1. Eat immune boosting foods. Allergies are an immune response. Essentially, an allergic response is triggered when a harmless substance (the allergen) causes the immune system to overreact, as if that substance were harmful. Often, the body responds by creating histamine, causing inflammation in the soft tissues throughout the body (such as nasal passages, eyes, throat, etc.). Foods that boost immunity - particularly, onions and garlic - help prevent this overreaction by the immune system and control the amount of histamines produced. (Source)
2. Eat foods rich in vitamins C and E. These immune-enhancing vitamins also control the symptoms of seasonal allergies: the runny nose, itchy and watery eyes, scratchy throat. Some foods that contain high amounts of these vitamins are peppers (especially red peppers), carrots and spinach (you see where I'm going with this...spinach salad!)
3. Eat foods that are anti-inflammatory. An anti-inflammatory diet benefits us in a number of ways, but those who suffer from seasonal allergies will really benefit from less inflammation in the system. Less inflammation means less reaction /symptoms.
4. Supplement with herbs like echinacea, ginger and licorice. When suffering from allergies and other infections, herbs like echinacea, ginger and licorice (NO, not the candy!) help boost T-cells, the little soldiers of our immune system. They help to fight viruses and infections (like ear infections, sinus infections, etc.), which could result from the mucus and congestion associated with colds and allergies. You can find these herbal supplements at your local pharmacy or health food store. Speak to an expert to make sure that they are appropriate for you, and what dosage is best. (Source)
5. Stay hydrated. Drink lots of water and keep nasal passages moist by using steam, a neti pot, saline spray, etc. sounds to simple to work, but it really does help relieve the symptoms associated with allergies. These things help flush toxins out and reduce discomfort.
This Wilted Spinach Salad has quickly become my new favorite salad. The spinach is wilted ever so slightly and tossed with grape tomatoes, lots of extra virgin olive oil and toasted garlic (what Sicilian girl WOULDN'T love it!). I like to add some grilled chicken to it, which makes it more of a meal...an immune boosting, vitamin rich, anti-inflammatory one. Will this alone make your allergy symptoms, magically, disappear? Maybe not, but eating this way gives your body the resources it needs to manage allergens, germs and inflammation more efficiently and effectively, so that you can enjoy this beautiful season.
Wilted Spinach Salad with Grilled Chicken
For Grilled Chicken:
4 thinly sliced chicken cutlets
Juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
For Wilted Spinach Salad:
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 bag (approx. 9 ounces) of baby spinach
1/2 box (approx. 1/2 pint) grape tomatoes, sliced in half
Splash of balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
In a medium bowl, whisk together olive oil and lemon juice. Sprinkle chicken cutlets with salt and pepper and lay in a baking pan. Pour the lemon dressing over the chicken and allow to marinate for approximately 30 minutes.
Heat grill pan over high heat. Grill chicken cutlets, approximately 3 minutes per side (depending on how thick the cutlets are). When done, remove from grill and set aside.
In a medium stockpot, heat the olive oil until hot, but not smoking. Add garlic slices and simmer until they just begin to turn brown. Remove from heat and immediately add the spinach to the pot. Toss until the spinach is slightly wilted and nicely coated with the olive oil. Add grape tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.
Divide the spinach salad among four plates and top each one with one sliced chicken cutlet.
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