The Seasonal Fruit That Can Help You Fight Allergies (And Boost Immunity)

by Jonathan Galland

Nothing screams spring and summer like luscious ripe strawberries. From the basket of irresistibly bright red berries at your local market to refreshing smoothies and juices, strawberries add a little burst of sunshine to your day.

But while you probably don’t need another excuse to eat this deliciously sweet treat, there’s one big benefit you might not know about: They’re power-packed allergy fighters.

That's because strawberries are a rich source of the anti-allergy nutrient fisetin, an important flavonoid. Found in plants, fruits, spices, herbs, and tea, flavonoids support your body’s immune system function. When your key immune cells don’t function properly, chronic inflammatory disorders and allergies take root.

This is caused in part by flavonoid deficiencies, thanks to our Western diet and modern lifestyle. It's vital that the food you eat supply the nutrients you need to help your body remove toxins and establish healthy immune balance.

How Strawberries Help Fight Allergies

While you’ve probably never heard of fisetin before, it’s a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that plays its part in keeping your immune system humming along.

Fisetin has two important roles. First, it helps maintain cell function in the presence of oxidative stress.

Second, researchers from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have found that fisetin supports the health of your regulatory T-cells (or Tregs). Fisetin increases the amount of the antioxidant glutathione in your body, which in turn protects your Tregs from being damaged or destroyed. One thing you want, especially if you have allergies or have exposure to toxins (which we all have) is for your body to have enough glutathione.

It’s this second factor that plays a key role in fighting your allergic reactions. Tregs act like a conductor for your immune response, limiting your body’s inflammatory response. When Tregs don’t function properly, it becomes a weak link in your body’s defense and can lead to unwanted immune response or hypersensitivity.

A study from the National Yang-Ming University in Taiwan found that fisetin may help to limit allergic asthma response, particularly with airway inflammation. Plus, another study from the Salk Institute suggests that fisetin may also reduce age-related decline in brain function.

Not bad for a little berry.

Why You Should Go Organic for More Antioxidants

As you probably know, spring and summer are the best times to eat strawberries. I recommend seeking out organic strawberries from your local farmers market or, in a pinch, pick up a bag of frozen organic berries from your grocery store.

And not just because organic berries look and taste better, as noted by researchers at Washington State University. They also found that, compared to conventional strawberries, organically grown strawberries had higher levels of vitamin C and antioxidants. In addition, the soil on organic strawberry farms was healthier and supported more life than the soil on conventional farms.

Strawberries are just one of the delicious examples of the food as medicine concept found in my new book, The Allergy Solution: Unlock the Surprising, Hidden Truth About Why You Are Sick and How to Get Well, co-authored with Dr. Leo Galland. As strawberries show, we can get healthier, balance immunity, and live in more harmony with nature though our food choices.

  • Nirav Shah

    There have been a lot of recalls of “organic” food products by the FDA due to listeria concerns. How can we make sure we are eating the right organic foods?

    • Leon Alirangues

      The docs is being selective in picking research that supports organic food. Nutrionally, there is absolutely no difference. That’s the consensus in the scientific community. Both organic and conventional are susceptible to contamination for similar and different reasons. So, all fruit needs to be washed. There is residue of pesticides and herbicides on conventional fruits and veggies. This is more of an issue for infants and young children, since the amounts that are considered tolerable are based on adults. This all sounds to me like another scheme, like Dr. Weil’s, for selling books, videos, and vitamins and other supplements. Worth exploring his ideas but with a skeptical, questioning mind.