The five foods to AVOID when struggling with hay fever – including two you WON’T want to throw off the diet

Hay fever season is upon us, and millions are looking for ways to manage the symptoms.

Experts say some foods can make sneezing and itchy eyes worse and should be avoided when pollen counts are high.

Wine could be off the table for hay fever sufferers this summer


Wine could be off the table for hay fever sufferers this summerPhoto credit: Getty – Contributor

Although remedies like antihistamines and nasal sprays work wonders, they may not be enough for those afflicted with hay fever.

And with a pollen explosion coming up this week, it may be worth adjusting your diet to avoid pesky allergies.

Experts from The Organic Pharmacy advise avoiding coffee and alcohol, which can be challenging for the average Brit.

The main culprit is histamines, chemicals produced by the immune system in response to an allergy.

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As part of the body’s defense system, they cause inflammation and symptoms like a runny nose.

Antihistamines – hay fever sufferers’ best friends – help fight the symptoms caused by this histamine release.

Histamines are found in a number of foods. Therefore, taking them could make hay fever symptoms worse.


Margo Marrone, pharmacist and co-founder of The Organic Pharmacy, said: “Many types of alcohol contain histamines, which make allergies worse.

“The sulphites found in many types of alcohol are also bad news as they can also make symptoms worse.

“If you want to enjoy a drink without triggering your allergies, go for gin and vodka as these spirits have the lowest histamine levels. Plus, they’re perfect summer drinks!”


“Unfortunately, hay fever sufferers have to find another way to recover in the morning because coffee is another drink to avoid,” the pharmacists warn.

“Not only has it been found to trigger the release of hay fever’s enemy, histamine, but it also causes liver congestion, making symptoms worse.

“Replace your morning coffee with a cup of chamomile tea as this will clear up the excess mucus brought on by hay fever and keep the sinuses clean.

“And if you still need a pick-me-up, opt for natural energy boosters to keep you energized throughout the day.”

aged cheese

Another one that might discourage hay fever sufferers – aged cheeses like Stilton, goat cheese and some cheddars.

Margo said: “Sorry to all the cheese lovers, but aged cheese is actually one of the worst foods you can have for your allergies.

“That’s because it often contains histamines – as you can probably guess from the name, this is the stuff that hay fever sufferers need to avoid at all costs.

“These histamines are made by bacterial microbes that grow on the rind of aged cheese to help it ripen and protect it from harmful pathogens.”


“Unfortunately, aged cheese isn’t the only dairy product that hay fever sufferers need to avoid,” warned Margo.

“Most dairy products can worsen the symptoms of allergic reactions.

“It does this by increasing the body’s production of mucus, which makes it even harder to get rid of the stuffy nose that accompanies hay fever.”

Dairy products include milk, yogurt, or ice cream.

The good news is that there is now a wide range of non-dairy products such as almond milk on the market.


Sometimes people with hay fever also struggle with pollen food syndrome, also known as oral allergy syndrome.

This food allergy causes a person to experience an itchy throat, itchy inner ear, swelling of the tongue or lips after eating fresh fruit.

The proteins in food, especially fresh fruit, are similar to pollen and the body responds accordingly.

Which foods someone reacts to depends on which pollen they are allergic to.

People with hay fever in summer have a grass pollen allergy and can therefore react to melons.

Margo said: “Unfortunately, as refreshing as this tasty fruit is, it can cause uncomfortable reactions in some hay fever sufferers.

“Melon is a key trigger for people with pollen food syndrome because it’s bad for those who are sensitive to both grass and ragweed pollen.

“But there are many other foods that can trigger this allergy, such as celery, bananas, and pitted fruit.” The five foods to AVOID when struggling with hay fever – including two you WON’T want to throw off the diet

Sarah Y. Kim

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