You might just need all the help you can get this spring. Mitchell Gaynor, MD, and clinical assistant professor of medicine at New York City’s Weill-Cornell Medical College, says that this year’s pollen vortex (yup, that’s a thing) will make allergy season even worse than usual.
“We had such a harsh, cold winter and there hasn’t been the slow release of pollen into a gradual spring like we usually have,” says Dr. Gaynor. “I think this will be one of the worst allergy seasons in memory.” (Hoard boxes of Kleenex now?)
But there’s actually no need to extend your hibernation straight through until summer, according to Dr. Gaynor’s new book, The Gene Therapy Plan: Taking Control of Your Genetic Destiny with Diet and Lifestyle, out later this month. In it, he explains that even though your maddeningly itchy eyes and runny nose might be genetic, you can get rid of them with vitamins and food.
“You can control allergies with diet,” affirms Dr. Gaynor. “Certain foods work to alter the expression of your genes.” Consider it like the way you alter the expression of your tush with squats.
Here are five nutrients you want to makes sure you’re getting when the sneezing, itchy eyes, and sore throats strike.
1. Magnesium. The mineral “helps open up your airwaves,” Dr. Gaynor says. “You can take 200 mg by supplement or eat magnesium-rich foods like spinach, kale, and sunflower seeds” And if you want to up the ante on your salad, you can even soak in a magnesium-filled bath.
2. Probiotics. Your gut has close ties to your immune system, which means a lot of the same foods benefit both your belly and your sinuses. “It’s a good idea to take a probiotics, but fermented foods, miso, tempeh, low-fat Greek yogurt, and Kefir have also been found help allergies,” Dr. Gaynor says.
3. Vitamin C. Reaching for citrus is a no-brainer when you feel a cold coming on, but vitamin C can also help temper your sniffling, runny nose, and itchy eyes from seasonal allergies. “When you have allergies, your histamine levels are high,” explains Dr. Gaynor. “The vitamin C in citrus like oranges, bell peppers, tomatoes, and peas helps lower the release of histamine and breaks it down quicker.”
4. Bioflavonoids. Stock up on Brussels sprouts, mangoes, garlic, and green tea—Doctor’s orders. The healthy plant-based antioxidants found in these foods “help reduce the amount of histamine your body produces,” Dr. Gaynor says.
5. Quercetin. “This [antioxidant] nutrient helps suppress the part of the immune system that causes allergies, and it reduces histamines,” Dr. Gaynor says, so you want to load up on this one. It’s found in apples (especially Granny Smith), which the doctor recommends daily, plus onions, parsley, and sage. —Molly Gallagher
For more information, visit www.gaynoroncology.com and check out The Gene Therapy Plan: Taking Control of Your Genetic Destiny with Diet and Lifestyle
(Photos, from top: JohnONolan via imcreator.com; foodiesfeed.com)