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  • Rates of allergies seem to be increasing like wildfire throughout industrial nations. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, sensitization rates to one or more common allergens in children have increased by 40–50 percent worldwide.1 And 30–35 percent of the world’s population are expected to experience allergies at some stage in their lifetime.2 With the rise in industrial pollutants and the fall in healthy eating patterns, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the number of allergy sufferers is going to continue to grow. So what is an allergy anyway? An allergy is defined as the immune system’s answer to any substance that the body considers as foreign (allergen). In response to the so-called foreign substance, the immune system generates a series of reactions that eventually lead to the production and release of an immune antibody called IgE and a substance called histamine. IgE along with histamine, are called into action in order to neutralize the foreign substance. Inflammation in various parts of the body is the usual end reaction to allergens. The problem is, excess inflammation is also a leading cause of disease these days.3

    The body’s ability to detect foreign substances varies from person to person. Thus, some people react to certain substances while others do not. What may be recognized by one person’s body as foreign is not recognized as such by another person’s body.

    While allergies are part of the normal function of the immune system, it does not follow that they cannot be managed or minimized. Certain nutrients, when taken in the right amounts, can go a long way in minimizing—if not totally eliminating—the unpleasant symptoms of allergies. Following are my top nutrients for beating allergies:

    1. Vitamin C
    Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps reduce allergy symptoms like inflammation. It has been shown in past medical studies that a high intake of vitamin C prevents or at least minimizes the release of histamine, and consequently decreases the unpleasant sensations endured by allergy sufferers.4

    Vitamin C can be readily added into the diet, because of the many fruits and vegetables that contain it. Citrus fruits like oranges and lemons contain very high amounts of vitamin C in its most natural form. Excellent non-citrus sources include papaya, pineapple, and strawberries. Aside from fruits, vitamin C can also be obtained from over-the-counter supplement tablets or capsules and one of the best forms to consume it in is camu camu berry.

    2. Selenium
    Selenium is a trace element that is a component of some proteins with powerful antioxidant properties. These proteins help reduce allergy symptoms by minimizing tissue damage and inflammation.5 The U.S. National Institute of Health recommends that all adults take 100 mcg of selenium daily. Fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and whole grains are rich sources of selenium. Meat sources include poultry (turkey and chicken), lean pork, beef, and eggs.

    3. Omega-3 fats
    Also known as healthy fats, omega-3 fatty acids have long been proven by science to have anti-inflammatory properties. As such, they help relieve some allergy symptoms. On the other hand, the structurally-related omega-6 fatty acids have the opposite effect: they stimulate the production of inflammatory substances. In fact, one study appearing in the British Journal of Nutrition, indicated that pregnant women who had a lower intake of omega-6 and a higher intake of omega-3’s, gave birth to children with lower risks of certain allergies.6 Allergy sufferers are therefore advised to decrease intake of foods that are rich in omega-6 fatty acids (i.e. poultry, eggs, nuts, cereals, durum wheat, whole-grain breads and most vegetable oils). Dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids include cold-water fish, soybeans, flaxseeds, spinach, parsley, walnut oil, soybean oil, and flaxseed oil.

    4. Vitamin E
    Vitamin E, when taken in proper amounts, can help reduce allergies. A study investigating the connection between vitamin E and allergies suggested that sufficient vitamin E intake decreased the production of IgE, the antibody responsible for allergic reactions, anywhere from 34–62 percent.7,8

    Dietary sources of vitamin E are sunflower seeds, almonds, cooked spinach, safflower oil, and beet greens. And even though the RDA for vitamin E is fifteen milligrams (which is equivalent to 22 IUs or International Units), studies indicate a lot more than the RDA is needed to ensure optimal health. Also, I highly advise the most natural forms of vitamin E, as mixed tocopherols, as opposed to only one isolate form like alpha tocopherol.

    5. Quercetin
    Quercetin belongs to a class of organic molecules called bioflavonoids. Scientific research has proven it to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-histamine properties. Quercetin has been shown to exert properties that prevent the production of substances involved in allergic reactions.9 Sources of quercetin include apples, black tea, red wine, onions, beans, grapefruit, berries, peppers and green leafy vegetables. There are also commercial quercetin supplements that are sold online and in health food stores, should the allergic person choose to take it in tablet or capsule form.

    6. Probiotics
    Probiotics is the collective term for the live microorganisms (bacteria and yeast) that are essential for optimal health. These microorganisms are present in the body, as well as in various supplements, drinks, and food (i.e. yogurt made fron grassfed cows). Their main role is to prevent the growth of “bad” bacteria, and in doing so, also prevent diseases brought about by these “bad” bacteria. There are two very common probiotic bacteria—Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum. One of the most research proven shelf-stable forms of the latter is found in my Ultimate Probiotic,10,11 product.

    While probiotics are usually involved in digestive health, studies have suggested that they can also help prevent or minimize allergies12, since digestive health is very closely connected to overall body health.

    Foods with probiotics include miso, fermented milk, kefir, sourdough bread, tempeh, and fermented vegetables like sauerkraut.

    7. Rosmarinic acid
    Rosmarinic acid is a plant substance that is found in large amounts in herbs like rosemary, marjoram, sage, and oregano. Studies have shown that it has anti-inflammatory properties that are more potent than those of vitamin E. In 2004, Japanese researchers published a paper that demonstrated the ability of rosmarinic acid as a therapeutic substance for those who suffer from asthma.13 Rosmarinic acid seems to prevent allergic reactions by blocking the activation of biochemicals produced by the immune system in response to a foreign substance.14

    1. Pawankar R, et al. World Health Organization. White Book on Allergy 2011–2012 Executive Summary.
    2. Why is Allergy Increasing? Allergy UK.
    3. Li L. Biologist studies possible link between chronic low-grade inflammation, major diseases. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Jun 12, 2011.
    4. Johnston CS, Solomon RE, Corte C. Vitamin C depletion is associated with alterations in blood histamine and plasma free carnitine in adults. J Am Coll Nutr. 1996 Dec;15(6):586–91.
    5. Kamer B, et al. Role of selenium and zinc in the pathogenesis of food allergy in infants and young children. Arch Med Sci. See comment in PubMed Commons below 2012 Dec 20;8(6):1083–8. doi: 10.5114/aoms.2012.32420. Epub 2012 Dec 19.
    6. Nwaru BI, et al. Maternal intake of fatty acids during pregnancy and allergies in offspring. Br J Nutr. 2012 Aug;108(4):720–32. doi: 10.1017/S0007114511005940. Epub 2011 Nov 9.
    7. Yamada K, Tachibana H. Recent topics in antioxidative factors. Biofactors. 2000;13(1-4):167–72.
    8. Tsoureli-Nikita, et al. Evaluation of dietary intake of vitamin E in the treatment of atopic dermatitis: a study of the clinical course and evaluation of the immunoglobulin E serum levels. Int J Dermatol. 2002 Mar;41(3):146–50.
    9. Salvatore Chirumbolo. Dietary Assumption of Plant Polyphenols and Prevention of Allergy. Current Pharmaceutical Design, 2014, 20, 000-000 1.
    10. Ballongue J, et al. Effects of Bifidobacterium fermented milks on human intestinal Lait 73, 249–256 (1993).
    11. Tomoda T, et al. Effect of yogurt and yogurt supplemented with Bifidobacterium and/or lactulose in healthy persons : A comparative study. Bifidobacteria Microfloa 10, 123–30 (1991).
    12. Prakash S, et al. Probiotics for the prevention and treatment of allergies, with an emphasis on mode of delivery and mechanism of action. Curr Pharm Des. 2014;20(6):1025–37.
    13. Osakabe N, et al. Anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic effect of rosmarinic acid (RA); inhibition of seasonal allergic rhinoconjunctivitis (SAR) and its mechanism. Biofactors. 2004;21(1-4):127–31.
    14. Huang SS, Zheng RL. Rosmarinic acid inhibits angiogenesis and its mechanism of action in vitro. Cancer Letters. 2006 Aug 8;239(2):271–80. Epub 2005 Oct 18.
  • The term “Superfood” was first used in the 1990s when a cookbook that was co-written by Dr. Michael Van Straten, a practitioner of alternative medicine, appeared in the bookshops. It was titled Superfoods and it claimed to provide the reader with information regarding various nutrients to help the body improve resistance against diseases and stress. Since that time, “superfoods” is primarily associated with fruits, vegetables and any other food products that are considered to be healthy for the body.

    As time progressed, however, nutritious Mother Nature made foods that once held the superfood distinction, were overthrown by exotic foods, as if they were the only ones now worthy of the superfoods monarchy. In fact, the superfoods term has been used so frequently by food and product promoters over the past decade, the public now believes that these exotic foods have near-magical qualities to compensate for their high prices.

    Whenever a scientific study provides evidence regarding a positive effect of some chemical property or properties found in a so-called superfood, that superfoods promotional influence is instantly boosted and more companies can jump on the superfood bandwagon.

    This is yet another reason why food promoters are constantly searching for yet undiscovered sources of remarkable nutrients. The public is continuously bombarded with new food products that allegedly can provide all sorts of healthy benefits to the body single-handedly. Over the years, the term “superfood” has retained its appeal to the public but it is now used mainly to create hype about a product to make it more marketable. With all the marketing gimmicks aside, what really constitutes a superfood?

    Up until now, there is no scientifically accepted definition of “superfood.” As mentioned, the term is generally used to refer to foods that are jam-packed with nutrients and can provide health benefits to your body1 Contrary to the marketing claims, there is no food product—no matter how exotic—that can single-handedly provide all of your health needs. Limiting yourself to eating these so-called superfoods can actually result in an impaired, one-sided diet that can do you more harm than good.

    Vitamins and minerals usually work in synergy and thereby need to work with one another in order to be able to provide what the body needs. This is a fact that is usually overlooked by people in their desire to get a one-way ticket to good health. Superfoods also work in synergy, and therefore—in more cases than not—it is wise to consume them as a package, or the whole food.

    Food scientists can easily isolate one or two components of a superfood, and even though those components might look good based on a study or two, nature doesn’t work in isolation. This is why you don’t find a single isolated tocopherol (an isomer of vitamin E) in a food like almonds, but instead an array of mixed tocopherols, all of which work in synergy. Research has even shown that when we consume only one form of vitamin E (alpha tocopherol), it is at the detriment of the other forms, which potentially harms the body.2

    Berry, Berry Good
    The members of the berry kingdom are great examples of superfoods. These edible, fleshy and colorful fruits are full of antioxidants that can actually help in reversing and preventing diseases that are associated with free radicals.3 Free radicals are unstable molecules that react with various body chemicals, causing irreversible damage to our cells.4 As a person grows older, the damage caused by free radicals often worsens, which may speed up the process of aging and contribute to age-related health concerns. Antioxidants can help prevent premature aging by quenching the destructive action of free radicals.5 Berries, especially those with dark color, have one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants—flavonoids and anthocyanidins—found in nature.6

    Anthocyanidins play an important role in memory function and can help decrease the rate of a person’s mental decline. Actually, a study was able to show that age-related cognitive decline reduced by about 1.5 to 2.5 years just by eating berries at least once a week.7 In addition, the same antioxidant can also fight the development of macular degeneration, an eye disorder usually brought about by old age.8

    The risk of cancer and heart diseases, on the other hand, can be reduced by various flavonoids, especially quercetin.9 The immune system already has its own troop of cancer-fighting cells, but a study has shown that quercetin can greatly increase the number of anti-cancer cells in the body.10 It also can regulate cholesterol and blood pressure levels, which are two primary factors for heart disease.11

    Vitamin K
    However, berries are not the only sources of nutrients that can fight heart disease. Green leafy vegetables are a great source of Vitamin K, which can also decrease the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Unbeknownst to many, vitamin K works hand in hand with Vitamin D. Osteocalcin, a protein hormone present in Vitamin K, binds Vitamin D into your bones thus promoting bone health and prevents it from being deposited in your blood vessels.12 Thus, protecting your blood vessels from being clogged and decreasing the risk of heart disease.

    Nature is full of colors. More than just aesthetics, the different colors of natural products can actually give you a clue to the nutrient levels in them. Although some fruits or vegetables may have more nutrients than others, this does not mean that they are the only ones that provide the nutrients that you need. The next time that you eat, make sure that you have a colorful plate in front of you. This is your true and surefire ticket to good health.


    1. MedicineNet. (n.d.). Definition of Superfoods. Retrieved from
    2. Chen H, et al. Mixed tocopherol preparation is superior to alpha-tocopherol alone against hypoxia-reoxygenation injury. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2002 Feb 22;291(2):349-53.
    3. Paredes-López O, et al. Berries: improving human health and healthy aging, and promoting quality life. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2010 Sep;65(3):299–308. doi: 10.1007/s11130-010-0177-1.
    4. WebMD. (n.d.). Free Radicals. Retrieved from
    5. WebMD. (n.d.) Antioxidants – Topic Overview. Retrieved from
    6. Stibich, Mark. (2014, May 1). Anti-Aging Properties of Berries. Retrieved from
    7. Park, Alice. (2012, April 26). Brain Food: Berries Can Slow Cognitive Decline. Time
    8. Wang JJ, et al. Genetic susceptibility, dietary antioxidants, and long-term incidence of age-related macular degeneration in two populations. Ophthalmology. 2014 Mar;121(3):667–75.
    9. Knekt P, et al. Flavonoid intake and risk of chronic disease. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002 Sep;76(3):560–8.
    10. Brito AF, et al. Quercetin in cancer treatment, alone or in combination with conventional therapeutics? Curr Med Chem. 2015 Aug 12.
    11. Dower JI, et al. Effects of the pure flavonoids epicatechin and quercetin on vascular function and cardiometabolic health: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 May;101(5):914-21. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.114.098590. Epub 2015 Feb 25.
    12. Mercola. Without Vitamin K2, Vitamin D May Actually Encourage Heart Disease. (2011, July 16) Retrieved from