When it comes to keeping the sniffles of seasonal allergies at bay, maintaining a healthy diet is one of your first lines of defense, says Mike Tringale, vice president of external affairs of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. “The best way to manage allergies is first and foremost to work with your doctor to get you on the best treatments out there. The sad new is there is no cure. A seasonal allergy is a genetic disease of the immune system. But even before you think about medications, it is really critical that you go into allergy season with a healthy diet,” says Tringale.

Studies show that a diet high in antioxidants and omega-3s can ease seasonal allergy suffering. A 2007 study found that children from the Greek island of Crete who ate a Mediterranean diet — high in fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, olive oil, and nuts — were less likely to develop allergy and asthma symptoms. “Allergies cause inflammation of the tissues lining the nose and throat. Finding foods that decrease inflammation will lead to relief,” Tringale says.

Nuts are one good choice. They’re a healthy snack and are high in magnesium and vitamin E. Magnesium protects against the wheezing that accompanies asthma, and vitamin E boosts immunity while simultaneously protecting the body from free radicals, which cause tissue damage and inflammation. “Most tree nuts, like walnuts and pecans, do the trick. Nuts also come with a lot of fat,” however, cautions Tringale, so don’t go overboard, especially if you’re battling your weight.

By Alexandra Sifferlin

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