If you suffer from seasonal allergies, then you’re likely starting the annual battle against sneezing, sinus congestion, postnasal drip, itchy eyes, and even skin rashes. Even as you take your daily allergy pill or nasal spray – or perhaps even a combination of the two – your diet may be rendering them ineffective. Here are seven foods that may make allergies worse.
#1 – Hazelnuts
Even if you’ve never had a nut allergy and you can consume peanut butter like everyone else, there’s some evidence to suggest that hazelnuts may make allergies worse. In fact, people tend to notice that even hazelnut flavoring, commonly found in coffees and coffee creamers, can trigger their attacks. If you’re consuming hazelnuts in any form, even in the popular Nutella, try cutting it out of your diet to see if your allergies take a backseat.
#2 – Peaches
Peaches seem to affect those who have allergies to grass pollen, so if this is your diagnosis, you may want to steer clear of this fruit – especially the fresh and frozen varieties – unless you plan to cook them. Studies out of the Asthma & Allergy Care in New York have found that peeling and cooking the fruits that tend to trigger allergy attacks can render them harmless in many cases. It’s the fresh and frozen varieties that make allergies worse.
#3 – Spicy Food
Allergy sufferers can sometimes get temporary relief from eating something spicy. A piece of sushi with a dab of wasabi can certainly open the sinuses, as can some sriracha. However, there’s evidence to suggest that these ingredients and others, including horseradish and even black pepper, can actually trigger sinus problems, especially in people who have seasonal allergies. It’s thought that these foods can cause acid reflux, which triggers ear, nose, and throat issues.
#4 – Celery
Celery is thought to be one of the world’s prime superfoods. It’s packed with nutrients, and it contains very few calories. However, if you’re allergic to birch pollen, it’s likely best to avoid it. It can cause a significant sneezing fit followed by sinus pressure. Unfortunately, the very same goes for carrots, which contain some of the same compounds. Some individuals have found that removing the leaves helps; others say that all parts of the stalk make allergies worse.
#5 – Tomatoes
Tomatoes are delicious on sandwiches, and they even get their own letter in a BLT sandwich, which is a popular spring dish. If you have grass allergies, you might want to avoid them. Studies have shown that tomatoes worsen grass allergies in about 50% of people, even if they’re taking prescription-strength medications. Like peaches, peeling and cooking tomatoes can help reduce this reaction.
#6 – Watermelon
If you have an allergy to ragweed (the most common seasonal allergy, right alongside pollen), you may want to avoid that fresh watermelon this season. Studies have shown that they’ll make your reaction to ragweed worse, and they may render your allergy medications completely useless. Other melons, like cantaloupe and honeydew, may have the same effect.
#7 – Alcoholic Beverages
While there’s nothing more refreshing than a frozen cocktail or an ice-cold shandy on a hot spring day, you might want to cut alcohol out of your diet if you have any seasonal allergy. Alcohol interferes with your body’s ability to create its own antihistamines, and it may render those you take by mouth ineffective. What’s more, there are studies to indicate that beer and wine, especially, can cause sinus symptoms in some people. The studies are ongoing to discover the how and why, but for now, it’s best to avoid alcohol if you have allergies.
Seasonal allergies range from mild to severe. For some, they’re a minor nuisance; for others, they’re debilitating. If it seems that your allergies are relentless no matter what you do, these foods may be to blame. Everything from melon to peaches may make allergies worse, so removing them from your diet one at a time could help you pinpoint the issue.