If you suffer from seasonal allergies, you may notice that certain beverages can make your symptoms worse or better. And there’s some evidence that there are possible dietary links to seasonal allergies, their onset, and prevalence of symptoms, so it’s not all in your stuffy head.
“In general, beverages that are hydrating and offer anti-inflammatory benefits will benefit your body, reduce allergy symptoms, and strengthen the immune system during allergy season,” says registered dietitian nutritionist Ginger Hultin, RDN, author of Anti-Inflammatory Diet Meal Prep and How to Eat to Beat Disease Cookbook.
The same goes for certain foods. “This is because our bodies tend to mistake proteins, which are found in certain foods, as pollen,” says Lauren Harris-Pincus, RDN, registered dietitian nutritionist and author of The Everything Easy Pre-Diabetes Cookbook.
How to know if you have seasonal allergies
“One of the most common symptoms of seasonal allergies is what’s called ‘allergic rhinitis,’ or basically, sneezing and a runny or stuffy nose,” says Hultin. “However, other common symptoms include itchy, swollen, watery eyes, and for some, chest tightness and coughing or wheezing.” You may also experience headache and fatigue, too.
The best drinks to ease seasonal allergy symptoms
Nettles are a natural remedy for allergic rhinitis. “There’s evidence that nettles can help reduce inflammation and even calm allergy symptoms, specifically,” says Hultin.
Nettle tea resembles green tea thanks to its similar earthy, grassy notes. If it’s too bland, add a bit of manuka honey, which is antimicrobial by nature and can provide further immunity boosting benefits.
“Some research suggests that probiotics help improve quality of life during allergy season, and though there’s much more to discover as to why this is, and how best to dose probiotics, fermented beverages, like kombucha, offer a natural source of these gut-healthy bacteria,” says Hultin.
Here’s a video all about kombucha in case you’re curious:
“Used as an herbal remedy for hundreds of years, lavender tea is commonly used as a relaxing agent to ease and fight stress, as well as improve sleep,” says Hultin. These three benefits are welcome year-round, of course—however, they should definitely be prioritized during allergy season, when congestion can impact the quality of your zzzs.
“Green tea is another beverage that’s been shown to have antihistamine properties to help relieve seasonal allergy symptoms,” says Harris-Pincus. Plus: “Quercetin, an antioxidant found in green tea, helps prevent immune responses in those with pollen, animal dander or dust allergies,” she adds.
“By offering a rich source of vitamin C, rosehip also contains immune-supporting properties,” says Hultin. Get this—just one cup of rosehip tea offers 540 mg of vitamin C, or about seven times the recommended daily dose for women.
What’s more, “research suggests that rosehips, and thus rosehip tea, may be a supportive addition to those with seasonal allergies,” says Hultin, as a result of rosehips’ high antioxidant content. Antioxidants help fight inflammation in the body and provide protection against damage due to free-radicals and oxidative stress, as well as from sickness and disease—which includes exacerbation of seasonal allergy symptoms, too.
Lemon water or lemonade
“Foods high in vitamin C help support the immune system and reduce symptoms of seasonal allergies, so you might want to generously squeeze lemon juice into hot or cold water or make a batch of healthy, homemade lemonade, using fresh lemons, as a refreshing way to take your hydration up a notch and get extra vitamin-C benefits, at once,” says Harris-Pincus.
The worst drinks if you’re battling allergies
Beer is fermented, just like kombucha, but while kombucha contains probiotics, beer sadly does not. In fact, “beer can worsen seasonal allergies due to its histamine content, which bacteria and yeast produce during the fermentation process,” says Harris-Pincus. “Studies show beer aggravates allergy symptoms, so it’s best to steer clear of it if you’re experiencing seasonal allergies,” Hultin adds.
“Wine’s been shown to be associated with increased likelihood of triggering many allergy symptoms, like sneezing, a congested or runny nose, itching, flushed skin, headache and asthma,” says Harris-Pincus. Histamines are a culprit again here. “There are actually very specific studies showing that red and white wine are triggers, especially for women,” Hultin adds.
Researchers found subjects that consumed wine experienced greater incidences of common allergy symptoms, such as nasal blockage and discharge, sneezing, and other respiratory problems. “This study links greater incidence of allergy symptoms and respiratory conditions, in particular, with the consumption of both red and white wine,” Hultin adds.
A brunch favorite and staple, Bloody Marys (aka, spicy tomato juice that’s spiked with vodka), may taste great going down that morning after a long night out, but you may regret it shortly after once your allergy symptoms flare up.
Both alcohol and spicy food can irritate and worsen seasonal allergies, so a spicy (or even mild) Bloody Mary isn’t your best beverage of choice when you’re looking to better manage allergy symptoms.
“When infused with black pepper or hot peppers, it’ll mimic the symptoms of allergies and lead to increased flushing of the skin and a runny nose,” explains Hultin.
Any kind of sweet beverage that’s heavy in its use of sweetener can exacerbate allergy symptoms. “Although there’s not as clear of a link between excess sugar intake and severity of allergies specifically, it has been shown that a high intake of added sugars can cause low-grade, chronic inflammation,” says Hultin.
Anything you can do during allergy season to calm inflammation may alleviate symptoms.
Hilton recommends women reduce their added sugar intake to no more than 24 grams per day, “while the average man should consumes no more than 36 grams per day,” she says.
Drinking hydrating beverages high in antioxidants, like tea, and vitamins, like water with lemon, can help alleviate your seasonal allergy symptoms.
Meanwhile, reducing your consumption if alcohol and drinks with added sugar may prevent symptoms from feeling worse. Cheers to that.
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