Spring has sprung and with it watery eyes, itchy noses and sneezing. Hay fever, or seasonal allergic rhinitis, is an acute allergy-related condition that is estimated to affect one in four adults in the western world.
It is often thought to be caused by Spring to Summer changes in grasses and pollen (thus the reference to ‘hay’) but if you are looking out on sand and crystal blue sea you are not immune - quite the opposite in fact.
Like many 21st century ills, allergies are a hotbed of debate. In one camp there’s the 'hygiene hypothesis' that argues that our environment is too clean and that children's immune systems aren't being challenged enough. Babies are not being allowed to develop a natural immunity, so the argument goes.
For others it is only a contributing factor, the answer lies deeper within. In the case of allergies, the root of the problem is thought of as the gut microbiome, where problems have developed assiduously over time.
"Take Britain for example where the rates of hay fever compared to the rest of the EU are particularly high, especially amongst teenagers with 38 percent suffering from the problem."
One theory gaining ground is that in the U.K. we are now seeing the result of the high levels of antibiotics that were prescribed by GPs until about 10 or 15 years ago. This meant that the immune systems of our current teen population have been compromised, leaving their gut – the body’s frontline defence – more vulnerable to allergens. Medical professionals also know that the condition is heritable so some of us are more vulnerable than others.
If you are vulnerable to this scourge of Spring, the first step is always to drink water to stave off dehydration. Histamine is used in the body as a water regulator so if the body is dehydrated, more histamine will be produced.
Processed foods are a no-go too. Colourings and flavourings can worsen any allergic reaction. Rather, try to eat a the Mediterranean-style diet with plenty of onions and garlic instead as they both contain high levels of quercetin, a potent antioxidant which helps to promotes a healthy inflammatory response. Don’t forget those beneficial omega fats too, vegan-friendly Udo’s Choice Ultimate Oil Blend being a great all-round option.
Avoiding histamine-rich foods is part of a nutritional support plan too, so be careful around mature cheese, red wine, shellfish and most depressingly of all, chocolate!