Fight hayfever with your diet
Hayfever may be triggered by allergies, but it can be helped by getting the right nutrients in your diet.
Question: I suffer from bad hayfever and want to know if there are any special foods or vitamins I would do well to include in my daily diet. Thanks, Joyce. Hi Joyce, hayfever can be a real hassle! Hayfever can be caused by reactions to foods or substances we inhale, typically pollen, grass, dander, dust and other environmental elements. A type of immune cell called a mast cell then releases histamine. Histamine triggers a cascade of inflammation, the symptoms of which can include sneezing, a blocked or runny nose, irritation in the throat and excess mucous production.
The key to reducing hayfever symptoms is to firstly avoid the problematic substance as best you can. You can also use nutrients that are natural anti-histamines and anti- inflammatory agents. One of the best of these is vitamin C.
Studies show that vitamin C with bioflavonoids can reduce the inflammation caused by histamine. Vitamin C and bioflavonoids can be found in citrus fruits, kiwifruit, broccoli and capsicum. You may also like to supplement with vitamin C and bioflavonoids.
The recommended dose to reduce the effects of histamine is 2g of vitamin C and 1500mg of bioflavonoids.
If possible take half the dose in the morning and the other half at night-time.
Quercetin is a flavonol found in sweet potato, broccoli, green tea, and watercress.
Research has established quercetin’s ability to reduce the immune system’s reaction to histamine. A therapeutic dose of quercetin is 600mg three times daily to reduce histamine and inflammation.
Zinc and vitamin A are also important nutrients to care for mucous membranes. These two nutrients stabilise the membrane structure so that it becomes less reactive to histamine, reducing irritation and mucous production.
Zinc is found in oysters, beef, lamb and seeds, such as pumpkin and sunflower. Vitamin A (and beta-carotene) rich foods include liver, sweet potato, carrots, dark leafy greens, and apricots. Try to include some of these foods each day. Question: My son is six years old and he is a very fussy eater. He refuses to eat meat of any kind and potato is the only vegetable he will touch. He is very pale as well. Could he be iron deficient and if so, how do I help him if he won’t eat meat or most other foods that contain any goodness? Thanks
from his very worried mum. Hi Worried Mum, With the symptoms you have provided it is possible that your son could be iron deficient. This is best con- firmed by a blood test done by your GP.
If he is refusing meat and vegetables he will only be getting very small amounts of iron – if any – from other foods. Iron plays a critical role in maintaining a healthy appetite so low iron could be the cause of his disinterest in food. Zinc may also be deficient in his diet, as it is found (almost) solely in oysters, beef, lamb and seeds. Low levels of zinc can alter the taste, texture and smell of food, so this can also have an effect on how much and what kinds of food your son wants to eat.
Continue to offer him foods rich in zinc and iron. Initially, try offering him foods that don’t require him to cut or chew very much. Bolognese made with beef or lamb mince is easy to eat and is rich in iron and zinc. Avoid giving your son iron rich foods at the same meal as dairy products, as calcium reduces the absorption of iron.
Supplementing iron and zinc can be critical in recovering a child’s iron status. Liquid supplements are often best for children.
His iron needs to be tested before supplementing however, and the supplemented dose needs to be prescribed by an experienced health professional.
Have hayfever? It may be helped by getting the right nutrients in your diet.
Email your questions for Dr Libby to ask. drlibby@ fairfax media.co.nz. Please note, only a selection of questions can be answered.