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Guide to Preventing Allergies   ( Home | Diet | Foods | Recipes )

Allergic Rhinitis & Diet Therapy: Omega-3 Fats, Vitamin C, Quercetin and Probiotics

Diet for allergic rhinitis or hay fever

Certain vitamins – such as vitamin C and E – as well anti-inflammatory nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, rosmarinic acid and quercetin have properties that make them excellent at preventing and alleviating allergic rhinitis, both in adults and children. Also probiotic bacteria and the antioxidant mineral selenium should play a key role in any diet aimed at reducing symptoms associated with perennial allergic rhinitis or hay fever. To learn more about how diet therapy can bring relief to allergic rhinitis, continue reading.

Please note: The information below and elsewhere on this website should not be taken as a substitute for professional medical or health advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or a qualified health care professional for any questions you may have regarding your medical condition.

#1: Add Omega-3 Fats to Your Diet, Limit Intake of Omega-6 Fats

Research suggests that a high consumption of omega-3 fatty acids is associated with a decreased risk of allergic rhinitis. The ability of omega-3 fatty acids to alleviate allergic rhinitis symptoms is believed to result from these fatty acids' anti-inflammatory properties.

Diets rich in omega-3s are associated with a lower risk of allergic rhinitis.

While omega-3 fats can reduce inflammation, many omega-6 fats can produce inflammatory prostaglandins and may thus worsen hay fever. However, this does not mean that you should completely eliminate omega-6 fats from diet: a certain amount of omega-6 fats included in the diet is necessary to maintain a healthy body. That said, most modern diets in Western countries — where allergic rhinitis is most prevalent — include too much of the inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids and not enough of the anti-inflammatory omega-3 acids. Simply consuming less refined vegetable oils (rich in omega-6 fatty acids) and increasing intake of omega-3 fats (by eating such foods as flaxseeds, walnuts, soybeans, and cold water fish like salmon, cod, and halibut) can ease symptoms associated withg seasonal and perennial allergic rhinitis.

#2: Include Herbs Rich in Rosmarinic Acid in Your Diet

Rosmarinic acid has been shown to suppress allergic reactions in test animals and, more recently, in humans. In mice, rosmarinic acid has been shown to work by suppressing allergic immunoglobulin responses and inflammation caused by leukocytes. Rosmarinic acid is found in many culinary herbs such as oregano, lemon balm, sage, marjoram, peppermint, thyme, and rosemary.

Red onions
Foods rich in quercetin, such as red onions, help ease allergic rhinitis symptoms.

#3: Consume Foods That Contain Quercetin

Quercetin is a bioflavonoid that has antioxidant, anti-histamine, and anti-inflammatory properties, and research suggests that it may help ease allergic symptoms. Good dietary sources of quercetin include capers, yellow and red onions, broccoli, red grapes, cherries, citrus fruits, tea, red wine, and many berries including lingonberries, raspberries, and cranberries.

#4: Load on Foods That Boast Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant which helps reduce inflammation responsible allergic reactions. Studies have also shown that high levels of vitamin C help reduce histamine release in the body and make histamine break down faster. Histamine, a chemical produced by the body, is involved in allergic rhinitis. The potentially positive effects of vitamin C on allergic rhinitis may be more pronounced when vitamin C is consumed in combination with vitamin E because these two vitamins work synergistically and protect each other.

#5: Step up Your Vitamin E Intake

Scientific research suggests that vitamin E may be effective at suppressing allergic reactions, including symptoms associated with allergic rhinitis. In one study, the participants received either 800 IU of vitamin E per day or a placebo. During the ten week trial period, nasal symptoms — such as sneezing, itching, congestion, and a runny nose — were reduced significantly in the group who were given vitamin E, compared to the placebo group. However, eye symptoms — such as itching, watery eyes, redness, and swelling — did not react to the vitamin E supplementation in this study.

#6: Eat Plenty of Selenium-Rich Foods

Improving you daily intake of selenium through foods may help alleviate symptoms of allergic rhinitis. The ability of selenium to ease allergic rhinitis symptoms is linked its role in the antioxidant system of the body: selenium is a key component of several enzymes responsible for antioxidant defense. To get the most out of selenium's health benefits, combine selenium-rich foods with foods that boast vitamin E (selenium and vitamin E work synergistically).

#8: Add Probiotic Bacteria to Your Diet

Lactobacillus acidophilus (L. acidophilus) and Bifidobacterium bifidum (B. bifidum) are probiotic (beneficial) bacteria which live in the gastrointestinal tract where they aid digestion and control the growth of harmful bacteria. Several suggest that these health-promoting bacteria may also be effective at alleviating symptoms associated with allergic rhinitis. Dietary sources of probiotic bacteria include yoghurt containing live cultures of the bacteria, milk and sour milk enriched with the bacteria, miso, and tempeh. Increasing your intake of probiotic bacteria may be particularly helpful if you have recently been taking an antibiotic medication as antibiotics are known to destroy the healthy flora in the intestines.