Probiotics are good for your gut, your mental health — and now, your seasonal allergies, according to new studies. As the Northern hemisphere faces the hotter months of spring, it's also that time of the year when those with allergies suffer from allergic rhinitis, as pollen and dust make their way into the noses of people with immune sensitized systems - but new research shows that yogurt's hay fever properties could greatly help in this situation.
Trees and flowers are brought back to life this time of the year in the northern countries, which leads to many from suffering allergic rhinitis, a condition similar to flu in symptoms, but in any case those suffering can alleviate the signs through yogurt's hay fever properties. Bacteria have a reputation for causing disease, so the idea of tossing down a few billion a day for your health might seem — literally and figuratively — hard to swallow. But a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that you can treat and even prevent some illnesses with foods and supplements containing certain kinds of live bacteria. Northern Europeans consume a lot of these beneficial microorganisms, called probiotics (from pro and biota, meaning “for life”), because of their tradition of eating foods fermented with bacteria, such as yogurt. Probiotic-laced beverages are also big business in Japan.
Researchers pored over data already collected from 23 randomized trials involving 1,900 people, with 17 trials showing people with seasonal allergies improved from probiotics which was published in the journal International Forum of Allergy & Rhinology. Participants who took either a probiotics supplement or ate probiotic-rich foods improved their allergy symptoms and overall quality of life. This is in comparison to study participants also with seasonal allergies taking a placebo.
Dr. Justin Turner, an ear, nose, and throat surgeon at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., led the study, and he explained to Live Science that the trials “used different strains of live bacteria, different dosages, and different probiotic supplement formulations over different periods of time.” So right now researchers can’t definitely say more probiotics will equal less seasonal allergy symptoms. And even if studies do arrive at this conclusion in the future, Turner added “it's unlikely they would replace the standard medical treatments currently used by people affected by them.”
The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI) reported 50 million Americans suffer from seasonal allergies. Grass, pollen, and mold are the most common triggers, which can lead to fits of sneezing, coughing, runny and/or itchy nose and eyes. It seems redundant to list these symptoms out, again, but according to a recent survey conducted by Harris Interactive, over half of polled Americans mistake signs of allergies for colds. Both allergies and cold can cause sneezing, coughing, runny and stuffy nose, and fatigue — yet colds only last up to 10 days; allergies persist for months.
What’s more are 75 percent of polled Americans thought antihistamines were the most effective way to treat allergies, whereas, Harris cited, “clinical data shows that nasal sprays are … the most effect way to treat allergies.” Either way, it’s best to consult with your doctor prior to taking any medication.
"The current study suggests that probiotics have the potential to alter disease severity, symptoms and quality of life in patients with allergic rhinitis (hay fever)," wrote the researchers behind the yogurt hay fever study, according to Express. "Positive outcomes were reported in a majority of studies with no significant adverse effects."
Outside medication, the ACAAI recommends monitoring pollen and mold counts through weather reports; keeping windows and doors shut at home; taking a shower after coming in from being outdoors; even wear a filter mask to mow the lawn and do other outdoors chores. Interestingly enough, yogurt isn't the only food item found to help alleviate this spring condition: locally sourced honey, which allows the body's immune system to protect itself from pollens in the air (as honey contains them); lemons and raspberries, as they're high on antioxidants; turmeric, which contains anti-inflammatory and anti-allergy properties; pineapples, which help the body clear the nose.
For those who suffer from this seasonal condition, it's time for some yogurt for hay fever! Here’s how else you can prepare for spring allergies.