A Plant-based diet will address allergies and overcome sensitivities
Plant-based diets provide an opportunity to address allergies.
An allergy is the body’s reaction to either an environmental trigger, such as pollen, dust, or mold, or certain foods when they are inhaled or ingested. Symptoms can include nasal congestion, runny nose, coughing, sneezing, watery/itchy eyes, rashes, an upset stomach, constipation, or diarrhea. More severe symptoms can include swelling of the throat, trouble breathing, hives, and throwing up.
Regardless of the type of allergies you have, there are actions physicians and allergists recommend to alleviate the symptoms:
1. Follow a whole-food, plant-based diet containing fresh vegetables (especially beets and dark leafy greens like kale and swiss chard), fruits, unrefined whole grains (i.e., oats, quinoa, barley, brown rice, and rye), legumes (i.e., lentils, moong dal, and navy beans), and nuts to boost the immune system. Have warm, cooked whole foods throughout the day.
Plant-based foods are high in vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Additionally, a plant-based diet is high in fiber and helps stabilize blood sugar and ward off hormonal shifts. The fiber also feeds good gut microbes, which reduces inflammation. The decreased inflammation helps rest and refocus the immune system to deal with the allergies more effectively.
2. Hydrate! Drink more fluids, as this will help thin the mucus in the nasal passage. Hot fluids are especially soothing as the steam helps open up the nasal passage. Drink one to two glasses of warm water upon awakening. For consumption throughout the day, mix hot water with lemon, honey, and ½ teaspoon of the spice turmeric. Alternatively you can add Vitamin C 1,000mg powder to the water.
Vegetable juice made from dark green leafy vegetables and beets, mixed with a vegetable protein powder is full of antioxidants and tons of nutrients. You can also drink nettle leaf tea every few hours to relieve acute allergy symptoms.
3. Certain herbs and supplements such as spirulina, eyebright, and golden seal can boost your immune system and help fight allergy symptoms. Butterbur is a strong antihistamine that can successfully reduce airway inflammation.
4. Inhaling steam is an ideal way to loosen up the mucus and ease breathing. A warm shower may be sufficient, or you can prepare a steam bowl: fill a bowl with hot, steaming water. Drape a towel over your head to trap the steam, while you breathe slowly and deeply through your nose. You can also add a drop of eucalyptus oil to the water. Try the steam treatment several times a day.
5. Avoid cigarette smoke, aerosol fumes, and smoke from a wood-burning fireplace, as these can aggravate the allergy symptoms.
For food allergies, the most effective way to address it is to eliminate the foods responsible. If you’re not sure what is causing the allergic reactions, get tested for allergies, consider an elimination diet, and consult a doctor.
Elimination diets are considered the gold standard for identifying food intolerances, sensitivities and allergies. They remove certain foods known to cause uncomfortable symptoms and reintroduce them one at a time at a later time while testing for symptoms. It typically lasts about 6 weeks and is used to identify which foods are contributing to symptoms.
Allergies based on environmental triggers
For allergies based on environmental triggers, such as allergies from pollen or hay fever, there are additional actions that can help:
1. Keep the windows and doors of your house and car closed and keep indoor air free from allergy triggers. To do this, use an air purifier or install air filters (in heating and air conditioning systems) in your home. These devices can reduce triggers 90% to 95%.
2. If you’ve been outside, your clothes, shoes, hair, and skin are covered with tiny particles. Leave your shoes at the door and immediately take a shower to wash the particles off. Put on clean clothes.
3. Use a mask when you mow or rake the lawn, and vacuum your house. A respirator mask can block 95% of small particles. Use HEPA filters in your vacuum cleaner and be sure to change these filters regularly.
4. Stay away from chemicals when cleaning the house. Harsh chemicals irritate the nasal passage and aggravate allergy symptoms. Use natural alternatives made from vinegar and baking soda.
5. Try doing a saline nasal rinse, as it can do wonders for a stuffy nose. It cleans the mucus from the nose, rinses away bacteria, and decreases postnasal drip. You can either use an over-the-counter saline nasal spray, or make your own saline solution. To do this, mix ¼ teaspoon of salt, 1/8 teaspoon baking soda, and one cup of warm, sterilized water. Gently flush one nostril at a time, using a Neti pot or similar device. Do the nasal rinse once or twice a day.
The health benefits of eating plant-based include: