Whether you're sneezing and coughing because of mold or dust mites inside or pollen or ragweed outside, allergies can wipe you out. And unfortunately, plenty of OTC meds that put the kibosh on symptoms leave you groggy as a result. Never fear, you've got another (natural) option to get some allergy relief: your diet.
The Stir asked Colleen Francioli, a certified nutritionist consultant and founder of FODMAPLife.com and Boncalme.com, to share her fave allergy-fighting foods. And surprise! Oranges didn't even make the cut.
1. Salmon. Or sardines. And really any fish that's high in Omega-3s. These fatty acids "have anti-inflammatory properties, and have a greater potential to help with allergies when consumed, not when taken in supplemental form," Francioli explains.
2. Turmeric. The active ingredient in this native Indian spice is curcumin, and it helps reduce inflammation in parts of the body. Plus, it's easier to use than you might think. "Use it in smoothies, juices, rice dishes, salads, and steamed vegetables," Francioli suggests.
3. Oregano. Talk about a powerhouse. The compounds in wild oregano oil have been shown to reduce common allergy symptoms like itching, sneezing, and congestion. You're also getting plenty of anti-allergy, anti-bacterial, antihistamine, antioxidant, and anti-coughing aids, Francioli notes. "Add organic wild oregano oil to water or along with turmeric and lemon juice [to sip] or use topically under the nose."
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4. Onions or blueberries. The phytonutrient quercetin helps protect you against seasonal allergy symptoms. And it's "a natural antihistamine that calms immune cells," explains Francioli. Some excellent sources? Onions (cooked or raw), ancho peppers, raw okra, raw black plums, and raw asparagus. Apples, blueberries, cilantro, cranberries, and alfalfa sprouts are good choices, too.
5. Pineapple. Sorry, oranges. You're good for fighting a cold, but when it comes to allergies, pineapples take the, um, cake. Like oranges, pineapples are a great source of vitamin C, "which can help improve immunity and reduce allergic reactions," says Francioli. But pineapple also contains an enzyme called bromelain "that helps prevent inflammation and swelling in the body," Francioli adds. Your stuffy sinuses will thank you.
6. Vitamin C–rich foods. Again with the vitamin C. Foods with the highest amounts may surprise you: red and yellow (raw) bell peppers, green and red hot chili peppers, plus raw guava, pummel, and kiwi.
7. Raw garlic. "If you have a sore throat, runny nose, or nasal congestion, raw garlic may help you," notes Francioli. "[It's] believed to have mucus-thinning and anti-inflammatory properties, meaning it can improve mucus flow and reduce congestion." It also contains antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-fungal properties, which can't hurt.
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But garlic -- as well as onions -- aren't for everyone. If you have irritable bowel syndrome, "garlic and onions are known to irritate the gut and trigger IBS symptoms," explains Francioli. "Try a very small amount or just refer to other foods [like the ones above] to help with seasonal allergies."
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