Q: Every year around this time, I start sniffling and sneezing. I’ve tried over-the-counter allergy medicines, but they always leave me feeling groggy—and with my busy schedule, I need my energy! What can you suggest?
—Carol M., Pacifica, Calif.
Your story is a familiar one. Americans make more than 12 million doctor visits each year for this common concern. Multiple factors conspire to create the dreaded days of runny noses, itchy and watery eyes, and relentless sneezing. But even though you really can’t control the amount of pollen or smoke in the air, there are some sensible ways to reduce the impact of environmental allergens—plus herbs and nutrients that can provide natural relief.
Also, don’t compound your problem with food stressors. Be aware of wheat, dairy, soy, tomatoes, coffee, peanuts, shellfish, eggs, and corn. If you’re an “allergic” person,
try giving up these foods for two weeks, and then reintroduce one into your diet every three days. Look for changes in mood, skin, or bowel function to determine if you may be sensitive to any of these foods.
Control your histamine levels naturally. Eat food that’s high in vitamin C and bioflavonoids. Drink lots of water (64 ounces daily) to dilute any pollutants you’re exposed to, and avoid caffeine, which is dehydrating.
Also try fermented foods, which have been shown to increase the immune competence of mucous membranes. Pickles, plain yogurt (if you’re not sensitive to dairy), fermented breads (if you’re not sensitive to wheat), miso (if you’re not sensitive to soy), and kombucha drinks are good options.
It shouldn't come as a surprise that women's hearts work slightly differently than men's. You may have heard that a good way to figure out your target heart rate in a workout is 80 percent of 220 minus your age. So, for a 60 year old man, that means 128 is a good target heart rate during intense exercise. It's a little less for a woman, however, and you can do the somewhat complicated math or just know that it's a littlelower—around 115.