Which diets help your allergies (or make them worse)?
Thursday, September 6, 2018, 2:15 PM - Sneezing, wheezing, coughing… these are the sounds of allergy season.
Allergy season is everybody’s least favourite season, whether you suffer from seasonal allergies or not. It can be tough to deal with these allergies without them affecting your day-to-day life – and did you know that what you eat can actually trigger your seasonal allergies too?
“People who suffer from seasonal allergies can also suffer from Oral Allergy Syndrome, which actually makes their seasonal allergies worse,” says Jess Pirnak, dietician and writer at Food Yourself.
While cutting out certain allergy-triggering foods can be helpful, increasing your consumption of certain foods can also help battle your allergies.
These diet trends encourage the consumption of foods containing vitamins and nutrients that can act as natural antihistamines.
GOOD DIET TRENDS
Pescatarian (or Pesco-Vegetarian)
Pescatarian diets are essentially vegetarian diets, but you can still eat fish and dairy products - both of which are great for fighting environmental allergies due to naturally high levels of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D. If you suffer from allergies and are primarily a meat eater, a pescatarian diet will force you to eat more fish.
Dr. Amin Kunani, clinical assistant professor of allergy and immunology at the University of British Columbia, says that simply taking omega oil supplements won’t help in the same way that eating fish itself does. Studies have shown that people who took supplements needed to take large amounts to have the same benefits as people who eat fish regularly.
DASH Diet (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension)
Although this diet was originally created to lower high blood pressure, it could also be beneficial to those suffering from allergies! The DASH diet prevents you from eating foods that are high in sodium, saturated fats, and cholesterol, and encourages the consumption of vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy products. Certain studies have suggested that consuming foods that are high in sodium could worsen allergy symptoms, so the DASH diet would prevent this (and lower your blood pressure while you’re at it!).
The Whole30 diet is aimed to give your body a 30-day cleanse of unhealthy and potentially inflammatory foods. Its restrictions include any processed foods, grains, dairy, alcohol, and sugar, and encourages the consumption of whole foods only. The only downfall with the Whole30 diet is that you can’t eat dairy products, which are high in vitamin D and often beneficial to fighting off allergies. If you’re trying out the Whole30 diet, it may be helpful to take vitamin D supplements or eat other foods high in the vitamin, such as mushrooms.
The Mediterranean diet consists of a high intake of fruits, vegetables, breads, whole grains, legumes, and nuts, and a low intake of dairy, eggs, meats, and poultry. Studies done throughout the past 10+ years have shown that sticking to a Mediterranean diet can improve respiratory-related allergy symptoms and asthma. Mediterranean meals that include grapes, tomatoes, and nuts are great, as these foods have wonderful antioxidant properties. Onions, peppers, and parsley also help as they contain quercetin – a natural plant chemical that reduces histamine reactions.
The Keto diet is gaining popularity among people who want to lose weight. Because of the foods it encourages you to eat, it’s similar to the Pescatarian diet in the sense that it will force you to eat foods higher in vitamins and nutrients that fight off allergies. The Keto diet is high fat and low carb, and has proven to be beneficial in improving diabetes, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, and certain cancers.
Foods with “good carbs” that the diet encourages eating include seafood, cheese, yogurt, and berries (which also contain quercetin to reduce histamine reactions). Fight off those pesky allergies and shed a few pounds of that winter weight, too!
The Paleo diet is similar to the Keto diet and the Whole30 diet, as it also encourages the consumption of fish, eggs, and whole, unprocessed foods. It discourages the consumption of potential allergy triggers such as soybean oil, lentils, beans, and some legumes. The downfall is that is discourages the consumption of dairy products (though some variations of the diet allow you to eat full-fat butter and cheese).
DIET TRENDS THAT WILL NOT HELP ALLERGIES:
Any Raw Food Diet
People who have pollen allergies should avoid raw fruits and vegetables. “Someone who’s tree pollen-allergic can crossreact to certain proteins found in tree fruits, such as apples, cherries, peaches,” said Dr. Kunani. “And so when they eat those particular fruits, their bodies get confused, and think they’re eating pollen.”
Raw food diets have many health benefits, but if you suffer from seasonal allergies, it might be best to wait until later in the year when your allergies have cleared up to try one out.
Not to say that if you’re vegan you have to suffer through allergy season, but you may have to make some adjustments to your diet. Dairy substitutes like soy can trigger seasonal allergies, so alternatives like almond milk or hemp milk should be used in the meantime. Lentils and beans can also trigger seasonal allergies, which does not bode well for vegans that use these foods as meat substitutes. Not eating any fish, dairy, or meat can leave you missing a lot of important immune-boosting vitamins and nutrients, so make sure to load up on your supplements! Consider switching to a pescatarian diet during allergy season instead.
Low FODMAP Diet (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols)
This diet is aimed toward people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, other bowel or colon related issues, abdominal pain, and migraines. The diet involves cutting several fruits and vegetables, beans, lentils, lactose, gluten, nuts and sweeteners out of your diet temporarily, then slowly re-introducing them to identify if any of them trigger your condition. While it has proved to be extremely beneficial for those dealing with the above issues, it isn’t very helpful for dealing with environmental allergies.
Before embarking on any drastic diet change, and for any reason, be sure to consult a dietitian. They can help you prepare meal plans that will ensure you’re still getting all the nutrients your body needs. Jess Pirnak also suggests keeping a food journal when experiencing any health issues or worsened allergies to narrow down your triggers. “Before you eliminate all of this food, you need to make sure that it’s food that your body particularly responds to,” says Pirnak.