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Nipping Seasonal Allergies in the Bud!


Spring is a beautiful time of year…we have longer days, more sunshine, blossom, birdsong, blue skies and the promise of Summer. Unfortunately, Spring also brings along seasonal allergies that make life miserable for many people. In the UK, up to 1 in 4 people suffer from seasonal allergies, so if that is you the information here will hep you understand what is happening in your body and how to reduce the discomfort.

Too much histamine?

People who have seasonal allergies complain of runny eyes, eczema, congestion, headaches, wheezing or asthma attacks. These symptoms are caused by histamine, which is a chemical released by the body to create an inflammatory response that will ward off attackers such as pollen, spores, mould or dust. That is why over-the-counter anti-histamines offer temporary relief from the symptoms we associate with seasonal allergies.

Foods can also contain histamine, so if you are experiencing seasonal allergies, it makes sense to reduce the amount of histamine-rich foods you are eating. Although there is no such thing as a “histamine-free diet”, it can really help to eat less foods that have high levels of histamine![i] Try to avoid inflammatory foods with lots of sugar or foods that are processed and reduce the amount of alcohol, tomatoes and yoghurt and fermented foods as they are all high in histamine. I find this is a good resource for identifying foods that are high in histamine and keeping a food diary to find foods that ease your seasonal discomfort.


What foods help with seasonal allergies?

I always say that good health starts with nutrition! First of all, remember to eat a well-balanced diet with lots of dark green, leafy vegetables and lots of fresh protein (be careful not to leave food unrefrigerated for too long because the histamine level in protein increases as it ages). You might also like to include more vitamins and minerals such as flaxseed oil (take 1 tablespoon daily and remember to keep it in the fridge!), Bioflavonoids and a good multivitamin. Milk thistle (Silybum Marianum) can also help reduce inflammation and allergies and it also supports liver function. Foods such as onions, apples, berries and buckwheat tea are high in quercetin which has been shown to reduce histamine release.  Vitamin C, probiotics, B-vitamins and anti-inflammatory herbs such as Boswellia and Curcumin have also been shown to be helpful!

To find natural relief from allergies, try to eat raw local honey (local honey will contain local pollen which can relieve symptoms), probiotics, fresh organic vegetables, free-range and grass-fed meats. You might also like to try these home-remedies that have worked for some people: sip one or two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar mixed into a glass or water or have a cup of nettle leaf tea which can provide natural allergy relief. Finally, make sure to drink lots of water to keep hydrated!

Normally, I would recommend bone broth because it is wonderful at regenerating poor gut health which is often the root cause of many allergies. However, bone broth can also be high in histamine, so it may not be the best time to drink lots of bone broth when you are suffering from seasonal allergies.

If your symptoms are severe, you might like to try an elimination diet so you can pinpoint foods that set off your allergies. To start the diet, cut out the following foods for 3-6 weeks:

  • Gluten
  • Dairy
  • Soy
  • Refined sugar
  • Corn
  • Alcohol
  • Peanuts
  • All packaged and/or processed foods
  • Eggs

Using the pulse challenge test, you can gradually introduce some of these foods back into your diet monitor how your body reacts and try to recognise which foods increase your allergies. This may sound like a bore, but try to think of it as a short-term challenge that will give you helpful feedback about what your body needs and what can help it regenerate and heal best!  Keeping a food and symptoms diary can also be very helpful.

Boost your immune system

The most important thing is to concentrate on dealing with the root cause of your allergies and not just the symptoms. So, instead of simply relying on antihistamines, corticosteroids and decongestants, remember that there can be other problems that need to be addressed.

One common problem is the gut which I have written about before because up to 70% of the immune system is in the gut or gut-associated lymphoid tissue.[ii] I often see clients who have issues such as leaky gut or celiac disease as well as troublesome seasonal allergies. Did you know that certain opportunistic bacteria in the gut, such as Klebsiella for example, can also release histamine?  This is when a stool analysis can be helpful. Amazingly, once we have addressed their gut issues their allergies also disappear. This is more evidence that a healthy gut is also a healthy body!

Another way to boost your immune system is to reduce stress. It is important to reduce the amount of stress on our bodies by prioritising regular exercise and adequate sleep. Inadequate sleep can increase inflammation in the body exacerbating seasonal allergies and contributing to chronic disease.


Enjoy Spring and Summer!

Remember, it is important to listen to your body so that you can make the right choices in dealing with your seasonal allergies. Even though it is important to make changes to your diet and lifestyle, it is also important to enjoy what we eat as well. Having an 80/20 rule when it comes to diet is a popular idea at the moment and I think it is very sensible! It means that 80% of your diet should reflect the healthy goals you want to achieve and 20% can be much more relaxed. So, if your 20% looks like enjoying a glass of white wine or an ice-cream in the sun, you should go ahead and enjoy that!

Every blessing,



Emma Maitland-Carew – Registered Nutritional Therapist

Dip.ION, mBANT, CHNC Registered Practitioner,

Metabolic Balance® Coach, HeartMath Coach.


[i] Kohn, Jill Balla, “Is There a Diet for Histamine Intolerance?”, Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics , Volume 114 , Issue 11 , 1860.


[ii] Vighi, G et al. “Allergy and the gastrointestinal system.” Clinical and experimental immunology vol. 153 Suppl 1,Suppl 1 (2008): 3-6.

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