Fall is the peak time for many viral illnesses. However, it is also a time of seasonal allergy surges. Often, the watery eyes, sneezing, fatigue, stuffy or runny nose, temporary loss of smell, coughing, headache, ear congestion signaling allergy attack is mistaken for viral conditions. If you are someone suffering the woes of ragweed, hay fever, dust mites and mold common this time of year, there are some food options that may improve your symptoms.
Unpleasant allergy symptoms come from inflammatory issues, like swelling and irritation in the nasal passages, eyes and throat. Ginger can help reduce these symptoms naturally. Ginger has been used as a natural remedy for a number of health problems, like nausea and joint pain. It's also been studied for its antioxidative, anti-inflammatory phytochemical compounds. In a 2016 study, ginger suppressed the production of pro-inflammatory proteins, leading to reduced allergy symptoms.
Even better news is the fact it doesn't matter if it is fresh ginger or dried. So add it for extra flavor in your favorite dishes, stir fry, curries, baked goods or brew up some ginger tea.
Also, bee pollen is a mixture of enzymes, nectar, honey, flower pollen and often sold as a curative for hay fever. Research has shown bee pollen can have anti-inflammatory, antifungal and antimicrobial properties in the body. Bee pollen was shown to inhibited the activation of mast cells -- a crucial step in preventing allergic reactions. There is some evidence to support the consuming local bee pollen to help build your body's resistance to the pollen in your area. Bee pollen comes in small pellets, with a flavor some describe as bittersweet or nutty. You can often find it at local farmers markets or purchase it from local beekeepers. Try sprinkling some on yogurt or cereal or blending it into a smoothie.
Likewise, we have all heard vitamin C helps colds and flu. Did you know it is also beneficial in the fight against allergies? Eating foods high in vitamin C have been shown to decrease allergic rhinitis. This is the irritation of the upper respiratory tract caused by pollen from blooming plants. Allergy seasons are a great time to load up on vitamin C rich foods like oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit and tomatoes!
Speaking of tomatoes, besides containing 26 percent of your daily vitamin C, they also contain the compound lycopene. Lycopene is an antioxidant compound that helps halt systemic inflammation. Interestingly, lycopene is both easier to absorb and intensified when the tomato is cooked.
Are you an onion lover? If so, add it to your arsenal against allergy season. Onions contain a compound called quercetin. Quercetin acts as a natural antihistamine, reducing the symptoms of seasonal allergies. Onions also contain a number of other anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds. Raw red onions have the highest concentration of quercetin. Cooking onions significantly reduces the quercetin content. Try adding them to salads, dips or on sandwiches.
Dr. Dianna Richardson has been serving Jefferson City and the surrounding communities for more than 22 years. She has worked in the field of health and nutrition as a wellness practitioner for over 30 years. Core to her practice remains use of nutrition to improve health, vitality and quality of life. Richardson holds a doctorate in naturopathy, along with degrees in nutrition and a master's degree in public health education. She may be found at the Health, Wellness & Nutrition Center, LLC on Dix Road in Jefferson City.
CARAMELIZED CAULIFLOWER WITH PEPPERS & ONION
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small head white cauliflower cored and coarsely chopped
1 small head yellow or purple cauliflower cored and coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more as needed
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and sliced
1/2 small red onion, halved and sliced
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped (or 3 teaspoons dried)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Pour the oil into a large, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the white and purple cauliflower and cook, stirring occasionally, until well browned in places, about 4 minutes, then season with the 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and black pepper. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast the cauliflower until tender, about 6 minutes.
Return the skillet to the stove top over high heat. Add the butter, red bell pepper, onion and nutmeg. Taste, add salt and pepper as needed, and cook, stirring frequently, until the pepper and onion soften, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the parsley and serve.