Eating the right foods and taking the right supplements will give you bright eyes and a clear nose during hay fever season.
Eating the right foods and taking the right supplements will give you bright eyes and a clear nose during hay fever season.

Eating the right foods and taking the right supplements will give you bright eyes and a clear nose during hay fever season.

Spring is a wonderful time of year: the days are finally longer and warmer; the birds are singing and we all have more energy and go. Problem is, with all those pollens floating around, it’s also hay fever season which leaves many people feeling miserable with streaming eyes and noses and itchy throats. During this period those with heightened allergic potential also tend to suffer more from other allergens such as food allergens. Patrick Holford offers some good medicine solutions to these irritants.


Vitamin C is the most important anti-allergy vitamin. It is a powerful promoter of a strong immune system and it immediately calms down allergic reactions. It is also anti-inflammatory. I recommend everyone takes vitamin C at an absolute minimum of 1 000 mg a day, although 2 000 mg or more is optimum for most people, whether or not you have allergies. If you are suffering from allergic symptoms, you might want to take twice this amount on a regular basis. Vitamin C is flushed out of the body within six hours, and for this reason it is best taken in divided doses, either 1 000 mg in the morning and 1 000 mg at lunch or, if you're taking larger amounts, 1 000 mg four times a day. You also can increase your vitamin C intake through food by eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, although you would have to eat an enormous amount to get up to 2 000 mg. Foods that contain vitamin C typically also contain antioxidant bioflavonoids, such as hesperidin, rutin and quercetin, and these bioflavonoids may actually help the body absorb vitamin C – another good reason to eat vitamin C-rich foods.


Omega-3 fish oils are one of nature's best natural anti-inflammatory nutrients, with countless other benefits besides. Although you can, and should, obtain these from eating unfried, unbreaded fish, I also recommend you supplement omega-3 fish oils every day as an insurance policy. To give you a rough idea, I recommend you take in the equivalent of 1 000 mg of combined eicosap-entaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) a day, or 7 000 mg a week (these are the two most powerful omega-3 fats). A 100g serving of mackerel might give you 2 000 mg, whereas a similar serving of salmon might give you 1 000 mg. If you eat fish three times a week you'll probably achieve 3 500 mg a week. To make up the remaining 3 500 mg, take an omega-3 fish oil supplement providing 500 mg of combined EPA and DHA a day. This is good advice for anyone, even if you're not especially allergic.

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Quercetin is a bioflavonoid and a potent antioxidant that promotes a healthy response to inflammation. Animal studies show that quercetin helps stop excess histamine, which is what causes most of the symptoms in hay fever. One study found that, of all the flavonoids, quercetin was the most effective at inhibiting histamine. The best food sources of quercetin are red onions, apples and berries, but you would be hard pushed to eat more than 20 mg a day. Supplementing therapeutic amounts is therefore necessary if you're suffering with allergies. Take 500 mg three times a day if your symptoms are severe, then drop down to 500 mg once a day once your reaction is under control. This maintenance dose is also effective for reducing your allergic potential. The best results are achieved by supplementing 250 mg twice a day, with some bromelain and vitamin C.

Bromelain is a collection of proteolytic (literally meaning protein breakdown) enzymes found in pineapple stems that have considerable anti-inflammatory and anti-swelling properties. In a double-blind clinical trial, participants given 160 mg of bromelain daily experienced significant improvements in nasal drainage and swelling and restored free breathing, compared to those on a dummy treatment. Take up to 300 mg daily and if you are having an allergic reaction, or 100 mg daily to reduce your allergic potential.

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) has so many benefits for allergy sufferers that it's hard to know where to start. In one study, 55 volunteers diagnosed with seasonal allergies were given 1 300 mg of MSM twice daily for 30 days. A significant reduction in symptoms of both the upper respiratory tract (including nasal congestion) and the lower respiratory tract (including coughing) was seen. As long as you're still suffering from any allergic symptoms it's well worth supplementing MSM on a daily basis. Although therapeutic intakes go up to 6 000 mg a day, I recommend you start with 1 000 mg, or half this if taken in combination with the other anti-allergy nutrients.

Glutamine is an essential part of any regime designed to restore healthy mucous membranes quickly and reduce allergic potential. It is also a powerful nutrient for supporting proper immune function and protecting the liver. As part of a daily anti-allergy regime, take 500 mg.

Some supplements contain combinations of these anti-inflammatory nutrients, so you can take them all in one pill.

Eating the right foods and taking the right supplements will give you bright eyes and a clear nose during hay fever season.


If you are eating foods that you are unknowingly allergic to, your immune system will be primed to react allergically, and grass pollen may be the last straw. The most common food allergens are wheat and milk. Wheat is a kind of grass, and cows make milk from grass. Many people have observed that during the hay fever season avoiding milk and wheat greatly reduces their allergic sensitivity.

Even if you are not allergic, having large amounts of dairy products tends to be mucus forming. Alcohol also aggravates any allergic reaction and is therefore best avoided, or minimised, during hay fever season.

Editor's Note: If you are not sure if you have an allergy or sinusitis, read the article by Dr Brom: Sinusitis and Allergies – the Confusion Sorted

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