Spring is in full bloom (literally), and along with the floral delights—signaling we're only a couple months shy of summer—come seasonal allergies manifesting themselves in full swing. Whether incessant sneezing, a sore throat, or puffy eyes have got you down, chances are you're making your ailments worse in an unexpected way. It turns out your diet could be exacerbating the situation. Yep, even if you don't have any known food allergies, what you're eating could be contributing to how much you're suffering from springtime allergies.
Clifford Bassett, MD, author of The New Allergy Solution: Supercharge Resistance, Slash Medication, Stop Suffering, shared his expertise on foods that make your allergies worse with Mindbodygreen. Bassett notes that individuals who suffer from seasonal allergies can be more sensitive to certain foods during allergy season—a phenomenon known as oral allergy syndrome, or OAS. "OAS is characterized by an itchiness in the mouth and throat after eating certain pollen-interactive foods and is most common in people who suffer from seasonal tree pollen allergy, notable to 'birch pollen,'" he explains.
While for most OAS sufferers, the reaction is mild and typically corrects itself once the food is digested, the discomfort can be avoided by steering clear of foods known for triggering the symptoms. To help you survive the rest of spring, we've highlighted Bassett's roundup of no-no foods and then had an allergy expert weigh in on what you should be eating instead.
Keep scrolling to study up on a precise list of foods to avoid if seasonal allergies are a problem and see recommendations for foods that can help your allergies below.
Pitted fruit can prove precarious for individuals who suffer from seasonal allergies. Apples, apricots, nectarines, peaches, and pears are best left consumed at a minimum. You may also want to avoid melons such as cantaloupe, honeydew, and even watermelon during this time.
"Fruits aren't the only foods that can aggravate allergy symptoms," warns Bassett. Healthy vegetables can trigger OAS symptoms as well, particularly bell peppers, carrots, celery, cucumber, and Swiss chard. Get your greens elsewhere for a while until the allergies pass.
While pollen counts are high, Bassett describes how certain spices, herbs, and seeds "can all induce unpleasant itchiness of the mouth and throat." Coriander, cumin, dill, fennel, and parsley are some examples of spice-rack staples that could be worsening your reactions.
What to Eat Instead
To determine what foods could help our seasonal allergies, we reached out to Tonya Winders, CEO and president of Allergy & Asthma Network. "Seasonal allergies are often a result of your body producing inflammation to certain triggers such as grass and tree pollens or ragweed," she explains. "We also now know that foods can play a critical role in increasing and decreasing inflammation in the body."
While the foods Bassett lists above can trigger said inflammation, other foods can help to curb it. Winders recommends that you "add these items to your plate to help reduce inflammation in your system": fatty fish, whole grains, leafy greens, nuts, soy, low-fat dairy, peppers, tomatoes, beets, ginger, turmeric, onions, garlic, olive oil, berries, and cherries. With Bassett's and Winders's lists in mind, you should also take note of what foods seem to react poorly with your system. "It is always important to remember to avoid any foods you know may cause an allergic reaction based on your personal history," notes Winders. So listen to your body and give it the foods that make it happy.
Next up, find out how one Byrdie editor cured her allergies without taking pills.
Muluk NB, Cingi C. Oral allergy syndrome. Am J Rhinol Allergy. 2018;32(1):27‐30. doi:10.2500/ajra.2018.32.4489
American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology. Oral allergy syndrome (OAS) or pollen fruit syndrome (PFS).