Learning to breathe again – my own experience with hay fever!

I grew up in Germany, on a farm in the rural Rhine valley. Before I was born, my parents converted their farm from dairy cows to breeding pigs. I remember that as I was growing up, I was always embarrassed about this but, hey, we all can find something to be embarrassed about!

I was raised on homegrown veggies, fruit, and farm food and that included fresh milk. Even though we didn’t have our own cows we were able to walk up the road to my uncle’s farm to pick up fresh untreated milk straight from the cow. Luckily, I was a very healthy child and never had sinus trouble or hay fever growing up.

Then, in my 20s, I found myself living in Bermuda.  This is when I first noticed that, in spring time, my sinuses were often blocked and inflamed. I tried to go dairy free but it didn’t seem to make a difference. But I must admit, my lifestyle and working hours in my hospitality job were a bit questionable – certainly not as good as now.

When I moved to Nelson 10 years ago, I developed a permanently blocked nose. I was constantly sniffing as I tried to suck in more air because my nasal passages were not open enough to allow me to breathe freely.  It was an all year-round problem and when nothing else helped and it became so bad, I sometimes had to take an antihistamine tablet to be able to breathe again.

I always bought excellent quality fresh unpasteurized A2 milk from Oakland’s farm, and I ate only a small amount of cheese occasionally. I had heard that Nelson has prominent levels of pollen, so I blamed my problems on that.

Then last November I went on a spring detox and cut out any gluten, dairy, and sugar. After doing this for only two weeks I noticed that my nose was less blocked and I felt great. I had cut out coffee during the detox but after the detox, I had replaced milk with soy milk in the one coffee I had per day. I know that soy is a phytoestrogen (plant based estrogen) that can affect our hormonal balance. And some people can also be sensitive to soy even if they are not allergic to soy.

So, the next thing I tried was cutting out soy milk. I replaced it with either coconut or almond milk. And guess what happened? My nasal passages cleared even more – much to my surprise.

I continue with my experimental diet for six months – and then decided that I would try and see what would happen when I introduced dairy products again. The first week went well, which was encouraging, as I love the taste of fresh milk. But by the second week, my nose was starting to get blocked again. I knew then that the only way to keep my nose clear was to avoid milk.

So, if you suffer from sinusitis, blocked nose, hay fever or other allergies, then I’d  highly recommend that you try cutting out milk and maybe even all dairy for at least a month.  This will help you find out if you are sensitive to milk like me or if you have a dairy allergy. You might also find this info on how to clear your sinuses, and this one on gluten, interesting.

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Be well.

Best wishes.


The advice written in this blog post is not intended to be a substitute for direct, personalized advice from a health professional.

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