were not accustomed to them.

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