Fall is peak season for many viral diseases. However, it is also a time of seasonal allergy flare-ups. Often, watery eyes, sneezing, fatigue, stuffy or runny nose, temporary loss of smell, cough, headache, stuffy ears, which indicate an attack of allergy, are mistaken for viral diseases. If you’re someone who suffers from ragweed, hay fever, dust mites, and mold that are common at this time of year, there are some food options that may improve your symptoms.
Uncomfortable allergy symptoms are caused by inflammatory problems such as swelling and irritation in the nasal passages, eyes and throat. Ginger can help reduce these symptoms naturally. Ginger has been used as a natural remedy for a number of health issues such as nausea and joint pain. It has also been studied for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory phytochemical compounds. In a 2016 study, ginger suppressed the production of pro-inflammatory proteins, which led to a reduction in allergy symptoms.
Even better news is the fact that it doesn’t matter if it’s fresh or dried ginger. So add it to your favorite dishes, stir-fries, curries, baked goods or prepare ginger tea for extra flavor.
Also bee pollen is a mixture of enzymes, nectar, honey, bee pollen and is often sold as a remedy for hay fever. Research has shown that bee pollen may have anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antimicrobial properties in the body. Bee pollen has been shown to inhibit mast cell activation — a crucial step in preventing allergic reactions. There is some evidence that consuming local bee pollen helps build your body’s resistance to the pollen in your area. Bee pollen comes in small pellets, with a taste that some have described as bittersweet or nutty. You can often find it at local farmers markets or buy it from local beekeepers. Try sprinkling some on yogurt or granola, or blending it into a smoothie.
Likewise, we’ve all heard that vitamin C helps with colds and flu. Did you know that it is also beneficial in the fight against allergies? Eating foods high in vitamin C has been shown to reduce allergic rhinitis. This is upper respiratory irritation from bee pollen from flowering plants. Allergy season is a great time to stock up on vitamin C-rich foods like oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, and tomatoes!
Speaking of tomatoes, not only do they contain 26 percent of your daily vitamin C, but they also contain the compound lycopene. Lycopene is an antioxidant compound that helps stop systemic inflammation. Interestingly, lycopene is both easier to absorb and intensifies when the tomato is cooked.
Are you an onion lover? If so, add it to your arsenal for allergy season. Onions contain a compound called quercetin. Quercetin acts as a natural antihistamine and reduces the symptoms of seasonal allergies. Onions also contain a number of other anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds. Raw red onions have the highest concentration of quercetin. Cooking onions significantly reduces quercetin content. Try adding them to salads, dips, or sandwiches.
dr Dianna Richardson has served Jefferson City and the surrounding community for more than 22 years. She has been a wellness practitioner in the field of health and nutrition for over 30 years. The core of her practice remains the use of nutrition to improve health, vitality and quality of life. Richardson has a Ph.D. in naturopathy, as well as degrees in nutrition and a master’s degree in public health education. She can be found at the Health, Wellness & Nutrition Center, LLC on Dix Road in Jefferson City.
CARAMELIZED CAULIFLOWER WITH PEPPERS & ONIONS
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small head of white cauliflower, seeded and roughly chopped
1 small head yellow or purple cauliflower, seeded and roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more as needed
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded, seeded and sliced
1/2 small red onion, halved and sliced
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped (or 3 teaspoons dried)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Pour the oil into a large, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the white and purple cauliflower and sauté, stirring occasionally, until well browned in spots, about 4 minutes, then season with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and black pepper. Place the pan in the oven and roast the cauliflower until tender, about 6 minutes.
Place the pan back on the stove over high heat. Add butter, red pepper, onion and nutmeg. Taste, add salt and pepper as needed and cook, stirring frequently, until the peppers and onion soften, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the parsley and serve.