As the seasons change this year and bring on colder temperatures and earlier nights, you may realize that you might be sneezing more or feel run down with a stuffy nose. The winter, despite its dryness and dormant plants, is abundant with allergens. While the spring evokes sneezing from pollen and summer from grass; the dryness of winter often provokes winter allergies. Winter allergies are triggered by increased time indoors, thus exposing us to allergens in our homes.
Common winter allergies include dust, mold, and pet fur. These allergies spur a variety of effects, such as a cough, sneezing, runny nose, and itchy throat. The dryness of winter exacerbates these symptoms for two reasons. First: when humidity levels drop, the dust and mold becomes airborne and more easily enters your body. Second: dry air dries out nasal passages and membranes, which makes it all-too-easy for allergens to enter your body.
Luckily, plenty of methods exist to reduce the effects of winter allergies. Exterior methods include vacuuming more frequently, using lotion, and setting up an air purifier. But, eating the right foods can also lead to a better prevention against your winter allergies – and TCM understands the correct herbs and foods to aid you this winter. Through TCM, we can adjust our food to aid in the conservation of energy and building of strength that the winter requires of us.
True to the common saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”, apples have many great health benefits. They help regulate blood sugar, have high fiber and antioxidant counts, and improve large intestine digestion. Aside from these regular benefits, TCM categorizes apples as cooling foods. In the winter, when our bodies accumulate heat, it is important to consume these cooling foods that clear heat and eliminate toxins. Apples will moisten airways and cool the lungs. It is recommended, if you have a cold nature, to bake apples with a sprinkle of cinnamon in order to moderate their cooling effect.
Dark Leafy Vegetables
Dark leafy vegetables, such as asparagus, kale, and Kohlrabi, are excellent sources of fiber, magnesium, and iron – all essential components for a balanced diet. In addition, they contain folate, which promotes brain health.
As for TCM, these dark leafy greens are categorized as cooling and calming foods. Asparagus works against allergies by clearing and purifying the lungs from those toxins found indoors. In TCM, asparagus tonifies yin – or cooler, water-heavy foods. TCM suggests preparing wild asparagus by eating it raw or cooking it with herbs.
Kale is considered to be a warming food that is known to stop pain and inflammation, which is important as winter dryness can spur muscle aches. It also tonifies and purifies blood. and Kale also is a great antioxidant that provides an abundance of nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin K, and calcium. In fact, in traditional medicine, kale has been used to treat stomach ulcers!
Kohlrabi, also called turnip cabbage, is leafy green that TCM labels as neutral. Kohlrabi helps with qi – life force – circulation, blood circulation, and eliminates toxins. These special properties of kale all help reduce the effects of dryness and winter allergies you may experience! Some ways to cook this veggie include stir fry or hollowing out the core and stuffing it with meat or rice.
Tomatoes are not only great for their versatility in foods, like adding to a salad or simmering down in a stew, but also because they have many health benefits. One such being a high amount of the antioxidant lycopene, which is linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. TCM highlights other benefits, like the fruit’s ability to cool the body and promote detoxification. Like asparagus, tomatoes also tonify yin. Tomatoes also have many anti-inflammatory properties that help with symptoms of asthma.
Perilla leaf has a minty flavor that elevates simple stews, wraps, and pickled in many Korean dishes. In TCM, the perilla leaf is a warm food that treats the respiratory tract by targeting the nose, throat, and ears. The leaves are associated with the lung and spleen meridians. When we accumulate too much “cold” in our bodies, we need to eat foods that balance out the yin and yang; one such food is the perilla leaf. According to research, the leaf is great for inhibiting lung inflammation, which is a common symptom for winter allergies. Adding perilla leaf to your meals is a simple way to prevent coughs, treat colds, and consume antioxidants..
Fatty fish are another great preventive allergy food. Fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, sardines, and mackerel offer an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial to heart health. Fatty fish support Qi and healthy movement of blood. Most fatty fish – like salmon – are warm foods. And as winter months bring cold, eating these foods can promote harmony in your body temperature and blood. As a note, in TCM, high consumption of raw fish can weaken the spleen and digestive system.
Keep Those Passageways Clear
While winter allergies may be unavoidable, TCM offers many simple solutions to mitigate the effects of dust and dryness that try to bring you down. In combination with the 5 foods we just discussed, using Noo Air will aid your allergies this season and the seasons after. Noo Air is a daily supplement that will boost your immunity and ease any congestion and promote healthy airflow.
As winter is now well on its way, it’s important to keep bundled up when heading outdoors and to wear socks or shoes around the house. In addition to warmth, eating balanced and nourishing foods will keep you and your family healthy. Winter allergies may not disappear, but we can do our best to fight them!