Ah, the feel of gentle, warm sunshine kissing your skin! The deep, earthy smell of a brisk April rain! The cherry, maple, and pear trees have begun dressing themselves in their seasonal, colorful glory, and the entire outdoor world seems to be refreshed with the brilliant green wash of new life and vitality, and…ah…ah….
I do sympathize, and today I’d like to offer you some relief. Yes, there’s quite a lot we can do to minimize how much of spring’s irritants get into our homes and bodies. No, you don’t have to seal yourself away from the natural world until June in order to escape the sneezing and sniffling, sinus pressure, and itchy eyes.
Spring clean-up tip #1: Dig deep inside your home.
What with all the pollen blowing around, it’s no coincidence we feel like giving our homes a good purge during spring.
- Clean surfaces by dusting and vacuuming frequently. Just remember to slip on a dust mask before you begin, and be sure to change your clothes afterward and have a quick warm shower—don’t forget to rinse your hair.
- Install clean new HEPA filters on your indoor heating/AC system.
- Opening windows isn’t the best idea, but do let in some spring sunlight by pulling back the curtains. Better yet, remove those curtains and toss them in the laundry. A good wash in hot water will take care of any mold spores and dust mites lurking in their heavy folds.
- Want an even deeper clean? Wash or replace pillows, which can harbor vast numbers of dust mites. Hint: That includes both bed pillows and decorative cushions!
Spring clean-up tip #2: Give your body a deep cleaning, too.
Spring is a prime opportunity to tune up your body by freeing it of substances that upset your wellness. Here are three ways to do it:
- Super-quick, but super-effective: Use a saline nasal rinse to remove irritants from your sinuses. Voila—no allergens inside nasal passages, no sinus trouble!
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate: Steady hydration—but not with sugary or caffeine-laced drinks—is critical to keeping every one of the body’s systems running smoothly. And don’t forget, if you’ve been sneezing or blowing your nose a lot, it’s especially important to restore that lost moisture to your body.
- Consider going even deeper: A food-based detox balances and refreshes the body’s systems by removing substances that slow it down and stimulate inflammation—think excess sugar and salt, gluten, dairy, caffeine—and substituting satisfying, clean foods that energize and inspire. It’s a great way to reset and clarify! (Psst! I’d love to share the details with you for absolutely no charge. Just go to robertamittman.com/detox to sign up.)
Spring clean-up tip #3: Hidden food irritants? Cook up to clean up!
If you’re already loading your plate with plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables, you’ve taken a critical step toward wellness. That’s great! But during allergy season, there’s another food factor to consider, oral allergy syndrome, or food-pollen syndrome.
Some fresh produce contains proteins that are chemically similar to those found in seasonal allergens—similar enough that a body which reacts to the allergen may also react to the food. Common spring allergens and some of the foods that may cross-react with them include
- birch pollen: apple, almond, kiwi, pear, hazelnut, peanut, carrot, peach, plum, nectarine
- ragweed pollen: cucumber, zucchini, melon, banana, chamomile, sunflower seed
- grass pollen: tomato, orange, celery, melon, peach
Cross-reaction is typically signaled by an itching, tingling, or numb sensation on the lips, tongue, and/or throat within moments after consuming the reactive food. It’s usually short-lived and very rarely progresses to a serious allergic reaction, but the effect can be alarming and may be best avoided.
Now for the good news: You don’t have to cut out these otherwise healthful foods—just don’t eat them raw. In the vast majority of oral allergy cases, cooking breaks down the problem proteins and eliminates potential reactions. (Whew!)
Please don’t feel as though allergies are keeping you from experiencing the vibrant renewal going on in the natural world at this hopeful time of year. Renewal can, and should, be at work in every one of us during spring. It’s just a matter of taking a little different approach, by making choices and adjustments that allow you to take your wellness into your own hands. You deserve to experience the best that spring has to offer: growth, vitality, and a living sense of refreshment and new energy. Clear out, clean up—and enjoy!