Grass allergies are nothing to sneeze at, so to speak. They can be worse if you’re not aware of how your diet can help or hurt the situation.
It seems overly simplistic, but all the foods we eat were first grown in fields. Bread, the staff of life, is made from grass. Wheat is a type of grass, as are oats. Your favorite 12-grain bread is a nightmare for the immune system if you are already struggling with grass sensitivities.
During allergy season, your immune system is stimulated to fight off invaders coming through your eyes, nose and mouth. Sneezing, coughing and watering eyes are all ways to expel the toxins. But if we also eat grains, it extends the response into the digestive system, and the body becomes overloaded. The best way to help your body cope is to limit exposure. Most of us already do that by not going outside or using face masks and the lightweight beekeeper’s suit my neighbor uses for mowing his lawn. It just doesn’t occur to us to put our lunch into the same category as outdoor activity. Recognize what it is that you’re eating. Switch out the sandwich for a salad or some other non-bread option that will nourish your struggling immune system, and you may feel a lot better for it.
Since every person is unique, the best way to find out what works for you is by keeping a food journal. Take note of what you eat and how you feel. If you find yourself tired within an hour of eating, something has stressed your immune system. Alternatively, if you feel like going another round with the yardwork after eating, you’ve chosen well. Your body is happy and productive, and everything is working as it should.
Strangely enough, fully processed white breads may not be a problem. The allergic reaction is triggered by proteins in the grain or pollen, and white bread has had proteins processed out for shelf stability. Whole grain breads have intact proteins which will strengthen your body’s defenses, but add to the trigger load. So you have to consider the payoff: while white bread will not nourish your system, it will not stress it, either. I use whole grains to build up the body in the off-season when they don’t cause such a problem, and white breads when rest is necessary but only bread will suffice.
Don’t forget that emotions and mindset play into the strength of the immune system. Comfort foods are often helpful to calm the body’s over-responsivity, especially for a child. A peanut butter sandwich on white bread can be a big relief in the midst of allergy season.
And while bread is a big offender, it is not the only one. Corn or rice in chips or cereal can be troublesome, since both are grain-based. Corn syrup is a common ingredient in many foods. A beer could be troublesome for its barley content. And different seasons have their own foods. Mold allergies can be made worse by cheeses, wine, or grapes, as well as yeast, which puts bread off the plate again. A food journal really is your best asset to find these connections.
Know that your efforts do make a difference. The worst puzzle I ever had was while dealing with multiple food sensitivities in my son. We’d moved to the Las Vegas desert to avoid pollens, but spring was especially hard on him. It turned out palm trees in the neighborhood were blooming, and the date sugar I was using to minimize obvious stressors made him very sick. Palm trees are so tall, it hadn’t occurred to me they were blooming. Neither did I make the connection that dates are the fruit of palm trees. But I had a journal, and a wise consultant helped us to put that in the past. Eliminating the date sugar and nourishing his system with other wholesome foods gave him the strength to handle palm season appropriately. Now, ten years later, he doesn’t react to anything.
As you work with your body to surmount problems, your body will reward you with excellent health year-round.
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