Got seasonal allergies? Why avoiding certain foods may help

In some allergy sufferers, the immune system confuses pollen proteins with certain food proteins, making allergy symptoms worse or causing oral-allergy syndrome.

On Nutrition

Another Seattle summer’s on its way, with its nearly endless daylight and minimal rainfall (psst … keep that secret to yourselves). But for those who suffer from seasonal allergies, it can be hard to enjoy our most glorious season. If you sneeze and sniffle all summer (or all spring), did you know that avoiding a few specific foods during allergy season may prevent or reduce allergy symptoms?

When you have allergies, your immune system overreacts to seemingly harmless triggers, such as pollen, and releases a chemical called histamine. Histamine is meant to protect you, but it also results in allergy symptoms. The pollens typically responsible for “hay fever” contain similar proteins to those found in certain raw fruits, vegetables and tree nuts.

In some allergy sufferers, the immune system confuses the pollen proteins with the food proteins. Eating those foods can trigger a “cross-reaction,” making allergy symptoms worse, but more often they cause oral-allergy syndrome, also known as pollen-food syndrome: itchy mouth, scratchy throat, swelling of the lips, mouth and throat.

Seattle’s pollen season runs from February to September. If you feel worse in spring, you’re likely more sensitive to tree pollens. If your symptoms hit in summer, they are probably triggered by grasses or weeds.

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May tends to be the month when these allergies coincide. People with oral-allergy syndrome typically have an allergy to birch, ragweed or grass pollens, and symptoms typically appear in older children, teens and young adults who have been eating the fruits or vegetables in question for years without any problems. Oral-allergy syndrome usually doesn’t affect young children.

If you are allergic…

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