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Allergy diet: what helps against hay fever & co

Watery eyes, itchy nose, constant sneezing - spring and summer can be a challenge for hay fever sufferers. When the immune system goes crazy, the level of suffering is often high. Did you know that taking omega-3 fatty acids or black cumin oil can reduce your symptoms?

Table of contents:
  • How does an allergy develop?
  • What can you do about an allergy
  • Drug therapy
  • Low histamine diet
  • Avoid allergens
  • Tips especially for pollen allergy sufferers
  • Supplement omega-3 fatty acids
  • Which foods contain omega-3 fatty acids
  • Keep an eye on cross-allergies
  • Black cumin oil
  • Desensitization

How does an allergy develop?

The task of the immune system is to fight pathogens such as bacteria or viruses. In the case of an allergy, however, our body's own defenses are directed against harmless substances such as plant pollen or food components. Since the 1970s, allergic reactions have become increasingly common. According to the Robert Koch Institute, more than 30% of adults suffer from at least one allergy in the course of their lives. Hay fever is the most common allergy complaint.

What can you do about an allergy?

An allergy usually lasts a lifetime. Medication is often the only way out. But there are also alternatives! We show you what can help with an allergy.

Drug therapy

Many allergy sufferers resort to medication. Anti-allergic drugs such as antihistamines reduce the symptoms by blocking the receptors for the messenger substance histamine. Histamine causes the typical allergy symptoms such as a runny nose or reddening of the skin.

However, histamine is also an important messenger substance in the central nervous system and is responsible for regulating the appetite and sleep-wake rhythm, among other things. This is why some antihistamines make you tired and are sometimes used in sleeping pills. Other typical side effects are dizziness and headaches. Anyone who suffers from heart, kidney or liver disease, is pregnant or breastfeeding should only take antihistamines after consulting a doctor.

Low histamine diet

To reduce the symptoms of an allergy such as hay fever, it can be helpful to follow a low-histamine diet. Histamine is naturally contained in foods (e.g. in tomatoes or spinach) or is produced by the bacterial breakdown of the amino acid histidine. Foods that are obtained through fermentation or have a long maturing/storage time (e.g. sauerkraut, cheese, sausage, wine or beer) are particularly rich in histamine and should be avoided. Instead, opt for fresh and unprocessed foods.

Avoid allergens

It is not always possible to avoid allergy-causing substances. The easiest way to do this is with food, as allergens must be listed in the list of ingredients. Grasses and pollen are much more difficult to avoid. But here too, there are tips on how to at least reduce contact with allergens.

Tips especially for pollen allergy sufferers


Pollen count calendar

Outdoor activities are a challenge with hay fever. A pollen count calendar (e.g. in app form) can help you to assess the current pollen count and plan your activities accordingly.

Ventilate in the evening

As the pollen count is generally lower in the evening, you should ventilate at this time. Regular vacuuming and mopping also helps to keep pollen levels in the home low.

Shower in the evening

If you suffer from hay fever, it is best to take a shower in the evening and go to bed with washed hair to reduce the pollen load at night and keep your pillow as pollen-free as possible.

Supplement omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are primarily known for their positive effect on our blood vessels and heart health. However, they can also help with allergies and alleviate symptoms. This is due to their anti-inflammatory properties. Omega-3 fatty acids compete with the omega-6 fatty acid arachidonic acid for the enzymes cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase. Arachidonic acid is converted by these two enzymes into messenger substances (prostaglandins and leukotrienes), which play a role in the development of inflammation and allergies. The fewer omega-3 fatty acids are present, the more omega-6 fatty acids can be converted into pro-inflammatory messenger substances. Messenger substances are also formed from omega-3 fatty acids. However, these have an anti-inflammatory effect and therefore have a positive impact on allergic diseases.

Nutrition for inflammatory diseases

Arachidonic acid is mainly found in meat and animal fats or is formed in the body itself from the omega-6 fatty acid linoleic acid. A diet low in arachidonic acid is therefore recommended for inflammatory autoimmune diseases such as rheumatism or multiple sclerosis.

You can read more about this topic in the blog post What you need to know about omega-3 fatty acids.

Which foods contain omega-3 fatty acids? The omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is an essential nutrient. This means that it must be consumed daily through food. Linolenic acid is found in vegetable oils (e.g. rapeseed oil, linseed oil), nuts (e.g. walnuts), chia and linseed, wheat germ and avocado. Our body can form the so-called long-chain omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) from it, which in turn serve as a precursor for anti-inflammatory messenger substances. However, as the conversion of linolenic acid to EPA or DHA is limited, these two long-chain omega-3 fatty acids should also be consumed in the diet. Unfortunately, these are almost exclusively found in oily sea fish or algae. Vegan food supplements such as nutri + omega-3 capsules help to cover the requirement. For a combined intake of omega-3, vitamin D and K, you can take our O3-D3-K2 tablets. Find out more about the product here.

Why plant-based omega-3 is the better choice! The omega-3 content can vary enormously depending on the fish species and farming method. In addition, overfishing and the destruction of marine habitats have catastrophic effects. It therefore makes sense to avoid the detour via fish and use the source of healthy fatty acids directly - algae. Read more about this in this blog post.

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Keep an eye on cross-allergies

Pollen allergy sufferers in particular often have allergic reactions to certain foods or find that these exacerbate their symptoms. A typical example of cross-contamination is birch pollen and apple, as both have a similar allergen structure. Whether and how strong the reaction to certain foods is can vary greatly from person to person. Many foods do not cause any problems when cooked, for example. Ingredients in cosmetics or cleaning products can also aggravate the symptoms.

Black cumin oil

Black cumin (Nigella sativa) was already used as a medicinal plant in ancient Egypt. The essential oils it contains are said to not only help with digestive problems, but also strengthen the immune system and reduce the release of histamine. Scientific studies on bronchial asthma and hay fever indicate that black cumin has an anti-asthmatic and anti-allergic effect. You can also find black cumin oil in our ventilator.

You can find out more about the effects of black cumin oil in the blog post Black cumin: traditional remedy and superfood.

Black cumin seed oil

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Desensitization

Desensitization (also known as hyposensitization) is an allergen-specific immunotherapy in which the immune system is slowly accustomed to the allergen. The aim is to prevent or reduce the occurrence of an allergic reaction. Good results can be achieved with pollen, mite or animal hair allergies. Desensitization is not yet applicable to food allergies. Anyone who decides to take this step should undergo the treatment for three years.

Sources:
Robert Koch Institute 2013, DEGS1 study, survey 2008-2011
AOK health magazine. Desensitization: Becoming allergy-free at last. 05.08.2021
UGB Association for Independent Health Advice. What is histamine and where is it found
S. Chrubasik-Hausmann. Black cumin
https://www.thieme.de/de/naturheilverfahren/allergien-omega-3-fettsaeuren-helfen-44428.htm