Ugh. It’s allergy season, and it seems like everywhere I go people are sick. Sneezing, coughing, miserable. As a life long sufferer of seasonal allergies, I know that spring and fall are the worst times of year – when pollen counts are the highest. Spring is notorious for tree pollen and in the fall, it’s ragweed. Seasonal allergies leave you with chronically inflamed sinus cavities, itchy eyes, drainage, and a nagging cough.
Since cleaning up my diet, I’ve experienced relief from my allergies I never thought I could. They aren’t completely remedied – certain times of year I can tell my body wants to rev up and fight for no reason – but there is no comparison in how I used to feel to how I feel now.
If you’ve read anything about me on my blog, you know that I truly believe food has the power to heal and drastically improve how you feel. Food is information that actually communicates with your genes and influences your gene expression. Eating an anti-inflammatory diet gives your body nutrients that provide information so your body can accomplish necessary processes that reduce overall inflammation. For example, omega 6 fatty acids tell your body to ignite an inflammatory response, necessary to initiate healing when you are injured or sick, and omega 3 fatty acids tell your body to calm down and decrease inflammation.
Those of us that suffer from seasonal allergies have an immune system that recognizes various pollens in the air as foreign and potentially harmful, stimulating the processes necessary to take care of these threatening particles. Basically, our bodies immediately call all the troops into battle to fight and protect the body. During peak allergy season, our bodies are constantly in contact with these pollens, so our bodies are in a constant state of inflammation – in full attack mode all the time. When our bodies are perpetually inflamed, we feel sluggish, foggy-headed, and just plain yucky. Plus, inflammation puts us in a weak and vulnerable state, susceptible to other opportunistic viruses, bacteria, and fungus.
So how can we use food as information to tell our bodies to stop the inflammatory process? Eat those foods that provide nutrients that communicate to our bodies to calm down. An anti-inflammatory diet is really very simple looks like this: eat all of those natural foods that are not processed or packaged like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, pasture-raised eggs, wild fish, and naturally raised meats.
One example of an anti-inflammatory meal is this curry salmon salad. It’s quick and easy to make, and I can double the recipe to feed our family more than one meal.
I started with two 6 ounce salmon fillets – seasoned them with salt and pepper and then baked them at 325 degrees for 17-19 minutes. Do not over bake or the salmon becomes dry. I chose wild salmon from Alaska, which is rich in anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids in the most easily used form for our bodies – DHA and EPA. After the salmon fillets cooled, I used a fork to break up the fish.
Next I made an easy homemade mayonnaise with eggs from chickens fed an omega-3 rich diet. Packaged condiments are notorious for containing hidden sugar and gluten (which both promote inflammation), so I find it healthiest and freshest to just make my own most of the time. My favorite homemade mayonnaise recipe is from Mark’s Daily Apple: Homemade Ghee Mayo.
I chopped some purple onion, celery, and purple grapes to go in the salad. All three of these have anti-inflammatory nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin A, quercetin, and sulfur.
Spices with a kick are a potent decongestant, so whenever my allergies or a cold is flaring up, I liberally add them to my meals. Anyone who likes spicy foods knows they stimulate those mucous linings to break up and release, relieving congestion. Curry is a spice blend that originated in southeast Asia and usually contains mustard seeds, coriander, cumin, red chili powder, and turmeric (which is famous for its anit-inflammatory effect) and sometimes ginger, cinnamon, cloves, garlic, cardamom, and fennel too.
I combined the salmon, onions, celery, grapes, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, white wine vinegar, curry powder, slivered almonds, and a little sea salt in a medium sized bowl. After stirring the ingredients together, I served the curry salmon salad over a bed of spinach.
- 2 6 ounce wild salmon fillets
- ⅓ cup homemade mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- ¼ cup chopped purple onion
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 cup halved purple grapes
- ½ cup slivered almonds
- salt to taste
- Season salmon fillets with salt and pepper, and bake at 325 degrees for 17 - 19 minutes.
- Let salmon cool, transfer to a bowl, and break up fish with a fork.
- Combine salmon and the remaining ingredients in a medium sized bowl, and stir together.
- Serve over a bed of greens or wrapped in a lettuce leaf.