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Are allergies stopping you or your kids from enjoying the great outdoors?

Hay fever is no fun for either the child or the parent. And that’s regardless of who is suffering from it. A child suffering from a sneeze attack, itchy puffy eyes or a runny nose will probably not be at their happiest or most co-operative. A parent having similar symptoms will have less energy and patience with their off-spring. The end result is often misery for the whole family during the season when the world is at its prettiest and outdoors should be there to be enjoyed, not dreaded.

Apart from staying indoors during the pollen season, or taking the conventional medication to control at least some of the symptoms, what other options are there out there?

Making some changes in the diet that support a healthy immune system can make a big difference during the hay fever season. Certain foods are best avoided, and others should be emphasised for the best results.

The ‘friendly’ bacteria
There are around three hundred different strains of bacteria in the gut, most of which are essential to our health and well-being. The ‘good’ bacteria help fight infections and generally protect us against any attacks by invading harmful bacteria or viruses. Healthy gut bacteria can also help in managing allergies by reducing the severity of the body’s response. Any unwanted bacteria tend to reduce the ability of the good ones to do their job.

By eating the right kinds of foods you can help boost the levels of ‘good’ bacteria and discourage the growth of any undesirable bacteria.

Avoid excess sugar. The bad bacteria tend to thrive on sugar and processed foods. Reduce fizzy drinks, fruit juices, sweets, chocolates and pastries. Swap your high sugar morning cereal to porridge and mix in some fresh fruit such as grated apple or chopped banana.
Fresh fruit and vegetables and beans and lentils all support the growth of healthy bacteria.

The good and bad fats
Not all fats are bad for you. In fact, some fats are absolutely essential for the health. Two fats are particularly important and as our bodies cannot produce these they have to be obtained from the diet. These fats are called omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. They play an important role in regulating the body’s inflammatory responses. As hay fever involves inflammation of the airways, you can probably guess that these two fats are going to play an important part in the anti-hay fever diet.

Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, mackerel, sardines, pilchards and tuna. Vegetarian sources include linseeds (sometimes called flax), pumpkin seeds and quinoa.

You can get your omega-6 fatty acids from most nuts and seeds, such as almonds, hazel nuts, cashew nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds.

To ensure a good intake of these key fatty acids, you should:

· Eat oily fish at least twice weekly
· Snack on nuts and seeds
· Sprinkle a mixture of seeds on your morning cereal or porridge
· Use seed oils in salad dressings
· Avoid roasted and salted nuts as the heat reduces the health giving properties of the fats.
· Avoid any deep fried foods as these are all high in fats that increase rather than decrease inflammation.

The problem with dairy
If you suffer from a persistently runny nose during the hay fever period, you might wish to consider giving up cow’s milk. Dairy foods are mucous forming and can exacerbate the problem. There are plenty of alternatives to dairy, such as soy milk and yoghurts as well as rice and oat milk.

If you are worried about your or your child’s calcium intake, then fear not. Nuts and seeds are a great source of calcium, and in fact sesame seeds have higher levels of calcium than milk.

If your symptoms persist, an experienced nutritional therapist can help put together a more individualised programme that takes into account the specific areas in which your body may need support.

Kate Cook helps people deal with their diet and specialises in digestion and stress, so do get in touch 0845 0502442 or email us at

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