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5 Natural ways to combat Hay fever

Hay fever is common in the UK as it affects around 1 in 5 people at some stage in their lives. The latest survey from Allergy UK shows that allergies including hay fever are currently on the rise with up to 30 -35 % of people being affected at some stage in their lives.
Hay fever symptoms or seasonal allergies usually occur from late March to October depending on the particular allergen we suffer from. Tree pollen is released during spring; grass pollen is released towards the end of spring and the beginning of summer while weed pollen is released in late autumn. Many can suffer from more than one type of pollen allergen, and may therefore suffer from hay fever for the whole season. During those particular months, the weather is warm, humid and windy and this is when pollen count is at its highest.
Symptoms occur due to a release of a chemical mediator known as ‘Histamine’ by the immune system in response to the substance or stimuli the body is allergic to. They may range from being a nuisance, to a real disruption during an otherwise normal day. Symptoms include but are not limited to:
• Sneezing
• Coughing
• Runny/Blocked nose
• Red/Watery /Itchy eyes
• Puffy eyes associated with a swelling of the nasal membrane (the membranes around the nose)
• Loss of Smell
• Pain around the Forehead
• Post Nasal Drip (caused by an excessive amount of mucus accumulated in the throat or back of the nose)
Supporting your body’s natural defences is important not simply during hay fever season but all year round. A healthy body is dependent on a strong immune system which is very much affected by a healthy gut and general lifestyle factors. It is also well researched that those who experience seasonal allergies are classified under the broad medical category of being ‘atopic’. In other words, they have a predisposition towards developing certain allergic hypersensitivity reactions.
The simple dietary and lifestyle measures listed below can support our sensitivity to allergens and similarly support our defences against flare ups from conditions like asthma or eczema

5 Natural Ways to combat Hay Fever

1. Fix your diet with Antioxidants
Fruits, herbs and vegetables are naturally high in antioxidants, fibre, vitamins and minerals. Specific plant antioxidants like carotenoids, polyphenols and bioflavonoids are known to support the immune system. Latest research has also been focussing on the immune supporting benefits from another group of plant compounds referred to as ‘anthocyanins’. They provide a punchy red-purple colour to fruit and vegetables like elderberry, purple corn, purple cabbage, beetroot, pomegranate, purple potato or goji berries. They can be purchased whole and added to your dishes or some bought in concentrated powders that can be added to smoothies or your breakfast bowl. Spread your servings throughout the day with the aim of reaching a total of 10 servings.

2. Modify the Histamine production
Removing refined sugars from the diet may help, as research finds that refined sugars found in table sugar, cakes, candy and so on cause a blood sugar spike and can activate the release of histamine in the blood stream. Cut down on coffee, as caffeine also contributes to a release in histamine which can make your symptoms worst and cause skin irritations. Sugar is classified as an ‘immuno-suppressant’ so give time for your immune system to work properly by cutting those down. Watch out for fruits and dried fruits naturally high in sugar as well such as figs or prunes. Alcohol will also contribute to a blood sugar spike so keep that in mind.

3. Support your Digestive Health
Top up on those foods that support bacterial growth or contribute to it in a positive way. Fibre in the forms of wholegrains, legumes, oats, fruits and leafy greens. In addition to fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kombu, wakame or nori. Avoid processed foods which knock our essential nutrients from our gut. Try out chicory which is naturally high in ‘inulin’, a prebiotic that is great for a healthy gut. A healthy gut will support a healthy immune system

4. Eliminate Stress
Stress zaps out our vitamin C levels whilst also impacting on our immune system and we all know that when we are then under attack from allergens, we will be too weak to fight back. Symptoms of hay fever or other allergies may then be worst or take forever to disappear. So make sure you sleep about 8 hours a day, choose stress reducing activities such as walking, pilates, or simply reading a book and find time to take care of yourself and be with your loved ones. When under less stress, the body can naturally better manage inflammatory reactions. Work out your balance between work and life and adjust where needed by being more efficient with your day.

5. Supplement
If you still struggle, supplement with a good B vitamin. B6 in particular helps to control the histamine production. Nettle herbal extract on a daily basis can also help to support our reaction to allergens. Zinc found in meat, seafood, nuts and seeds are found to help stop the production of histamine from specific cells in the body. Supplement if you still struggle with 10 to 15mg of zinc citrate daily. Chamomile is useful in reduced sore and itchy eyes, by soaking two pads of cotton wool in a chamomile infusion and place on the eyelids for about 10 minutes. Bromelain is a natural digestive enzyme found in pineapple and also found as supplements. It has shown to reduce breathing difficulties experienced and the inflammation in the airways by 85 % in clinical studies. Omega-3 fatty acids can also help to reduce the inflammation in the nasal passages and ease the symptoms. Last but not least, Vitamin C is also a potent immune-stimulant and anti-inflammatory supplement

Ultimate facts about Omegas

essentialfatsOmega 3 Fats are essential fatty acids required for health and are required by the body to make anti-inflammatory hormones, known as the prostaglandin series 3. There are 2 ways to obtain Omega 3 in your diet. Plant sources of Omega-3, come from Alpha-Linoleic acid (ALA) which the body then converts to DHA and EPA, before use. It is important to note that we need a consume a considerable amount of dietary sources of ALA, as about 90% of us are poor at converting ALA into the required EPA and DHA. The benefit to consuming animal derived sources of Omega 3, is that the body can then immediately utilise the forms of EPA and DHA.

Omega 3 is valuable to health and should be consumed every day. Examples of food sources include oily fish such as mackerel (1422mg DHA/EPA per 100g) and salmon (2018mg DHA/EPA per 100g). For vegetarians and vegans: plant algae like Spirulina contain fair amounts of ALA, depending on the source and brand, herbs (Oregano-4180mg ALA per 100g); nuts (Walnuts -2006 mg ALA per 100g); seeds (Chia Seeds -17552mg ALA per 100g). Don’t forget your nut and seed derived products to top up your intakes (milks, butters, oils). In order for you to obtain most health benefits, the quality and dietary sources are very important and not always easy to adhere to: due to costs, geographical location, and environmental pollutants amongst others. Hence a supplement may be useful!But to choose the best one for you , always get in touch with an expert.

Omega 3 benefits are numerous, but here are my top 5

  • A contribution to normal blood cholesterol levels (ALA), EPA and DHA contribute to the normal function of the heart, and normal blood pressure. EPA and DHA have shown to contribute to normal blood triglyceride levels, when having an intake of over 2 g of EPA/DHA. Triglycerides are fats which are associated with heart disease when present in high levels.
  • Omega 3 is particularly vital for the health of mothers and children. DHA when consumed by the mother contributes to the normal brain and eye development of the foetus and breastfed infants. Essential fatty acids are needed for normal growth and development of children.
  • DHA is needed for normal brain function and vision. Research shows that DHA is important for the formation of the cellular membranes of nerve cells . Ongoing and exciting research is being done on DHA’s involvement in neurodegenerative disorders, so keep up with my blog for updates! DHA is found in the highest concentrations in the retina of the eye. The National Eye Institute is currently looking into whether Omega 3 supplements along with others can help with particular eye conditions.
  • Omega 3 fats are needed to absorb important nutrients such as the fat soluble vitamins, A, D E and K. These vitamins also provide health benefits as part of a varied diet.
  • Omega 3 fats are needed for the production of ‘eicosanoids’, which are signalling molecules involved with healing and repair processes in the body. Several studies have shown the benefits of omega 3 in reducing the effects of the mediators involved in inflammation. Dry eye syndrome has been found to have an inflammatory component, and could possibly benefit from omega 3 supplements.

 

References:

Gerster H. (1998) Can adults adequately convert alpha-linolenic acid (18:3n-3) to eicosapentaenoic acid (20:5n-3) and docosahexaenoic acid (22:6n-3)? Int J Vitam Nutr Res; 68:159-73.

Lui,A. and Ji, J. (2014). Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids Therapy for Dry Eye Syndrome: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Studies. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4165511/ [Accessed on 18.12.2015]

Lee, YH. Bae, SC. And Song, GG. (2012) Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis: a meta-analysis. Available from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22835600 [Accessed on 18.12.2015]

AREDS2 Research Group (2013).Lutein/Zeaxanthin and Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Age-Related Macular Degeneration. The Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2) Controlled Randomized Clinical Trial. Available from: https://nei.nih.gov/ [Accessed on 18.12.2015]

 

Healthy skin starts from within

A diet that is healthy and well balanced will help support the functioning of our organs and metabolic processes that occur in the body, but also help nourish our skin inside and out.

Where specific skin conditions such as psoriasis, acne, eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, fungal skin rashes are concerned, I always aim to look at the root cause of the problem. Imbalances in hormones, immunity, digestion or inflammation often contribute to such skin concerns. The skin’s natural demand for nutrients is also increased when put under stress (for example: excessive inflammation of the skin requires further nutrients such as folic acid and protein).

Topical treatment is often not enough but targeted and individual support in your skincare routine, nutrition and overall wellbeing is required.

When necessary, I  recommend supplements that can either help support your skin and body’s defence mechanisms, speed up the healing process or help promote a glowing and youthful appearance

How can nutrition help ?

  • Support a poorly functioning digestion
  • Support collagen production
  • Identify allergies, intolerances and deficiencies
  • Prevent and slow down skin damage, leading to ageing
  • Support imbalances in hormones
  • Reduce the presence of underlying inflammation
  • Speed the healing process (for example :cold sores can be prevented and healed with a particular amino acid(building block of protein))

How can nutritional deficiencies affect the skin?

  • Lack of antioxidants (A, C, E) can affect the skin’s protection against the damaging UV rays.
  • Vitamin A deficiency can result in a disorder of the cells lining the inside of a hair follicle (aka hyperkeratinisation).This is turn can result in a reduction in sebaceous glands and also block our sweat glands. Long term deficiency in vitamin A also results in dry skin, fragile hair and hyperpigmentation.
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency is linked to skin hyperpigmentation, vitiligo, angular stomatitis (redness and fissures near the angles of the mouth) and hair changes .Deficiency in Vitamin B12, is often due to abnormal absorption.
  • Lacking essential fatty acids has shown to affect the skin’s permeability which in turn can lack moisture.
  • Kwashiokor is a form of malnutrition due to the lack of protein in the diet, causing swelling under the skin. Malnutrition is the primary causative factor, with others including deficiencies in zinc, essential fatty acids and alfatoxins (fungal toxins affecting certain types of crops).
  • Vitamin C deficiency also known as scurvy, is caused by the decreased production and increased fragility of collagen (collagen: protein that stops the ageing process). The skin can show early signs such as bruising, red or purple spots and thickening of the skin.
  • Deficiencies in zinc can cause poor wound healing, fragile or sparse hair, cause dermatitis (skin inflammation) to weep or even lead to secondary infections.

Get in touch to

  • Manage specific conditions
  • Simply promote a youthful glowing skin
  • Skin that is more resistant to signs of aging

 

On the 16th and 30th of September 2015 we will be offering a Skin Analysis Consultation for members of the Royal Automobile Club, followed by a 15 minute chat with me