The Top Allergy Fighting Foods

Susan Irby, CFNS, CFH

While spring is a season to look forward to after a blistery winter chill, some people dread this flowering time of year as allergies wreak havoc on runny noses and eyes, and often make it hard to breathe.

If allergy season is cause for concern, consider making some simple adjustments into your weekly menu planning. These basic nutritional tweaks could make a world of difference.

How Nutrition Affects Allergies

Corticosteroids keep breathing passageways open. Free radicals from the environment and foods can cause inflammation that obstructs those passageways due to a compound called histamine. In addition to outside influences, histamine can result from a diet high in omega-6 fatty acids primarily from foods cooked in unsaturated vegetable oils such as French fries, potato chips, and other deep-fried foods.

Adding foods rich in vitamin C can help protect against allergies so consider adding red bell peppers to your diet, as they are one of the leading foods in vitamin C content. Also, foods containing high amounts of anthocyanins are now being shown to reduce the prevalence of inflammation of nasal polyps.

Top Foods to Eat During Allergy Season

Maca root powder. Native to Peru, maca root contains a host of healing minerals including zinc and magnesium and is rich in vitamins B, C, and E. Although maca is primarily attributed to endocrine health, it is a promoter of general health and its high zinc content has proven effective in allergy relief. Pregnant or lactating women should avoid consuming maca root.

Fresh mint leaves. Making up an estimated 4 percent of mint’s total weight, mint is high in rosmarinic acid. Studies have shown this healing phytochemical promotes easy breathing due to its ability to keep air passages open and properties that block the production of inflammatory chemicals.

Pineapple. Pineapples contain high amounts of the enzyme bromelain. With the highest concentration in the stem, bromelain has been proven to have a profound anti-inflammatory effect throughout the body including the digestive system and it is a natural allergy reliever. Blend the pineapple stem (after peeling away the leaves) into smoothies with ice.

Papaya. Best eaten on an empty stomach, papaya contains the healing enzymes, papain and chymopapain, which have been shown to reduce inflammation and swelling.

Maitake and shiitake mushrooms. These healing mushrooms contain polysaccharides called beta-glucans which profoundly boost immunity. Lightly sauté with most any lean protein using coconut or grapeseed oil.

Reishi mushrooms. Numerous studies and testimonials have demonstrated that the reishi mushroom is one of the most powerful in relieving chest pain and stabilizing irregular heart beat. But, the reishi mushroom also contains ganoderic acid, which has been shown to lower histamine levels thereby improving allergy symptoms. It is most commonly found in the form of an extract or tincture.

Capers and red onion. Capers, as well as red onion, contain high amounts of the phytochemical quercetin, which helps to counterbalance cells that release histamine. Adding capers and red onion to meals can help stave off allergies.

Susan Irby is one of the nation’s foremost experts in fitness nutrition and recipe development, an accomplished public speaker and media personality. Her 16 years in the culinary industry — the past 11 in health, fitness and wellness — have earned Susan recognition as the leading lifestyle and weight loss expert empowering others to sustained, lifelong weight management through her practical, no-fail approach to positive health, nutrition, and fitness.

Susan is author of 9 recipe and wellness books including Substitute Yourself Skinny, ranked twice by as one of the Top 10 Best Diet Books and the Amazon best-selling book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Quinoa Cookbook.

Susan holds a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia, is a Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist, Certified Food Healer, and honed her culinary skills by working with master chefs in Italy and France. She is the creator of the successful brand, The Bikini Chef® and its recipes and content. The Bikini Chef® promotes “figure flattering flavors” and living a healthy lifestyle through good nutrition, delicious foods, and fitness. Susan is also the creator, producer, and host of The Bikini Lifestyles® Show.

For recipes, health and lifestyle tips, visit

Follow Susan on Twitter: @thesusanirby @thebikinichef ; Instagram: @thebikinichef Facebook:


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