The wonders of spring bring a burst of energy to most. But for seasonal allergy suffers, spring brings an endless supply of tissues, antihistamines and perhaps even a bulging waistline. A study from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found a link between antihistamine use and obesity. An estimated 68 percent of Americans are now overweight and there are 50 million allergy suffers in the U.S. It appears the use of prescription strength antihistamines may not just relieve your itchy eyes and runny nose, but also help to pack on the pounds.
Histamine, a chemical released by the brain, is responsible for the allergic symptoms we experience, as well as body weight regulation. Through a complicated process, histamine signals our bodies to regulate our appetites so that we don’t overeat. According to the study, we inadvertently turn this process off when taking antihistamines to reduce allergy symptoms, thus allowing us to overeat and gain weight. Frequently used prescription strength antihistamines such as Zyrtec and Allegra were the most positively linked to weight gain. Also, antihistamines have a sedating action that maybe responsible for a decrease in energy expenditure and weight gain.
For those of us who suffer from allergies, but are trying to lose weight, this may mean that we are fighting an uphill battle. There are still a few foods we can incorporate into our diet to mitigate allergy symptoms and lose weight. Foods containing quercetin, a flavanoid found in black/green tea and onions has been shown to inhibit the release of histamine. Also, foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids help to decrease the inflammation symptoms of allergies and boost immune function helping to combat allergies. Spring has sprung and summer is here, but so are those pesky seasonal allergies. The next time your allergies are bothering you instead of reaching for those little pills, head to the farmers market and grab some of that fresh allergen reducing produce. Always consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet and or medication.