After the seemingly never-ending winter, New Yorkers have welcomed spring with open arms, save for one thing -- allergies.
Thanks to the longer-than-usual freezing temperatures, trees are blooming later than usual, too, creating a perfect storm of overlapping tree pollen, grass pollen and mold seasons.
If you're looking for relief, Manhattan health journalist and chef Candice Kumai, author of "Clean Green Drinks," and a sufferer of mold allergies herself, suggests these five unconventional strategies to have in your arsenal that go beyond pills or shots.
"I've taken the organic route to fighting allergies," said Kumai. "I think if you follow these rules and eat well, you will be able to self-heal a bit and they won't be as severe.
"Of course, everyone's different, and you have to consult with a doctor for certain things," added Kumai. "But take a chance and try to fight an ailment through a natural source."
Think of this as your spring allergy survival guide.
Kumai recommends walnuts because they are high in antioxidants and omega-3s, which can "help reduce inflammation and relieve seasonal allergies," said the author. Oily fish like salmon are packed with those nutrients too. (Credit: iStock)
The probiotics in yogurt are believed to help balance bacteria levels in your gut, which can boost your immune system. "When your immunity is way up, you can really help to fight allergies naturally and decrease the chances of having allergy attacks," said Kumai. "It's helpful to have a diet that is high in probiotic foods to keep inflammation down." Kumai warns against yogurts that are high in sugar, recommending unsweetened Greek yogurt that has around 10 grams of sugar or less. (Credit: iStock)
Not only can cocoa powder be a deliciously sweet addition to a meal or snack, its packed with quercetin, an anti-inflammatory compound that studies have found can block the effect of histamines. "I tell people to put it in smoothies," said Kumai. "It [also] helps with anti-aging." (Credit: iStock)
Green tea is rich in quercetin, as well as the antioxidant epigallocatechin-3-gallate, which "can help to decrease mucus and help alleviate some allergies," said Kumai. (Credit: iStock)
Herbs like perennial stinging nettle have been found to help inhibit the inflammation that leads to hay fever. "Herbs are always a good choice," said Kumai. "They're natural and inexpensive." (Credit: iStock)