Laura Borinsky, Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, IIN Contributing Editor
The arrival of spring means warmer weather, trips to the farmers’ market, and longer days. But for many, it can also mean seasonal allergies. Some of the most irritating symptoms can include itchy eyes, sneezing, and congestion. It’s hard to enjoy frolicking in the grass when your nose won’t stop running!
The first step to tackling spring allergies is to understand what causes them.
Allergies occur when your immune system overreacts to an external but harmless factor – in this case, pollen. As spring approaches, there’s more pollen in the air. In an effort to fight the pollen, your body produces histamine, which then causes your allergy symptoms.
If your immune system is already compromised, your body will try to defend itself from even the slightest invasion, meaning it will produce more histamine. But if your immune system is supported and balanced, it’s less likely to overreact when it encounters something foreign but ultimately harmless, like pollen.
While over-the-counter antihistamine medications may provide short-term relief, they can also come with irritating side effects and fail to address the underlying issues. Below are five tips for supporting your immune system and keeping seasonal allergies at bay, so you can actually enjoy the warmer days ahead.
Apple Cider Vinegar
This simple kitchen staple has a seemingly endless list of benefits. Not only does it boost your immune system, it can help break up mucus and cleanse your lymphatic system. If you don’t love the taste, try mixing a tablespoon of ACV with a splash of lemon juice and some local honey. Or just add some to your favorite homemade salad dressing recipe – you might not even notice it’s there!
Over 70% of your immune system is in your gut. As you now know, a healthy immune system is the key to combating seasonal allergies. By taking a high-quality probiotic and adding gut-healing foods to your diet, you can give your immune system the support it needs. Check out some of our favorite gut-healing foods here!
Local honey contains the same local pollens that are triggering your allergy symptoms. The idea behind this approach is similar to getting a flu shot or other vaccine. By consuming small amounts of local honey, you can help your body build a tolerance to the pollen, so over time you’ll have less of an allergic response to the particular pollens in your area.
A traditional Ayurvedic cleansing practice, a neti pot is a great way to “spring clean” your nasal cavity. By rinsing your nasal cavity with warm distilled water and a saline solution, you can help clear your sinuses of allergens and relieve congestion.
Another oldie but goodie, nettles have been used for centuries to beat a variety of ailments. Studies show they’re particularly helpful for combating seasonal allergies by helping reduce the amount of histamine that your body produces, meaning fewer symptoms and more time to enjoy the warm weather!