Nasal Allergies

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What are the best foods to decrease seasonal nasal allergies (rhinitis)?

What would you recommend for nasal allergies? Hubby and I are both on a plant based diet and our allergies are better since going vegan, but it’s spring & it’s bad this year already lol.

veggiechick / Originally posted in Preventing Allergies in Adulthood


Oh, I’m so sorry you’re suffering! There was a new study published last week on diet and allergic rhinoconjunctivitis (runny nose/itchy eyes) that confirmed that meat is associated with increased risk (in this case 71% higher), but that’s no help to a couple of vegans! There are four plant foods, however, associated with cutting one’s risk in approximately half:

  1. Seaweed. An ounce of sea vegetables appears to lower risk 49%–just make sure to avoid kelp and hijiki.
  2. Dark green leafy vegetables. Greens of the land may protect as much as greens from the sea. A study found that those with the highest level of total carotenoids in their blood stream (alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein/zeaxanthin, canthaxanthin and cryptoxanthin) had a significantly lower prevalence of seasonal allergies. See my video Egg Industry Blind Spot for a list of some of the best sources and Raw Food Nutrient Absorption and Forgo Fat Free Dressings? for the best ways to boost bioavailability.
  3. Flax seeds. Similar to the carotenoid finding, those with higher levels of both long and short chain omega-3 fatty acids in their blood stream were found to have less allergic rhinitis in a cross-sectional study.
  4. Miso. A teaspoon of miso a day was associated with about 41% lower prevalence. So try my favorite dressing on those greens: Blend until smooth in high-speed blender 3 T white miso. 1/4 cup brown rice wine vinegar, 1/4 cup water, 2 carrots, a small beet, an inch of fresh ginger root, and 1 T freshly toasted sesame seeds. Just watch your clothing as it comes out BRIGHT purple!

Image credit: mcfarlandmo / Flickr


Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.

27 responses to “What are the best foods to decrease seasonal nasal allergies (rhinitis)?

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    1. Miso is fermented soy bean paste. It may also be made from barley or rice malt. It is used widely used Japanese cooking for making soups and sauces. An opened jar of miso may last for up to 1 year refrigerated; however, you may want to use the refrigerated dressing with 3-5 days after you make it.

    2. Miso is fermented soy bean paste. It may also be made from barley or rice malt. It is widely used in Japanese cooking for making soups and sauces. An opened jar of miso may last for up to 1 year refrigerated; however, you may want to use the refrigerated dressing within 3-5 days after you make it.

    1. The eyes are exposed to alot of things in the environment such as smog and plant allergens. I am glad infection was ruled out. A simple approach is to use artificial tears one drop in each eye to sort of flush them out. Use the drops without chemicals which can sometimes add to the problem. Many of my patients found this helpful. If the problem persists or worsens you should be reevaluated. Good luck.

    1. According to usda data, 3 T miso would have about 1900 mg sodium. By a conservative estimate, the recipe above must make at least a cup. Taking a standard salad dressing size of about two tablespoons, this would amount to 237 mg sodium per serving.

      The average WFPB diet contains less than 500 mg sodium in the foods themselves, which leaves about 1000 mg left to play with and still adhere to the lowest recommendation of 1500 mg/day, or one could have an additional 1800 mg if going by the tolerable upper limit of 2300 mg/day (from American Heart Association, Institute of Medicine, & National Academy of Sciences). 1000 mg could be added in the form of a half cup of the miso dressing, about 1/2 tsp of table salt, a tablespoon of soy sauce, 1/3 cup of either mustard or ketchup, or obviously some combination of all of them – the point being that one could eat the salad dressing, plus have a fairly generous amount of other salty condiments, and still meet the most conservative recommendations *if* the diet itself is based on whole, unprocessed foods. So in the context of a naturally low in sodium whole foods plant based diet, the 237 mg contributed by this dressing isn’t really something to worry about.

  1. Dr. Greger — alfalfa tablets will help with sinus (and arthritis) — also Oil of Oregano is great for all upper respiratory. Living in South Ms – lots of sinus but as long as I eat up 4 alfalfa tablets a day I don’t get sinus problems.

  2. also – giving up all dairy items, one will see dramatic reduction in sinus stuff — and if black or Asian — giving up all dairy will see reduction or elimination of sniffly noses. If one thinks about the history of such people, did they have cow milk?? nah — probably camel milk, goat milk or soy milk.

  3. Thank you for the wonderful recipe. It’s seasonal allergy time again, and I’ll be happy to include miso in our foods more often. I dressed a warm/cold salad of greens/mushrooms/spring onions/noodles/edamame for dinner last night. Delicious, and soon to be a staple.

  4. I have a related question. I am seeing an increase in tonsil stones coming from from my sinuses and throat. I think It causes bad breath. What can i do to stop this? Are there foods which increase or decrease the production of these things?

  5. Is it true that consumption of local raw organic honey will help to decrease the incidence of common seasonal (pollen) allergies? His theory was that bee’s carry tiny amount of different kind of pollen’s and then we ingest tiny amounts of the allergen until we become “sensitized”.

  6. HI! I would like to know if its true that consumption of local raw organic honey will help to decrease the incidence of common seasonal (pollen) allergies? I heard a theory that bee’s carry tiny amount of different kind of pollen’s and then we ingest tiny amounts of the allergen until we become “sensitized”… ¿.?

  7. Hi, Is it true that consumption of local raw organic honey will help to
    decrease the incidence of common seasonal (pollen) allergies? His theory
    was that bee’s carry tiny amount of different kind of pollen’s and then
    we ingest tiny amounts of the allergen until we become “sensitized”.

    1. I can’t speak of anything but anecdotally but when I moved to Austin I developed some rather bad nasal season allergies. Bought some locally made raw unfiltered honey that I could see the pollen in quite easily and a couple of weeks later after taking a couple of teaspoons a day 90+% of the symptoms were gone and didn’t return.

  8. What helped me controlling and getting almost rid of spring allergy, was coffee, black coffee in the morning as first thing to drink, and a lemon in a glass of water.

  9. Miso is magic. So many wonderful effects on heath. I personally love the stronger version. White is a less aged version, but my fave is Ohsawa Hatcho Miso. It is aged more and strong. You don’t need much. I don’t add any salt to my whole food diet, so don’t worry about the amount of sodium. Our muscles, including heart needs salt and potassium for a regular, strong twitch/beat. I use it every day. Doesn’t taste salty. It’s one of those food as medicine items that are a basic need for me.

    1. The supplement quercetin as well as nettle tea are great for hayfever :). I would be a bit of a sneezing mess without them.

  10. I found help after adding brown seaweed in Limu to my diet… I was always having issues with sinus, allergies… Didn’t realize mold in houses I rented was causing some… but my immune system was shot… I could only afford 2 ounces twice a day for awhile …… But It helped me sleep better, reduce and get rid of brain fog, reduced infections, got me off antibiotics ( which is good cause now have allergic reaction to even antibiotics from years of use~!) My immune system has improved, even helped with my crohns, which was good… I was given 2 days to 2 years….. No hope… But God’s food and nutrition in the great tasting LIMU has made them all take notice….. Am sure glad a friend shared Limu with me… Now, work to share Limu with others to help change their lives, too~!

  11. I have rhinitis from house dust as well as seasonal factors. I have suffered from this all my life including after changing to a plant based diet 15 months ago. One thing that aggravates my condition is if I drink red wine. I found out recently that this could be because of the high levels of histamine in the red wine. I’ve searched for more information about which foods have high levels of histamine but have found a lot of the information is contradictory. One source said that blueberries are high in histamine (same with tomatoes), but I think the plant based diet says that blueberries are anti inflammatory. (Can blueberries be both high in histamine and anti-inflammatory? aren’t they opposites.) Does anyone know if there is a good source of information about histamine and which foods have high levels? Is there any research that has been covered on Nutrition Facts?

  12. Hello Jem,
    I am a family doctor with a private practice emphasizing plant-based nutrition, and also am a volunteer with this website.

    Thank you for your question. You raise several issues, and it’s complicated. Rhinitis from house dust is extremely common and is a histamine-mediated response, which is why antihistamines such as loratidine (Claritin) can help. Food allergies can be due either to a reaction to circulating antigens, or can also result from a histamine reaction. You mention red wine, which also commonly causes people to get a stuffy or runny nose and other allergic symptoms. This often is due to reacting to sulfites, which are a common additive to wines. But wine allergy could also be due to its histamine content.

    I would recommend seeing a good allergist who has some expertise in food allergies. If you want to do a little reading, here are a few review abstracts of articles I found on PubMed. You can probably get a copy of the full article(s) if you want. — very recent review article about Ig-E mediated (i.e. histamine mediated) food allergies; is only an abstract. — another recent review about common food allergies; is also only an abstract. — another review about histamine mediated food allergies, abstract only.

    I hope this helps.
    Health Support Volunteer for

    1. Thanks for your reply Dr Jon. As you say it does seem to be a complicated subject and difficult to diagnose. I understand the point about sulfites. I don’t react the same to white wine which also contains the sulfites (but possible to a lesser extent).

      1. Hi Jem, thanks for your question. As Dr Jon indicated your body reaction to red wine is more to do with higher content of Histamine in red wine rather than white wine. Histamine is present in a variety of fermented products such as wine, aged cheeses, and sauerkraut. Red wine has 20–200% more histamine than white wine, and those who react to it may be deficient in the enzyme diamine oxidase. Maintz, Laura; Novak, N (May 2007). “Histamine and histamine intolerance”. American Society for Clinical Nutrition. 85 (5): 1185–1196.

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