you're sneezing day after day, even when you don't have a
cold, hay fever may be the cause. But don't worry, because
there is a potential solution to your problem: Recent research
suggests that certain fatty acids and antioxidants are more
likely to contribute to hay fever than previously thought.
Dr. Gabriele Nagel and colleagues gathered data from 334
adults with hay fever, and 1,336 adults without hay fever,
and noted the amount of fatty acids and antioxidants consumed
by members of each subject group. Those consuming large amounts
of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, an omega-3 type fatty acid)
were less likely to suffer from hay fever. On the other hand,
those consuming oleic acid (the most common fatty acid, typically
in olive oil) nearly tripled subjects' chances of having hay
Similarly, protective results were seen in diets rich in
vitamin E, although high beta-carotene (vitamin A) intake
appeared to increase the risk for hay fever. Some fatty acids
are converted into substances that can inhibit wheezing, sneezing
or other allergic symptoms. Yet since the process is not completely
understood, science is not quite ready to recommend cutting
down or adding to one's diet.
While study results don't warrant avoiding certain foods
definitively, and you may not personally be ready to stock
up on EPA or olive oil, or stop consuming carrots, it's a
good idea in general to pay attention to what you consume.
And doing something about that smoking habit, if you have
one, couldn't hurt, either: Smoking is a proven risk factor
for hay fever and other allergic conditions.
Nagel G, Nieters A, Becker N, Linseisen J. The influence
of the dietary intake of fatty acids and antioxidants on hay
fever in adults. Allergy December 2003;58(12):1277-1284.
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