GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- It's the time of year when tissues and Claritin are front and center in stores. Before reaching for the pills, some health professionals say a diet change may help those spring-time sniffles.
Suffering from allergies and eating on-the-go could probably be the worst thing you can do if you're suffering from allergies here in West Michigan. Kelly Hassberger, a naturopathic doctor at Grand Rapids Natural Health explains, “Spring is probably the worst of it because we have the freeze, and then everything blooms and things come out all at once.”
Basically, it's an "allergy tsunami" every spring. While that idea may spark feelings of stuffy noses and runny eyes, Hassberger says the tummy is what people should treat first.
“What a lot of people don’t know, is that 80% of your immune system actually lives in your GI (gastrointestinal) track, which is one of the areas that we abuse often with foods that we eat.”
Some of us are more guilty of eating poorly than others...especially when you love all things cheese. But cheese could cause big problems when it comes to your sinuses.
“Dairy, like yogurt, is actually a really heavy mucous producing food," explains Hassberger. "If you’re in the middle of an allergy flare and you eat a lot of cheese or yogurt or milk etc., it can actually worsen your symptoms.”
If limiting dairy by trying alternative products, Hassberger says to check the label before you buy. Some brands use milk products, but are labeled as vegetarian.
Key ingredients in over-the-counter allergy medicines like antihistamines and anti-inflammatories can be found naturally in foods like oranges, peppers, broccoli and kale. Hassberger warns you not to expect to eat one serving of those and feel better right away though. It takes a while to get your body up to allergy-fighting speed.
“If you think about eating those foods year-round and you start pumping your body full of vitamin C and nutrients, or you start supporting your body overall and decreasing inflammation over all, then you might find that the next allergy season, your allergy symptoms are better, in general.”