The days get warmer, the trees bloom, and with that comes a deluge of pollen that can often make us miserable with allergies. There are natural foods, however, that can help reduce the impact of these allergies and the need to reach for synthetic drugs with their many unwanted side effects.
To better understand what is happening in our bodies, and how we can help, let's look at how our immune system works and responds.
The National Institutes of Health has an excellent publication (NIH Publication No. 03-5423) that provides a clear explanation of how our immune system works.
"The most common type of allergic disease occurs when the immune system responds to a false alarm. A normally harmless material such as grass pollen or house dust is mistaken for a threat and attacked. Allergies such as pollen allergy are related to an antibody known as IgE. Like other antibodies, each IgE antibody is specific; one acts against oak pollen and another ragweed."
Our amazing immune systems have fast response mechanisms. Once we encounter an allergen such as a pollen, our B cells make specific IgE antibodies. These antibodies attached to mast cell. These mast cells are the bodies fast allergy storm troopers. Inside them they have granules of histamine and heparin - chemicals that the body uses to speed the diffusion of white blood cells into muscle to help fight against infection. The next time these primed mast cells encounter the same pollen, they release their payload of histamine. When this happens in a cascading way, we can suffer from a major allergic response out of balance with the threat.
There are a wide range of chemicals both artificial and natural that can mediate the action of these mast cells to reduce over-reactions to common allergens. Nature has produced broad classes of chemicals that are particularly effective at stabilizing the mast cells.
Foods high in flavonoids and polyphenols are of special interest. These are some of our favorite brightly colored foods. They include Quercetin, which is found in high levels in the skin of apples, berries and capers; Resveratrol found in grapes, red wine and raspberries; and Curcumin, one key active ingredient in Turmeric.
A lot of study has focused on the role Turmeric can play in the mediation of allergies and inflammation. In recent studies, Curcumin has been found to suppress the IgE-mediated allergic response. It appears that Curcumin has anti-allergic activity - it significantly inhibited antigen-induced degranulation of the mast cells and the release of their histamine.
The effect of Curcumin appears to function to mediate the Mast cell at low concentrations. The Curcumin is naturally manufactured in the rhizome of our organically grown Turmeric and provides its bright orange color.
With this knowledge, we can create allergy-fighting menus that can keep levels of naturally occurring Quercetin, Resveratrol and Curcumin in our blood stream while enjoying delicious, nutritious and healthful foods. Our suggested menu is enhanced for spring with the addition of Turmeric Capsules. It includes allergy-fighting raspberries, ginger, turmeric, onions, capers and apples that will keep you satisfied and ready to face these spring days.
A Daily Menu Packed with Allergy-Fighting Natural Goodness
Lunch - Lox and Bagels with onions and capers
Snack - Red Apple + Ginger Turmeric Green Tea