Hay fever and Food: Cross Reactions

Hay fever causes misery to millions of people each year with symptoms ranging from mild sneezing, runny nose or itchy eyes through to debilitating breathing problems and fatigue. It can occur at any age, causes lower productivity at work and is usually at its height during the summer exam season causing worry to students and parents alike. So, what can you do about it?

Some hay fevers, particularly those attributed to tree, grass and weed pollens may be affected by foods common in our everyday diet. This is because both the foods and the pollens have a similar epitope, the part of the molecule that reacts with the body’s immune system, and so cross-reactions can occur.

When the immune system has been stimulated by the epitope, it produces certain antibodies that in turn cause histamine to be released into the blood stream causing symptoms such as sneezing, streaming eyes or nose, rash, itching, wheezing etc.

If your hay fever is exacerbated by food then not only is your immune system being stimulated by pollen in the air but it may also react to foods with the same epitope when you eat them. So the more you eat the problem food, the more your immune system reacts and the worse your hay fever becomes.

Typical foods that can affect hay fever include apple, nectarine, carrot, celery, beans, nuts, tomato, melon, kiwi, orange, spinach, wheat, plus many more. Some people may notice that they have reactions after having eaten certain foods, but this is not always the case and so allergy testing may be advisable to identify which foods may be triggering the histamine response.

Once you have identified foods that affect you, you will then be able to eliminate them from your diet during the hay fever season*. Some people find that when they follow this procedure they no longer suffer from hay fever, others find that their symptoms, and subsequently their lifestyles, are greatly improved.

To find out more information or to book an appointment please call Christine Wilson on 01628 821166 or
email christine@lovemyhealth.co.uk.

*If multiple foods or whole food groups are identified you may be advised to take nutritional advice prior to embarking on
an elimination diet.