When pollen is flying through the air on a spring or summer breeze, foods that reduce allergy symptoms can be a lifesaver. Eating specific compounds—such as the FoodTrients omega-3 fatty acids, curcumin, gingerol, oleuropein, and quercitin, as well as probiotics—go a long way toward reducing the swelling of nasal passages and the production of antihistamines.
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in large, deep-water fish, whole grains, and nuts. You can also take omega-3 supplements daily to help fight inflammation. Curcumin is an ingredient of the spice turmeric. I have a few recipes using turmeric if you need some ideas for how to use this spice most commonly found in curry powders.
Gingerol is an anti-inflammatory found in ginger. I love adding fresh, grated (peeled) ginger to stir-fries and chicken soup. Candied ginger is delicious when steeped in hot tea. Oleuropein (aka oleic acid), another anti-inflammatory, is found in olives and olive oil. Make a habit of sautéing vegetables in olive oil, adding it to soups, and drizzling it over salads to get your daily dose. Skin inflammation from bug bites or sunburns can be treated topically with olive oil or flaxseed oil. Aloe vera works wonders to fight skin redness and inflammation, too.
Probiotics fight allergies by providing bacteria helpful to the digestive tract. The digestive tract is a big part of our immune system. Probiotics occur naturally in yogurt and other fermented, unpasteurized foods, such as homemade pickles, sauerkraut, and kimchi. See my recipe for Atchara Pickle below. You can also get probiotics from kombucha drinks: naturally carbonated beverages with a zingy, somewhat sour flavor. Kombucha beverages might take some getting used to, but they can aid digestion and fight allergic inflammation.
The old adage about an apple a day is really true for allergy sufferers. Apples contain quercitin, which supports the immune system, reduces inflammation, and may reduce allergic sensitivity. Quercitin is found not only in apples (especially their skins), but also in chia seeds, onions, broccoli, citrus, and kale.
If you suffer from any food allergies or sensitivities, those can intensify your seasonal allergy symptoms. If you’re not sure, it’s best to avoid the most common food triggers (dairy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, seafood, wheat, spinach, and berries) as well as artificial food colorings and plants in the nightshade family (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, tomatillos, chili peppers, bell peppers, tobacco, and wolfberries), at least until the pollen counts subside.
My Apple Barley Salad with Honey-Lime Dressing recipe has the power of quercitin and omega-3 fatty acids. My Pear and Apple Tart recipe (featured in my AGE GRACEFULLY Cookbook) not only has quercitin from the apples but also provides omega-3s from the pecans and anti-inflammatory power from cinnamon. A daily serving of yogurt should help, too (unless you’re allergic to milk). Try making a dish of whole-wheat pasta with onions, garlic, and broccoli sautéed in olive oil for allergic relief (unless you suffer from celiac disease, in which case you should use gluten-free pasta). My Whitefish with Turmeric recipe (see below) supplies you with omega-3 oils and curcumin. Both go a long way toward reducing allergic inflammation. What a tasty way to fight allergy symptoms!
Whitefish with Turmeric
1/3 cup Fresh Turmeric Juice
2 Tbs. mirin (seasoned rice wine)
Sea salt and ground pepper to taste
2 lb. tilapia fillets
3-4 beaten medium eggs
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2-3 Tbs. olive oil
- To make the marinade, combine the turmeric juice, mirin, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
- Marinate the fillets in a covered dish in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
- Drain fillets from marinade and set aside. Add the reserved marinade to the eggs. Stir to combine.
- Dredge the fillets in the flour, then dip in the egg mixture.
- Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add fillets and cook until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes on each side.
This is basically an algio e olio (garlic and oil) recipe made more healthful with whole-wheat pasta, which ensures you get fiber and selenium. The garlic and olive oil provide anticancer and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Whole- Wheat Garlic Noodles
6 cups water
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 lb. whole-wheat noodles
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. chopped garlic
- Boil the water in a large stockpot with the salt and garlic powder.
- Add the noodles and cook to desired tenderness. Drain and set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add the noodles to the pan and toss until coated and heated through.
When I was a teenager in the Philippines, my mom and I would make atchara. This sweet and sour pickle is made with green, unripe papayas and other vegetables. My mom made carrot florets to add beauty and color to the pickle. Eaten with grilled pork or fried fish, atchara is considered a national dish of the Philippines. In America, I like to eat it with BBQ, grilled meat, and smoked fish. Papaya and jicama are rich in fiber, which helps regulate cholesterol and aids in weight loss. Vinegar can lower blood sugar and may also help with weight loss because it helps you feel full and more satisfied.
8 cups coarsely grated green papaya (or cucumber if you can’t find green papaya)
1/4 cup coarse salt
8-10 cloves of garlic (from one head), peeled
1/4 cup julienned fresh ginger
1/2 cup pearl onions, peeled
1/2 cup red bell pepper strips
1/2 cup green bell pepper strips
1/2 cup carrot florets or strips
1/2 cup jicama strips
3 cups white balsamic vinegar (champagne or seasoned rice vinegars will also work)
2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup white sugar (for a sweet-and-sour pickle, double the sugar)
- Place the papaya shreds in a colander and sprinkle with the coarse salt. Allow to sit for 15 minutes.
2. Make the pickling solution by combining ingredients in a porcelain or glass pan (don’t use a metal pot) and simmering for 10 minutes or until all the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
3. Squeeze any remaining water out of the papaya shreds. Toss together with the remaining vegetables and place into wide-mouth pickling jars.
4. Pour the cooled pickling solution over the vegetables. If the solution is too warm, the vegetables will cook. Top off the jars with water if necessary so that the vegetables are completely covered. Close jars tightly and put in the refrigerator overnight to cure.
Reduce inflammatory process in cells, tissues, and blood vessels, helping to slow aging and reduce risk of long-term disease.
Prevents and repairs oxidative damage to cells caused by free radicals.
Support the body’s resistance to infection and strengthen immune vigilance and response.
Improves mood, memory, and focus.
Reduces risk factors for common degenerative and age-related diseases.