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Allergy Season-Tips for Relief

26 Apr
by Kristen, posted in Blog   |  9 Comments


Are you one of millions of Americans who are struggling through allergy season?  You just want to enjoy being outside without all the sneezing, itching, and congestion.  Ragweed, which is the largest culprit in seasonal allergies, grows faster as carbon dioxide increases in the atmosphere, according to the National Wildlife Federation and the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.  That being said, there is also much evidence showing that the pollen count is rising in parts of the U.S., as well as allergenic trees such as oaks and hickories.

Allergies cause an inflammatory response in the body.  For example, when pollen enters your nasal passages and lands on your mucous membranes, histamines are released.  These histamines set off a host of reactions to get rid of the intruder, such as sneezing, itching, watery eyes, etc.  Another reaction for some people is swelling in the bronchial tubes, which makes it difficult to breathe.

Personally, I have struggled with seasonal allergies for as long as I can remember.  I also suffered from chronic sinus infections, which would lead to secondary bacterial infections and a round of antibiotics.  I hated the feeling of constantly feeling sick and not being able to breathe.  Every night during allergy season, I would have to put eucalyptus oil under my nose to clear my sinuses.  I grew up sticking my head over a pot of an herb solution that my mom made up for me so I could find relief.  In college, I was so desperate for a quick fix that I popped Claritin or Zyrtec on a regular basis and still never got complete relief.  Today, I’m happy to say that I’m symptom free.  No more sinus infections or seasonal allergy issues, and I feel great!  The main solution was in my diet: I took away inflammatory foods.

TIPS TO BEAT ALLERGIES NATURALLY:
The goal is to build up the immune system by avoiding inflammatory foods and enjoying anti-inflammatory foods.

1. During allergy season, avoid sugary products and grains, especially wheat as these foods worsen your allergies.

2. Avoid or limit pasteurized dairy products. Some people may need to be completely casein free (the protein found in milk).

3. Eat more raw fruits & vegetables, which will improve your immune system. Raw foods contain more enzymes, which are essential for the digestive system to work.  Heating foods to a high temperature kills the enzymes, and a lack of digestive enzymes can be a factor in food allergies.  For many people, the underlying cause of seasonal allergies are food sensitivities and food allergies.  Your body (nasal passages, sinuses, etc) may already be inflamed and the seasonal pollen and other triggers only worsen this inflammation.  A food allergy blood test, which can test over 350 potential allergens, may be beneficial for you.  You may not have any food allergies or sensitivities, but most people find that if they at least eliminate wheat and dairy, they see remarkable differences in their symptoms.  Mine completely disappeared when I eliminated these 2 common allergenic foods.  Try it for a few weeks, and let me know how you feel.

4. Eat raw, local honey daily.  The reason why local is so important is that the bees in your area are traveling from flower to flower, collecting nectar from the same plants that are causing your allergy problems.  By eating raw honey from the bees in your area, you are building your body’s immune response to these plants.

5. Of course it’s best to eat foods high in these nutrients, but if that’s hard for you, then take these supplements:

  • Quercetin: Natural plant-derived bioflavonoid that helps to prevent mast cells from releasing histamine.  Foods high in this compound are: citrus fruits, apples, onions, broccoli, and parsley. However, allergy sufferers usually need supplemental form. Start taking supplement before allergy season for better protection.  (500-1,000 mg per day)
  • Vitamin C:  Powerful antioxidant that boosts the immune system
  • Vitamin D: Most people’s levels are low.  Get your levels checked & aim for a goal of 65.
  • Bromelain: Found in pineapple. It’s a proteolytic enzyme that reduces inflammation.
  • Probiotic:  Puts good bacteria in your gut

So if you’re miserable during allergy season, there is hope for you.  You can overcome these allergies, naturally.  Happy Spring!

Naturally Yours,
xoxoxo
Kristen M. Pardue, RD, LDN

 

Eating Organic on a Budget

05 Apr
by Kristen, posted in Blog   |  16 Comments

Of course it would be ideal to be able to eat all foods organic, but I understand that is just not possible for everyone.  The major dilemma I hear from most people is that they cannot afford to buy organic foods.  While eating organic tends to be pricier, it will save you money in the long run due to less medical expenses later on down the road.  Pesticides, found on many of our foods, are said to be linked to cancer, hypothyroidism, ADHD, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple other health problems.

5 TIPS FOR EATING ORGANIC ON A BUDGET:

  1. Buy produce in season & buy local. When you purchase fruits and vegetables when they’re in season, you save a great deal of money.  Not to mention, the produce tastes better and lasts longer. (It isn’t sitting in a truck traveling across the country, before it gets to you.)  I love this time of year because the farmers’ markets begin to flourish with colorful foods for your plate.  Another great option is to join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).  Some CSA’s and farmers’ markets are certified organic, and some do not use pesticides or fertilizers but are not certified organic. The great thing about them is that you can actually speak to the person who produced the food, and ask them how they grow it.  To find out more about CSA’s and to find one near you, go here.
  2. Grow your own organic garden. I understand this isn’t an option for everyone.  For example, I live in a townhouse and our HOA doesn’t allow us to plant anything in the ground.  For those of us who cannot grow our own, a great idea is to have an indoor herb or small patio garden.
  3. Avoid buying processed food. It’s a lot more expensive than making things from scratch and storing/freezing in bulk.  It’s also much healthier to make your own foods, because you are able to control what goes in them.  Examples of things to make yourself: Breads, granola bars, trail mix, cookies, etc.
  4. Enjoy meatless Mondays. As you know, meat can be pricey, so a great way to save money is to celebrate “Meatless Mondays” with your family.  See what great recipes you can come up with together that do not include meat.  Great substitutes for meat are beans and lentils.  At our house, we love using black beans instead of meat in our spaghetti and tacos.
  5. Cut those coupons. Even the organic companies have coupons.  Check out sites like Faithfulprovisions.com and click on “Coupons,” then scroll down to “Natural & Organic Coupons.”  Another great way to find organic coupons is to visit the companies’ website. Here are a few: Stonyfieldfarms.com, Mambosprouts.com, WholeFoods, etc.  I actually emailed Amy’s, and they were so kind to send me a coupon booklet in the mail for their organic products.  Love me some coupons!

If you can’t buy all your produce organic, here is the list of the “dirty dozen” fruits and vegetables.  These are the ones that have the highest pesticide count, so consider these a must-buy organic:

  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Bell Peppers
  • Celery
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Blueberries
  • Grapes (Imported)
  • Spinach
  • Kale/Collard Greens
  • Potatoes

Here is a printable version of EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides.

In my opinion, other foods that should be bought organic are meat and dairy.  Animal products have added antibiotics and hormones added to them, which is increasing antibacterial resistance in humans, and causing a host of other issues.  (We’ll talk about this on a different blog post.)  It’s important to know where your food is coming from.  (If you don’t believe me, watch the documentary, “Food, Inc.”)

A short book that I recommend you all read is “Food Rules” by Michael Pollan, who is featured in the above documentary.  This easy to read book has simple rules to live by when trying to eat wisely.

I hope this post helps you as you start eating more organic foods!

Naturally Yours,
xoxoxo
Kristen M. Pardue, RD, LDN


Going Local

21 Mar
by Kristen, posted in Blog   |  1 Comments


I hope everyone had a great weekend!  I know I did, and wanted this next post to be more light and fun about my beautiful Saturday in East Nashville.  We went to The Green Wagon for their Spring Reopening Celebration.  The Green Wagon is an all-natural/sustainable general store featuring local products.  I absolutely loved walking through the store and gazing at all of the natural items such as candles, makeup, soaps, homemade cleaning products, baby clothes, and the list goes on.  For those of you who can’t seem to find natural products in your area, The Green Wagon’s online store is coming soon, so be sure to check out their website periodically. http://thegreenwagon.com.

Aunt April’s Bakery just launched her new location at the Green Wagon, and I was able to taste her delicious gluten free cupcakes.  My husband got to try Nashville’s newest local beer, the Nashvillion, and a delicious grilled cheese sandwich from The Grilled Cheeserie. Being at this event and seeing all of the support from the local community really motivated me to buy local more often.

You may be asking how you can help to support your local community. Here are some tips for you:

  • Shop at your local Farmer’s Market for fresh produce & handmade items. Go to this site to find one closest to you.  Local food is more flavorful & doesn’t need to be injected with preservatives to make it endure the long trip across the country like most produce in a chain grocery store.  Also, you can have a peace of mind just by knowing exactly where your food came from.
  • Support your local businesses. Instead of always eating out at chain restaurants, try a local restaurant in your area that you’ve never experienced. It could end up being your favorite!  Other examples of local businesses to support include coffee shops, boutiques, & supermarkets.  Their products may be a little more expensive than their national brand counterparts, but more of their profit stays in the community.

When your local community is thriving, it provides more opportunities for everyone.

How are you keeping it local?

Naturally Yours,
xoxoxo
Kristen Pardue, RD, LDN

Sneak peak into next post: Celiac Disease vs. Gluten Sensitivity