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This Morning: Liz Earle gives hay fever remedy recommendations

Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, pills with 223 on them is an over-reactive immune response to usually harmless substances such as pollen and grass, triggering the release of IgE antibodies and the inflammatory substance histamine. According to Elizabeth Cooper, Technical Advisor at Bio-Kult, nutrition is a critical determinant of immune responses.

She explained: “As hay fever is essentially an inflammatory condition, following an anti-inflammatory diet, high in antioxidants and phytonutrients from colourful fruit and vegetables, and omega 3 fatty acids from oily fish, hemp and linseed is advisable.

“Certain foods high in the flavonol quercetin may be particularly beneficial, due to its anti-allergic activity.”

She continued: “The main food sources of quercetin are vegetables such as onions, garlic and broccoli, fruits such as apples, berries and grapes, some herbs and tea.  

“Reducing stress levels and ensuring good quality sleep is also recommended.”

Supplements are a good way for people to make sure they’re getting enough essential nutrients and to maintain or improve their health.

Elizabeth named 12 supplements: “A 2020 systematic review of the literature found promising evidence for apple polyphenols, tomato extract, spirulina, chlorophyll, honey, conjugated linoleic acid, MSM, quercetin, vitamins C, D and E, and live bacteria supplements in hay fever.”

She added: “In particular, research suggests that live bacteria supplements, such as Bio-Kult Everyday (RRP £10.48 available to buy from containing 14 different strains, may benefit hay fever sufferers via interactions with the immune system, which modify the natural course of allergic disease.

“For example, a study published at the end of 2019 showed that live bacteria supplementation for eight weeks with a multi-strain product by individuals with hay fever reduced overall symptom severity, the frequency of medication use and improved quality of life.

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“These findings are similar to a 2017 study that found that supplementing with a multi-strain live bacteria formula containing lactobacillus and bifidobacterium species for 8 weeks helped to alleviate hay fever symptoms and improved quality of life during allergy season in hay fever sufferers.

“Although beneficial effects of live bacteria supplementation have been shown even when commenced at the height of allergy symptoms, it is hypothesised that they may be even more effective when taken for a period prior to hay fever season as a preventative measure.”

There’s currently no cure for hay fever and it cannot be prevented, but the NHS does recommend the following:

  • put Vaseline around your nostrils to trap pollen
  • wear wraparound sunglasses to stop pollen getting into your eyes
  • shower and change your clothes after you have been outside to wash pollen off
  • stay indoors whenever possible
  • keep windows and doors shut as much as possible
  • vacuum regularly and dust with a damp cloth
  • buy a pollen filter for the air vents in your car and a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter
  • try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people if you have a high temperature or you do not feel well enough to do your normal activities

Some experts believe changes in weather patterns and the impact on plant life may see a rise in hay fever symptoms.

Elizabeth said: “Our weather already has ramifications for hay fever sufferers, as pollen production and dispersion is very much dependent on levels of rain, wind and sunshine.  

“When there is plenty of sunshine and rain, pollen producing grasses can grow more readily, whilst dry weather reduces this production. Conversely, rain prevents pollen from being dispersed, helping it to be cleared from the air, whilst warm, breezy weather can help to spread pollen more easily.  

“With the belief by some experts that climate change may be heating up our summers in the UK and extending the growing season of pollen producing plants because of earlier springs and later winters, this could be particularly bad news for hay fever sufferers.”

In addition to this, Elizabeth said hot weather can make air pollution worse – another problem for those with hay fever.

She explained: “This is because when a heatwave occurs, high atmospheric pressure, which is responsible for the heatwave, results in a layer of stagnant air sitting just above ground level. This captures air pollutants and unfortunately increases their density.  

“Researchers now believe that when pollen interacts with high levels of air pollution, such as that seen across many of the cities in the UK, its allergic effect may be heightened. This is because vehicle fumes and other air pollutants may form a barrier that traps pollen, preventing it from escaping to the upper atmosphere, meaning that even relatively low levels of pollen in the air could cause worse hay fever symptoms.

“This creates an even bigger issue for hay fever sufferers, particularly those in big cities such as London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow, which have higher rates of air pollution.  Some experts now even believe pollution level forecasts may be just as important as pollen counts for hay fever sufferers going forward.”

If your symptoms of hay fever are getting worse or your symptoms don’t improve after taking medicines from the pharmacy, see a GP.

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