Itchy, watery eyes, a runny nose, sneezing, and coughing are common reactions to grass and pollen this time of year—in fact, nearly 40 million Americans suffer from seasonal allergies. But after being stuck inside all winter (thanks a lot, Polar Vortex!), the last thing you need is another P-word preventing you from stepping outside. Don’t let allergies ruin your spring; find some relief instead.
1. Eat more veggies You already know they’re good for your waistline, turns out green vegetables can soothe allergy flare-ups, too. Studies show foods rich in vitamin C and folic acid can help reduce the immune response associated with hay fever. Load your shopping cart with broccoli, collard greens, and kale, all of which are full of anti-inflammatory agents.
2. Sip green tea Researchers in Japan found upping your intake of EGCG, the compound that gives green tea its antioxidant powers, can prevent your body from mounting an immune response to typical allergens, including pollen. Brew yourself two to three cups a day to maximize the effects.
3. Strike a yoga pose A small study in 2010 found practicing yoga regularly reduces inflammation in the body, and can lessen the severity of an allergy attack. A number of moves unblock nasal passages and improve breathing. Two good ones: Warrior 1, which relieves stuffiness by opening up your lungs, and Half Moon, which expands the ribcage.
4. Clean up your act Pollen and other airborne allergens tend to cling to clothes, skin, and hair—don’t bring them inside! Take your shoes off at the front door, keep a hamper for workout wear in the foyer (to be tossed in the laundry ASAP), and scamper straight to the shower to rinse everything off.
5. Consider Rx pills and sprays Over-the-counter antihistamines can soften the impact of your allergy symptoms. But just as no two dandelions are exactly alike, neither are two immune responses. That means, what worked for you last year may not do the trick this season. Your doctor can help you decide if you need something stronger, such as prescription-strength pills and shots, or a steroid nasal spray.
One, or a combination, of these allergy relievers may help you feel better, but sometimes staying indoors is still your best bet. Sky-high pollen counts and unfavorable air pollution conditions just aren’t worth the risk of a sneeze-fest or an asthma attack. Be sure to check levels before booking a bootcamp class in the park or making al fresco dining plans.