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The Connection Between Foods, Inflammation and Hay Fever

Based on Harvard Health Publications and American Journal of Rhinology & Allergy Journal, allergic rhinitis or hay fever is a form of allergic inflammatory disease. Now it is widely acceptable in the medical communities that systemic inflammation is the underlying cause of seasonal allergies or hay fever. Although inflammation is part of the normal repair mechanisms in our bodies, the body’s inflammation response is heightened in such a way that people suffering from allergies produce inflammation processes in in response to harmless substances such as pollen. This unnecessary inflammation in seasonal allergies prevents many people to enjoy times with family and friends via outdoor activities. During the inflammation process, many naturally occurring chemical substances are being produced to trigger unpleasant reactions such as itchy, redness, burning, and watery discharge from the eyes. Histamine and leukotriene are example of some of the chemical substances that are involved in the inflammation process in our bodies. Pharmaceutical medications for seasonal allergies such as Allegra and Benadryl work by reducing the effects of histamine so that swelling, pain, and redness symptoms of inflammation can occur less. Even though these medications may be effective for seasonal allergies, the side effects of medication may include dry eyes, dry mouth, headaches, and drowsiness. One may need to increase the dose of medication long-term after our bodies are getting used to the certain dose that we are taking. Thus, the more we can help reduce the underlying cause of seasonal allergies, the less we may have to depend on pharmaceutical medications.

The good news is we can help decrease seasonal allergies symptoms by reducing inflammation processes in the body by means of eating nourish and delicious foods! It may take at least 10 weeks prior to allergy season of eating flavonoid rich food for this therapy to be effectiveness in reducing allergy symptoms, eating flavonoid rich foods long-term can help reduce allergy symptoms with no side effects. In addition, foods high flavonoid don’t just help decrease inflammation processes through out the body and decrease seasonal allergies symptoms, but they also help prevent cardiovascular disorders such as heart attack or stroke and prevent us from the risk of having dementia later in life [Williams, 2012]. Foods that are high in flavonoids and quercetin (a type of flavonoid) naturally have anti-allergic effects [Hirano, 2009. Hattori, 2013]. Examples of foods that contain quercetin include but not limited to apples, blueberries, cherries, onions and tea. Foods that contain flavonoid include non-herbal tea, broccoli, carrots, peppers, and cabbage. Flavonoid rich foods have been shown to significantly reduce itching eye symptom in seasonal allergies based on the 2009 Japanese study [Hirano, 2009]. The type of flavonoid called Catechins, which can be found in a high quality ‘Benifuuki’ green tea in Japan, has been shown to help reduce allergy symptoms such as runny nose or itchy nose [Masuda, 2014]. This is based on a study where participants start drinking this type of green tea in a 350-ml bottle twice daily (700 mL/day) for 10 weeks before pollen season started. Catechins (flavonoids) in high quality green tea have the ability suppress the level of a certain type of white blood cells associated with seasonal allergies and inflammations [Masuda, 2014]. Flavonoid rich foods such as apples also contain high level of naturally occurring vitamin C, which has been shown in many researches to help with seasonal allergies as well.

Eating foods high in flavonoids in combination with getting enough sleep and exercise can help decrease inflammation processes in our bodies. This would also help combating seasonal allergies naturally. Feel free to send comments about this blog to


Hattori, Masashi, et al. (2013).“Quercetin inhibits transcriptional up-regulation of histamine H1 receptor via suppressing protein kinase C-alpha/extracellular signal-regulated kinase/poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-1 signaling pathway in HeLa cells.” International Immunopharmacology. 15 (2): 232-239. doi: 10.1016/j.intimp.2012.12.030.

Hirano, Toru, et al. (2009). “Preventative Effect of a Flavonoid, Enzymatically Modified Isoquercitrin on Ocular Symptoms of Japanese Cedar Pollinosis.” Allergology International. 59:373-382. doi: 10.2332/allergolint.o8-OA-0070.

Masuda, Sawako, et al. (2014). “ ‘Benifuuki’ Green Tea Containing O-Methylated Catechin Reduces Symptoms of Japanese Cedar Pollinosis: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial.” Allergology International. 63 (2) :211-217. doi: 10.2332/allergolint.13-OA-0620.

Williams, Robert J. and Spencer, Jeremy P.E. (2012). “Flavonoids, cognition, and dementia: Actions, mechanisms, and potential therapeutic utility for Alzheimer disease.” Free Radical Biology & Medicine. 52 (1): 35-45. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2011.09.010.

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