By Amanda Hamilton
Spring has sprung and with it watery eyes, itchy noses and sneezing. Hay fever, or Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis, is an acute allergy-related condition that is estimated to affect one in four adults in the western world. It is often thought to be caused by Spring to Summer changes in grasses and pollen (thus the reference to ‘hay’) but if you are looking out on sand and crystal blue sea you are not immune – quite the opposite, in fact.
Cities such as Dubai and the wider Gulf Region are seeing dramatic increases in sufferers due to air con, humidity and pollution, with many European countries following the same trend.
Like many 21st century ills, allergies are a hotbed of debate. In one camp there’s the “hygiene hypothesis” that argues that our environment is too clean and that children’s immune systems aren’t being challenged enough. Babies are not being allowed to develop a natural immunity, so the argument goes.
For others it is only a contributing factor, the answer lies deeper within. In the case of allergies, the root of the problem is thought of as the gut microbiome, where problems have developed assiduously over time.
Keeping the body hydrated is one of the best ways to combat seasonal allergies.
Take Britain, for example, where the rates of hay fever compared to the rest of the EU are particularly high, especially amongst teenagers with 38 percent suffering from the problem. One theory gaining ground is that in the U.K. we are now seeing the result of the high levels of antibiotics that were prescribed by general practitioners until about 10 or 15 years ago. This meant that the immune systems of our current teen population have been compromised, leaving their gut – the body’s frontline defense – more vulnerable to allergens. Medical professionals also know that the condition is heritable so some of us are more vulnerable than others.
If you are vulnerable to this scurge of Spring, the first step is always to drink water to stave off dehydration. Histamine is used in the body as a water regulator so if the body is dehydrated, more histamine will be produced.
Following a Mediterranean-style diet helps to ease the discomforts of seasonal allergies.
Processed foods are a no-go, too. Colourings and flavourings can worsen any allergic reaction. Rather, try to eat a Mediterranean-style diet with plenty of onions and garlic instead as they both contain high levels of quercetin, a potent antioxidant which helps to promotes a healthy inflammatory response.
Avoiding histamine-rich foods is part of a nutritional support plan too, so be careful around mature cheese, red wine, shellfish and most depressingly of all, chocolate!
Amanda Hamilton is an internationally renowned nutritionist, whose philosophy of wellbeing and nutrition is based on authenticity. Following the Mediterranean lifestyle and diet – the most widely recognized for its health benefits on longevity – Amanda has designed a complete nutritional programme comprised of healthy options for each of Marbella Club’s restaurants; a juices and smoothies menu, and a personalized suggested meal plan to accompany each of the Wellness programmes offered. You can read nore of Amanda’s tips for healthy skin and the benefits of ginger.