Everyday food and drinks that can make hayfever worse

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S.A.C. Dip (Diet, Exercise & Fitness), Advanced Human Anatomy & Physiology Level 3
Ask Louise

01 August 2018

Dairy products

The first thing that hayfever sufferers should beware of is dairy produce as this can encourage the production of mucous making symptoms like a blocked nose and a runny nose worse. So, whilst hayfever season is in full swing, it may be best to avoid things like milk, yogurt and even cheese where possible.  

What’s the alternative? Instead of opting for your usual semi-skimmed or whole milk, there are plenty of dairy-free options to try. My favourite is almond milk which is naturally nutty, with a hint of sweetness too! You can have this as a refreshing drink at any time of the day or, if you’re more adventurous, why not try using it in one of our many recipes? Our almond crepes are a delicious option, as is our homemade muesli with almond milk. 


If you suffer from hayfever, contact with pollen will see the body release histamine as a means of defending itself against something it deems as threatening. Although this is bit of an overreaction, it still has severe implications as it leads to hayfever symptoms like itchy skin and even congestion.  

So, histamine can be produced by the body but it can also be found in certain foods and drinks too, including alcohol. This means that consuming the likes of beer, wine and cocktails on a regular basis will increase the levels of this chemical in your body. Therefore, hayfever symptoms can be made worse just by the alcohol you drink.

What’s the alternative? Although this can be easier said than done, it would be best to cut down your alcohol intake during hayfever season or, at the very least, if you see a flare up in your symptoms.


Unfortunately, it isn’t just alcohol that contains high levels of histamine - there are, in fact, a number of culprits! Chocolate, a firm favourite for many, also contains large quantities and so again there is the likelihood it could make hayfever symptoms worse.

What’s the alternative? Cacao is another option for those with hayfever as it does not contain the high levels of histamine found in regular chocolate (nor the high sugar levels or dairy content either!). This can be incorporated into a range of delicious sweet treats! Some popular recipes of ours include healthy oreo cookies and homemade chocolate sauce.

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Ok, so I’ve ruled out alcohol and chocolate for hayfever sufferers but surely a cup of tea or coffee is alright? Well, sadly not as once again these contain big quantities of histamine meaning every time you stop for a cuppa, you could be making your watery eyes and runny nose worse! 

What’s the alternative? You could swap your usual caffeine fix for a refreshing herbal tea. Nettle tea is a particularly good option as it is full of iron and vitamin C which is known to support the immune system and therefore help your body defend against hayfever symptoms. That’s not all though, nettle tea also contains anti-inflammatory properties meaning it could even reduce the severity of some hayfever symptoms. 

Refined sugar

When histamine is released by the body to defend itself against pollen, adrenaline also fires up in order to reduce the inflammatory effects of histamine. However, if you consume large quantities of refined sugars, these can turn on adrenaline thus making its attempt to settle histamine futile. Therefore, sadly this is another group of foods that hayfever sufferers should attempt to avoid. This means that the likes of fizzy juice, sweets, cakes and even canned fruit are off the table!

What’s the alternative? Fresh fruit and vegetables are best in any instance, but especially if you have hayfever as these will provide you with a healthy meal without affecting your symptoms. You can explore our recipe hub for some new ideas for dinners and snacks including vegetable stew and vegetable risotto. 


You may be thinking, surely nuts can’t affect my hayfever – they’re a healthy snack! Well, they are indeed healthy but the likes of cashews and walnuts also contain histamine. So, in order to avoid worsening those frustrating hayfever symptoms, this another food that should be left untouched.

What’s the alternative? Fortunately there are a whole range of other nuts that do not contain lots of histamine including pecans, macadamia nuts and hazelnuts so simply snack on these instead of the varieties mentioned above.

Aged or preserved foods

Although histamine is only present in a few foods, it can be present in the bacteria around them too. Therefore, if foods are left to age or preserve, these bacteria grow and the levels of histamine then increase. So, put down your jams, chutneys, vinegar and even sauerkraut if your symptoms are feeling particularly severe!

What’s the alternative? As I mentioned already, fresh is your best option.Plus, local honey may prove beneficial for hayfever sufferers as it contains traces of local pollen. Although this doesn’t work for everyone, by consuming this regularly you could build up a tolerance to the pollen. This means honey could make a nice alternative to the likes of chutneys and jams!

Additional help

As always, here at A.Vogel we have a range of herbal remedies that can be used to address hayfever. If the condition brings you out in itchy skin for example, you may wish to give our soothing Neem Cream a go. This calms irritation and any redness on the skin that comes about as a result of pollen.

For a more general hayfever treatment though, there is also the option of our Pollinosan Hayfever Tablets. These address a wide range of symptoms including a blocked nose and watery eyes. Plus, unlike many hayfever remedies this one is non-drowsy so you don’t have to worry about it interfering with your day-to-day-life!

A.Vogel Pollinosan Luffa Nasal Spray | Hayfever and Allergies | Approx. 220 Sprays | Can be Used From First Signs of Symptoms | 20ml


£ 8.25

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Cleansing nasal spray for hayfever causing pollen and other air-borne respiratory allergens.
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Did you know?

What you eat can have a dramatic effect on your hayfever symptoms. While anti-inflammatory and natural anti-histamine foods can help control your symptoms, foods containing dairy and foods rich in sugar can actually make them worse.

7 simple hayfever nutrition tips

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