Antihistamines are a huge comfort for allergy sufferers in the spring. The medication helps to support the immune system, which overreacts to invading allergens. But there is a proactive approach that could have you relying on fewer antihistamines this season.
Benjamin Klinck, ND, Clinical Director of Naturopathy at Medcan, says a strong and relaxed immune system creates a resilient defence against allergens. When your immune system is at its best, he says, your body is capable of responding proficiently to allergens, leaving you feeling less weighed down by seasonal allergy symptoms. Here are six of Dr. Klinck’s immunity-building suggestions:
Increase good bacteria
“Adding a probiotic to your diet is the first step to generalized immune system support,” says Klinck. You can find these gut-friendly probiotics in yogurt, fermented milk, kafir, kimchi, goat’s milk and cheese, kombucha, miso, sauerkraut – or a probiotic supplement (acidophilus at five billion active cells is a general recommendation).
Up omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids increase the body’s ability to counter inflammation. Fish oils are the easiest way to meet your recommended daily requirement. For vegetarians, there are omega-3 fatty acid products sourced from seaweed. When choosing foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, opt for one of the MASH fish: Mackerel, Anchovies, Sardines or Herring. Walnuts and chia seeds are also rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
Amp the vitamin C
Research has shown 2,000 mg of vitamin C a day can reduce the duration of a cold. Ahead of allergy season, vitamin C has an strong anti-inflammatory effect. Vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables include bell peppers, cabbage, brussel sprouts, kohlrabi, tomato, guava, papaya, kiwi, citrus fruits, pineapple and strawberries.
Practice mindful breathing
“When your immune system is strong and relaxed your body is less likely to overreact to pollen or other allergens,” says Klinck.
Taking a five or 10-min breathing break throughout your workday can counter the sustained stress that takes a toll on your immune system. Implementing a foundational mindfulness routine can build your strength and resilience back up. Klinck recommends starting with a regular yoga class if “focusing on the breath” is a new concept for you.
Book an acupuncture appointment
Acupuncture can be something that is used leading up to and throughout allergy season. Klinck cites research that found traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture supports the organs to get back to equilibrium when under stress.
Pour some nettle or astragalus tea
Nettle and astragalus root tea both have beneficial properties for the allergy sufferer. They help reduce the histamine release – the same job as an over-the-counter antihistamine – and diminish allergy symptoms. You can find these these specialty teas in a health-food store, but be sure to speak to your doctor first, as the tea can interact with other medications.
After earning his naturopathic medical degree from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine Ben completed a clinical externship at Johns Hopkins University at the Integrative Medicine and Digestive Center.
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