msn health and fitness
CHALLENGING A SUMMER OF SNIFFLES
While no medicine is ever a guarantee of health, we’ve compiled the least fussy and most accessible natural weapons to help you tackle the allergies you may expect from summer. Ready?
Naturally anti-bacterial and warming, it’s admittedly hard to enjoy the heat of ginger when even the summer mornings start out sticky. However, ginger is one of those herbs—like black cumin and fenne—which make up for their spice factor with their sheer antioxidant content. Introduce it to your latest soup or just steep it with cayenne for a tea that’s even delicious cold. You’ll thank yourself later.
Blessed, anti-inflammatory peppermint. It’s hard to find, and therefore hard to put into salads, but a cup of freshly steeped peppermint always does the trick in both liberating your sinuses and cooling you from the inside out. The perfect summer project would be to grow your own mint and stay stocked on iced tea for all emergencies. With a touch of honey and lemon or even without, peppermint tea is the closest thing we have to a fan in a teacup.
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MIX IT INTO YOGHURT
Yogurt is both cooling and chock-full of probiotics. Translation: you’ll digest your food better, and your immune system correspondingly be in better shape to stave off infections and allergies. You can always buy probiotics in pill form and start popping, but it’s infinitely more pleasurable to substitute your dessert ice-cream with a granola parfait instead, don’t you think?
Clear out your airways and breathe easier, ’nuff said. Or perhaps not—sweat off excess fats and keep your metabolism up with spice. There, ’nuff said.
SWIM IN KIMCHI SOUP
Like ginger, it seems counter-intuitive to go for spicy soup when the summer around is hot enough as it is. But fermented foods are rich in calcium, iron and vitamin A and C, and they are incredibly helpful when it comes to good intestinal health. It definitely helps when the spice of kimchi cuts through your sinuses cleanly and restores your nose, but trust your gut, literally. It can handle the pickled taste—in fact, it’s pining for it, amidst the relative tameness of other summer foods.
Known for its intensely refreshing, mind-clearing smell, the scent of eucalyptus is especially bracing and in fact can encourage steam inhalation and the clearing of nasal passages. While there is yet to be science that links eucalyptus concretely to anti-inflammation, a few drops in the bath or the shower floor can really turn a day around.
GET STEAMY WITH IT
Boil some water, pour it into a bowl and bend your face over the bowl with a towel forming a tent over both you and the bowl. Moisten your nasal passages, open them up, and open up the pores on your face while your at it. Be careful not to lean in too low or too long—you don’t want to burn yourself with steam—but never underestimate the power of wet heat in flushing your system of pollen and excess, clogging mucous.
EMBRACE THE NETTLE
A naturally occurring anti-histamine, nettle leaves can be ingested in a steeped tea or bought in a concentrated tablet form, in health food stores. An over-dependence on this herb is not recommended despite it’s detoxifying properties, but for the summer months, a touch of cold nettle leaf tea will go a long way on lazy weekday evenings and hungover morning-afters alike.
INDULGE IN HONEY
Sweet, indestructible, anti-bacterial honey is a champion on this list. Yummy with yogurt and some berries, and equally as yummy in a yogurt-honey-lemon face or hair mask. Long used as a folk remedy, they say that eating local honey—at least a spoonful a day—acclimatizes you to the pollen and particles already found in your surroundings. You easily build up a resistance to allergies waiting to happen, and you can weed out the unhealthy sugars in your life as well.
TREAT YOURSELF WITH SOME HONEYCOMB
Easily the most attractive candidate on this list, honeycomb gives you both a yummy burst of honey and a generous helping of beeswax, which you can either ingest or spit out. Of course this sounds weird, and it isn’t often discussed, but the beeswax–which we cannot digest–will roll its way out of your system in due time, and scrape your intestinal tract clean on its way. Be careful not to make this a daily treat, however. Too much beeswax will clog up your system and make going to the loo very painful.
PUMP UP THE POLLEN
It’s best to start on pollen a full month before your allergies are expected to kick in. Definitely avoid this if you’re deathly allergic to bee pollen, but if you’ve just expecting an annoying sneeze-fest, start introducing trace, tiny spoonfuls of pollen to your smoothies and yogurts well in advance of the sunshine season.Bitter when tasted by itself, pollen is nonetheless a high source of protein, and introducing it into your system beefs up the flora in your digestive tract as well. Bee pollen is still being investigated at length for its useful properties, but a tiny rundown can also easily be found if you’re wondering.
GET NOSY WITH A NETI POT
Perhaps the least glamorous recommendation on this list, using a neti pot involves flushing your sinuses with saline solution, rinsing your nose of pollen, other allergens and excess mucous in the process.Go nostril by nostril, use only distilled or boiled water, and follow instructions closely. After the first time you almost entirely douse yourself with salt water, remember this is for health. Try again.
Rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, fish oils are best swallowed whole as a pill—bite into one at your own peril. Bitter as they are, fish oils promote healthy bone growth, have been said to aid in fat loss and perhaps even save you from some of the harsher pollutive elements around us.
SOAK A RED ONION
There is little appeal in slicing up red onions and soaking them overnight, but you’ll be rewarded for your tears on first sip. Onions are traditionally recognized as cooling agents in a time of heat: their natural pungence opens up airways so you can breathe better, and they carry quercetin, popularly touted as a natural anti-histamine. Quercetin pills are easily bought over the counter as well, but we know you can handle a bit of legwork for your own health.
TURN UP THE TURMERIC
A homeopathic powerhouse, turmeric contains curucumin, which decongests and is naturally warming, warding off colds. A staple spice in many Indian dishes, a search for turmeric may be a good excuse to eat out, but dropping a spoonful into your own meat marinade or green milkshake is never going to hurt. Still unsure? Whip up a turmeric booster and talk to us after!
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