Hay fever: Cheese and milk could be making your symptoms worse – a dietician’s warning

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Dietitian Lola Biggs reckons what we eat and drink can play a big part in easing hay fever symptoms, or making them worse. So what does she recommend? “Dairy products like cheese and milk, along with grains, can stimulate the production of mucus in the nose, making blocked noses and ears worse,” Biggs explained. It is for this reason Biggs suggests to “steer clear of strong, aged cheeses, as these are higher in histamine”.

If you can’t do without cheese, then cottage cheese, ricotta, and mozzarella would be the more suitable options as “they have less histamine levels”.

Histamine, the NHS noted, causes the typical symptoms associated with an allergic reaction.

The immune response causes small blood vessels to expand and the surrounding skin to become red and swollen.

Moreover, nerves in the skin are affected thereby leading to itchiness, and the amount of mucus in the nose lining is increased.

Biggs added: “When it comes to milk, I’d suggest cutting down on cow’s milk and try soya, almond or even coconut milk instead.”

The latter alternatives to cow’s milk “contain medium-chain triglycerides and can have an anti-inflammatory effect”.

Sugar and processed foods can also cause the body to produce more histamine, which can worsen symptoms.

Biggs cautioned: “Drinking alcohol can add a burden to the liver, whose job it is to clear histamine from the body.

“Darker drinks like beer, cider and red wine are higher in histamines, which can exacerbate symptoms.”

Should you still fancy an alcoholic tipple, Biggs recommends switching to clear spirits, such as vodka or gin, or sulphite-free wines.

Foods to ease hay fever symptoms

Biggs said: “It’s a good ides to increase your intake of antioxidants and bioflavonoids.”

Good examples include foods rich in vitamin C, such as: kale, broccoli, kiwis, blackcurrants, and blueberries.

“These can help boost your immune system and are good anti-inflammatory agents,” Biggs stated.

“Beta carotene rich foods can also help relieve symptoms such as butternut squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, and dark leafy greens like spinach.”

Biggs emphasised that spices can be helpful in reducing hay fever symptoms too, especially ginger and turmeric.

“Sip ginger or turmeric tea, or take a natural supplement, to help ease hay fever symptoms,” Biggs advised.

“Choose a supplement with black pepper or piperine, as this has been shown to increase the bioavailability of curcumin,” Biggs continued.

“I would also suggest taking magnesium as this acts like an antihistamine and CoQ10, as this helps reduce the chemical reaction to an allergen.

“Together Health offer both magnesium and CoQ10 supplements that are plant-based, allergen-free, and vegan friendly.”

Lola Biggs is a registered dietician at Together Health.

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