Natural Alternatives to Help You Enjoy the Great Outdoors

Posted by Christina Pistotnik

Summer is finally here and I cannot wait to get outside and enjoy the beauty that this season has to offer. Especially since we have such long winters here in Edmonton that forces us to spend a good portion of the year inside. Unfortunately, some things come along with the warmer weather that may impede the enjoyment of spending time outside such as pesky mosquitoes biting you and allergies to grass and pollen causing you to feel constantly itchy, swollen, and congested. Fortunately, there are natural alternatives to help beat these annoyances so spending time outside can be enjoyed once again.

Seasonal allergies can make it hard to go outside and enjoy oneself when red itchy eyes, sneezing, runny nose, and congestion are the price you have to pay. It may also, seem easier to take over the counter allergy medicine but then you have to deal with the side effects of that medication ranging anywhere from drowsiness to headaches and upset stomachs. Why trade one set of symptoms for another? Especially when there are natural alternatives such as acupuncture and lifestyle changes that can provide relief without the hassle of side effects.

Seasonal allergies occur when a person is oversensitive to certain environmental agents causing the immune system to react by releasing histamines and other compounds causing inflammation that leads to irritation and discomfort. Fortunately acupuncture works by treating not only the symptoms that are present but also the underlying cause giving you long lasting relief. Acupuncture achieves great results by boosting your immune system and decreasing inflammation, helping you to become less sensitive to environmental agents while providing symptom relief at the same time. A recent article in the Globe and Mail published at the beginning of May corroborated these claims with testimonials from people receiving acupuncture as an alternative to medication for seasonal allergy relief.

Minor lifestyle changes can make a big difference in the way your body deals with seasonal allergies. Simple changes in diet, increasing exercise, and starting stress coping strategies can actually help to manage symptoms related to allergies. A diet that is more on the bland side, low in fatty meats, oily, greasy, fried foods, and sweet foods is best to help decrease inflammation and support the immune system are best.

Some foods that should be avoided especially around allergy season include:

• Ice cream
• Sugar
• Candy (esp chocolate)
• Milk
• Butter
• Cheese
• Yogurt
• Raw salads
• Fruit juices
• Fatty meats
• Fried foods
• Refined flour
• Yeasted bread
• Alcohol
• Coffee
• Diet sodas
• Spicy foods

Exercise is a great way to improve lung capacity and immune function. Light to moderate exercise 3 to 4 times per weak for 20-30 minutes at a time will achieve the beneficial affects. You can do any exercise you feel comfortable with as long as you keep and maintain a schedule to redeem maximum results.

Stress can actually impede the immune system making you more susceptible to allergy reactions. Meditation and breathing exercises are great ways to help cope with everyday stressors. These can help you deal with stress more effectively by teaching your body to release tension when stressed. Because when the body is stressed it tightens the muscles, tensing everything causing the body to feel pain and keep the stress in the body instead of releasing it. Deep relaxation should be practiced everyday for 5-10 minutes in order to learn how to deal with stress more effectively.

Now moving onto the topic of naturally repelling those pesky mosquitoes. If you are anything like me you hate spraying yourself down with chemical spray to help protect yourself from those buggers anytime you step out the door. There has been a lot of talk about using Thiamin (vitamin B1) supplements to help stave off mosquito bites. The theory behind this is that vitamin B1 is water soluble and therefore secreted through urine and sweat. This secretion releases an odour undetectable to the human nose but highly detected and detested by mosquitoes.

There are a few options to achieve this affect including taking daily 100mg vitamin B1 supplements, eating foods high in vitamin B1, or there is now a patch that you stick onto your skin. The patch is a great resource for those that are negligent in taking supplements; however, I found that you had to stick a couple of the patches on in order to achieve a desirable effect. Nonetheless this is a great option for those that dislike the chemical sprays but still want to enjoy their time outdoors. Other suggestions include: wearing lightly coloured clothing, long sleeved shirts, and avoid wearing or using things with perfume in it.

Living in Canada especially Edmonton limits our ability to spend some quality time outside in the fresh air. So it is important to make the best of it and really enjoy ourselves when we do get the chance. With the use of acupuncture, diet, exercise, and stress management, the outdoors can really be great once again. So relish the time you get to be outside by doing the activities you like whether it is gardening, golfing, walking in the park or camping with minimal annoyances that come from allergies and mosquito bites.

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