Hay fever is a seasonal allergy triggered by the inhalation of pollen or,
less commonly, molds. Medically known as seasonal or allergic rhinitis, the
popular name of hay fever is a misnomer. Although symptoms may occur during
the haying season, hay itself is not the culprit, nor is there a fever.
Ragweed is one of the most common offenders, but in susceptible people,
tree, grass, and flower pollens can also cause the sneezing, runny nose,
tearing eyes, itchiness, and other hay fever symptoms. In general, these
symptoms are more irritating than serious. this is not the case for people
with asthma, however; for them, hay fever can provoke repeated, sometimes
Stay away from foods in the sunflower plant family. Although foods
aren't ordinarily associated with hay fever, people with certain types of
seasonal allergies may experience symptoms after eating particular foods.
For example, plants in the sunflower, or Compositae, family have antigens
that cross-react with members of the Ambrosiaceae family, which includes
ragweed. Thus, a person whose hay fever symptoms are triggered by ragweed
may react to ingestion of any of a broad variety of herbs and vegetables in
the sunflower family.
Watch out for honey. Contaminants or pollens in some foods can
also trigger the onset of hay fever symptoms. This is especially true of
honey, which may harbor bits of pollen, and bee pollen capsules, a food
supplement and natural remedy that is sold in health-food stores.
Eat more omega-3s. There is no special diet that will alleviate
hay fever symptoms, although some recent reports suggest that eating fatty
fish and other foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the
inflammation that is part of an allergic reaction. More research is
necessary to confirm this; in the meantime, consumption of fish is still an
important part of a varied and balanced diet.
MOLD AS THE CULPRIT
In some people seasonal allergies are triggered by mold spores instead of
(or in addition to) pollen. Typically, these people suffer a flare-up of hay
fever symptoms when it is cool and damp: usually, beginning in the spring,
improving somewhat during the summer, and then worsening again during the
damp fall season. Although most mold spores are outdoors, some also grow in
dark, moist indoor areas, especially in basements, shower stalls,
refrigerator drip trays, air conditioners, and garbage cans. Symptoms
generally occur after inhaling the spores, but in some people eating foods
and beverages that harbor molds also provokes a flare-up.
Items that should be avoided
• Alcoholic beverages, especially
beer, wine, and other drinks made by fermentation processes.
• Breads made with lots of yeast
or the sour-dough varieties.
• Cheeses, especially blue
• Dried fruits, including raisins
and others that are allowed to dry outdoors.
• Mushrooms of all kinds.
• Processed meats and fish,
including hot dogs, sausages, and smoked fish.
• Sauerkraut and other fermented
or pickled foods, including soy sauce.
• Vinegar and products made with
it: salad dressings, mayonnaise, ketchup, and pickles.