Foods That Can Cause or Worsen Congestion

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Hi all! Whether it’s Spring or Fall,  many of us find  the delights of of the season often bring pollen and allergies. Did you know that while you may be eating healthy, some of those foods may be causing histamines, worsening your allergies and congestion? And for those of you who suffer from regular sinusitis (inflammation or swelling of the tissues lining the sinuses), there’s some good info here that might at least help bring you relief!

You’re going to read the word “histamines” a lot when it relates to allergies. So, what are they? They’re chemicals that your immune system makes. They help your body get rid of something that’s bothering you; in this case, an allergy, trigger, or “allergen.”
Histamines are part of your body’s defense system. They start the process that hustles those allergens out of your body or off your skin. They can make you sneeze, tear up, or itch. Whatever it takes to get the job done.
Doctors will sometimes prescribe “anti-histamines” when we’re congested to lessen the causes of too much histamine in our bodies. How about looking at food, too, as an “antihistamine?”

Foods That Can Cause or Worsen Congestion and Sinusitis: Who Knew?

  • Christy Begien | Christy's Non Toxic Lifestyle

    Any alcohol can worsen congestion due to the sugar levels.

    Alcohol and Wine – Sugar and Alcohol are the biggest pro-inflammatory foods we consume.

  • Chocolate – Contains refined sugar.
  • Dairy – Yes, (sorry), cheese and milk promote mucus production, and takes longer to leave the body.
  • Fish – Watch for Tuna, which is high in inflammation causing histamines.
  • Fruits – Strawberries, Watermelon, Plums, Raspberries, Papaya and Bananas. The proteins in Oranges can mimic grass pollen which can add to allergy issues.
  • Gluten – Wheat can be a big culprit in worsening congestion.
  • Grains – Oats, Corn, and Buckwheat.
  • Herbs – Rosemary, Thyme, Paprika and Turmeric.
  • Legumes – Black beans and chickpeas, along with lentils can cause worsening issues.
  • Nuts – Tree nuts, such as …
  • Christy Begien | Christy's Non Toxic Lifestyle

    Pizza is the triple whammy, with gluten, cheese and tomato sauce.

    Red Meat – Its high protein causes excess mucus.

  • Refined Sugar – Very inflammatory and can increase yeast in the body, causing bacteria overgrowth.
  • Spicy Foods – Actually create more histamines, which compound allergy issues.
  • Tomatoes – Can trigger an increase in histamine levels, promoting mucus production. They also contain acidity which can increase acid reflux issues.
  • Vegetables – Cauliflower and pickled vegetables.
  • PIZZA – Cheese, gluten in the crust and the tomato sauce. A triple whammy!

Here are a few other examples:

Christy Begien | Christy's Non Toxic Lifestyle

All red meat should be avoided when congested.

Christy Begien | Christy's Non Toxic Lifestyle

Refined sugar and/or gluten  can wreck havoc on the sinuses.

Christy Begien | Christy's Non Toxic Lifestyle

Strawberries and bananas sadly make congestion worse.

I think we can agree that there are many healthy foods on this list. However, it might be worth cutting back when we’re in allergy season or coming down with a cold.

Foods that help with congestion and allergies are: yogurt, local honey, fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, onions and peppers, high in quercetin, along with apples. Tropical fruits like pineapple are high in Vitamin C and bromelain which also aid with congestion.

And here are a few tips for bringing relief, promoting drainage, AND preventing sinus congestion:

  1. Christy Begien | Christy's Non Toxic Lifestyle

    Nasal irrigation can help flush allergens out.

    Stay hydrated (thins mucus, causing more drainage).

  2. Try a Neti pot or other nasal irrigator to flush irritants from your sinuses (I do this twice a day and it helps a lot).
  3. Look into a humidifier which helps thin mucus.
  4. Take warm showers-breathing warm steam also moistens the sinuses.
  5. Place a warm towel over your nose to bring relief and promote drainage.
  6. Try nasal decongestants-I use Flonase twice a day (it’s over the counter) for clearing my congestion. Be careful with Afrin, though. Afrin works quickly but it causes a rebound or worsening effect if you use it more than three days in a row.

Over the years, I’ve found that adding or eliminating certain foods has helped me determine which foods my body might not like. There are so many healthy foods on the list above, however, when I’m in full on allergy or cold mode, I pull way back on eating them. I do find much relief from that. Then, I just gradually reintroduce them when I’m feeling better.

Our bodies do an amazing job of letting us know what doesn’t agree with them, I think.
It’s just about paying close attention. And why not give our sacred bodies a leg up when they’re working hard to keep us healthy.

Breathe Easy, Friends!

Christy Begien | The Non Toxic Lifestyle


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Healthy Eating: Bianca Mendez 4/2/202


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