If you're anything like me, this time of year...every year, you have to remind yourself the good comes from the bad. Aka: pollen. Without it, spring would be way less vibrate and beautiful. But, it also means allergies.
Allergies are our body's immune response to an allergen (in this case, pollen). When we come in contact with or breath in pollen, we produce an antibody that activates certain receptors in our cells that create histamine. This results in the allergic reactions we know so well: sniffly, runny noses, itchy eyes, scratchy throat, etc. I think they forgot to mention that in the April showers brings May flowers song, they meant Pollen, not rain...not very optimal if you ask me.
So, here are a few ways to try and combat the hazy arrival of the yellow stuff.
Know the Pollen Levels
Sounds simple, but I never really thought of this until a friend said you can check this online (American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology www.aaaai.org.) When pollen levels are high, keep the windows closed in your home and car, and turn on the air conditioning. Avoid gardening or working in the yard during peak pollen periods, usually in the early morning and early evening, or wear a mask that filters out pollen. Frequent showers and laundry loads will wash away pollen that sticks to your clothing and hair.
Eat Bee Pollen
High in protein, antioxidants, and vitamins, bee pollen is one of nature's superfoods. It contains more amino acids than beef, eggs, or cheese of equal weight and is richer in protein than any animal source. And guess what? It also helps reduce our histamine response.
Bee pollen is collected via special traps, usually made of steel, resembling mesh sheets, which are placed inside a hive. As the bees return back to the hive, they crawl through the pollen traps, which dust the pollen off the legs of the bee and it falls into the collector. When done correctly, there is no harm to the bees and enough is left to support the hive. It's very important that you find and use reputable, local beekeepers in your area to help protect the bee population and to insure you're building immunity to plants in your area. ask your source (or check the label) to make sure it's pesticide and mold free. Lastly, try to get a bottle with a variety of pollen colors. This typically means there are multiple plant sources, which improves the bee pollen's nutrient profile. Mass produced/ industrial collected bee pollen is done at a detriment to bees, I'll spare you the horrible specifics. Bees are crucial to the health of our environment and us so please purchase responsibly!
Bee pollen can come in multiple forms, but it's best to consume the granuals the bees make. It has a sweet taste and powdery texture that can be used in smoothies or sprinkled on oatmeal and yogurt. Introduce it gradually to your routine to make sure you don't have adverse reactions to it and ruin it's effectiveness for you!
For more awesome info on Bee pollen check out the folks over at Bee Pollen Buzz.
Super Immune Supporters and Food Fundamentals
Probiotics like Lactobacillus acidophulus (found in cultured yogurt), are helpful bacteria that normalize immune function, improve and sometimes prevent, allergic responses. Researchers believe that these good bacteria show the immune system how to better distinguishes between harmless substances and negative allergens.
Coenzyme Q10 (aka CoQ10), is a vitamin like compound that not only exhibits immune boosting abilities, it is also shown to have a powerful antioxidant that enhances the effect of other anti- allergy supplements.
Include healthy foods rich in antioxidants and vitamin C (Blueberries, grape seed oil, citrus) to your diet along with plenty of bioflavonoids and omega 3 fatty acids. Bioflavonoids help stabilize cell structure to inhibit histamine release (prevalent in green tea, citrus and berries). Just as imperative as it is to add all that goodness to your diet, you need to avoid foods that inflame or aggravate your system (refined sugars, alcohols, dairy and wheat for some).