Monday, April 18, 2011

Supporting Your Health During Allergy Season

By Keri Marshall, MS, ND
For many people, after a long hard winter, the budding of trees and spring flowers is a greatly anticipated time of year. However, for allergy sufferers, it can be an unwelcome time as sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes prevail. Being proactive with your health during allergy season can help prevent most symptoms and make springtime a time to be outdoors planting your garden and enjoying some warm sunshine.

During allergy season, the body has a tendency to produce higher levels of histamine. Histamine is a neurotransmitter that is released from mast cells when the body is exhibiting an allergic reaction or immune response. Histamine dilates blood vessels and increases blood vessel permeability. This can lead to visual signs in the body such as localized swelling, warmth, and redness. Histamine also irritates nerve endings that can lead to itching and pain. The bump and redness immediately following a mosquito bite is a good example of this reaction, which can occur seconds after the body is challenged by an allergen. If you are a person whose body “overreacts” to bug bites, then it is likely your body has a tendency towards inflammation and allergy.

You can do several things to support your body in an effort to normalize histamine levels and regulate overall bodily inflammation. Berries such as blueberries, cherries, and raspberries as well as mango contain a good amount of bioflavonoids. These phytochemicals help to stabilize mast cells in the body and decrease overall histamine response, thus reducing inflammation.

The nettle plant is a perennial herb well known for its stinging hairs on the stem and leaf. Nettle leaf has a great number of naturally occurring nutrients, including chlorophyll, protein, ascorbic acid, calcium, magnesium, vitamin K1, potassium, and zinc. These nutrients work together to promote the health of skin, bones and joints as well as encouraging a healthy immune and respiratory system. Nettle leaf also contains flavonoids such as quercitin and rutin that help maintain healthy levels of histamine in the body by increasing histamine efficiency.

Also, try taking a daily dose of vitamin C during allergy season. Research shows that 1 gram a day can help reduce overall histamine levels in the body. There are also a number of foods that tend to increase histamine levels in the body such a0s strawberries, tomato, chocolate, wine, bananas, and shellfish. These foods should be limited or avoided altogether during allergy season.

Lastly, try using a HEPA air filter. It can reduce dust in your home’s main living areas as well as eliminate circulating pollen that enters through open windows. Be sure to keep windowsills wiped down in the bedroom and sweep under the bed. Keep in mind: the bedroom should be the most dust-free room, as this is where you will have the most concentrated period of breathing throughout the day!

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*This information is for educational purpose only. It is not meant to diagnose or cure a disease.

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