Whilst most of the population look forward to the arrival of spring and all of nature’s bounties that it brings, for those who suffer with hay fever it is a very different story.
Hay fever (also known as seasonal allergic rhinitis), is a skewed immune reaction to inhaled pollen released from local trees, grasses and flowers.
It is a common condition affecting 10% – 30% of adults and as many as 40% of children.Whilst generally not serious, symptoms (such as sneezing, coughing, itchy, red, watery eyes, blocked or runny nose, loss of smell, itching, headache and tiredness) can be very uncomfortable and significantly impact on quality of life. So what can be done to prevent hay fever ruining your summer? Here are 6 tips for coping with hay fever.
Tips for coping with hay fever – Increase anti-inflammatory foods
As hay fever is essentially an inflammatory condition, following an anti-inflammatory diet, high in anti-oxidants and phytonutrients from colourful fruit and vegetables, and omega 3 fatty acids from oily fish (salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, herring), hemp, flax and chia seeds is recommended.
Tips for coping with hay fever – Track the pollen count in your area
Tracking the pollen count in your area and, where possible, avoiding spending lots of time outdoors when it’s at its highest is likely to reduce exposure and irritation. Keeping windows and doors shut on high pollen days and instead using fans or air con to keep cool is also advisable.
Tips for coping with hay fever – Shower before bed
When you have been outside, showering when you get home and especially before bed will help remove pollen residue from the skin, hair and nasal passages. The may help reduce irritation overnight, helping you to get a better night’s sleep.
Tips for coping with hay fever – Nasal Irrigation
In addition, try irrigating the nasal passages twice a day using a neti-pot and saline solution, to remove pollen residue and help clear any stuffiness.
Tips for coping with hay fever – Look after your gut
Hay fever is caused by an overreaction of the immune system. Around 70% of our immune cells reside in the lining of the digestive tract, and are supported and influenced by a diverse range of gut bacteria. Therefore, looking after your gut is really important to help regulate immune responses and reduce inflammation. Traditionally fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, live yoghurt, miso and kombucha, which contain strains of live bacteria are a great way to give your gut flora additional support.
Tips for coping with hay fever – Take a live bacteria supplement
In addition to nourishing the gut through food, research suggests that live bacteria supplements, such as Bio-Kult Advanced Multi-Strain Formula (£9.25 from www.bio-kult.com), may benefit hay fever sufferers via interactions with the immune system, which modify the natural course of allergic disease.For example,a recent 2017 study found that supplementing with a multi-strain live bacteria formula, containing lactobacilli and bifidobacterium species for 8 weeks, helped to alleviate hay fever symptoms and improved quality of life during allergy season in hay fever sufferers.1 It’s hypothesised that live bacteria supplements may be even more effective, when taken as a preventative measure, so it’s recommended to start supplementation a few months before hay fever season, or to supplement regularly throughout the year.
By Nutritional Therapist Hannah Braye – Bio-Kult
1 Dennis-Wall JC, Culpepper T, Nieves C, et al. Probiotics (Lactobacillus gasseri KS-13, Bifidobacterium bifidum G9-1, and Bifidobacterium longum MM-2) improve rhinoconjunctivitis-specific quality of life in individuals with seasonal allergies: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial. Am J Clin Nutr 2017; 105: 758–67.