So, what foods cause swelling? It’s what in macrobiotics we would call more expensive foods. This includes fruit. If you think of fruit, perhaps an apple, orange, banana, etcetera. What is its nature? Its soft, high water content and also contains quite a lot of fruit sugar. That high water content tends to make our body tissues more watery and soft. It is now becoming well known in Western medicine that having high blood sugar levels damages blood capillaries because it makes blood capillaries expand and it makes tissues expands. So, also the sugars in the fruit also have it an expensive effect. That doesn’t mean we can’t eat fruits and it’s healthy to eat some fruit, but it’s not healthy to eat a lot of fruit and a lot of the juices and also, if we are living in a temperate climate, such as Northern Europe, is better to eat the local fruits, apples, pears, oranges, berries, etc rather than bananas, oranges, mangoes and the tropical foods, which are more watery and more cooling and often sweeter.
Knowing this, we can stop eating tropical fruits and then immediately we’re also really reducing our carton footprint, and so let’s look around for a locally grown strawberries, apples, pears, etcetera.
So also sugar itself as in refined sugar and all of the other different forms of sugar. These really expand that mucus membrane, so it is really good to avoid refined sugar. This is what we’ve been doing for years in macrobiotics. Now, Western medicine is catching up and NHS is recommending to people drastically reduce their sugar intake adults to 7 sugar cubes (30g) per day. That might sound like quite a lot (and in a sense, it is a lot for the body to process). But when you look at how that translates foodwise, it’s only a slice of cake, a stack of biscuits or a couple of bowls of sugary breakfast cereal such as Kellogg’s cornflakes or sugar laden Frosties.
You may already be reducing or cutting down sugar, or you may not. This may seem like a really difficult thing, actually it’s not. You can find more information on how to cut sugar out of your diet and what you can replace it with instead here. We are not kill joys! We need some nice desserts and some nice sweetness in our diet. But there’s a whole range of healthy deserts that you can make which are just as sweet and tasty without using the refined sugar, brown sugar, muscovado sugar, corn syrup and all of these kind of things. So, if you want to reduce sugar and then check that out, I think you’ll find that helpful.
Other expansive foods include strong spices, really heating spices like chili, paprika etc. When eating these you may experience your mouth heating up, going red, your lips may become more red. There’s a bit of inflammation happening. It weakens the mucus membrane. Personally, I really enjoy a curry once in a while, but I’m not using spices on a daily basis. These are much more suitable for living in a hotter climate because they have a cooling effect.
Let’s talk a bit about drinks, so soft drinks, coca cola etc contain sugars. Other substances imitating sugars also have a strong yin, expansive effect.
Also caffeinated drinks whether they are canned drinks, black tea coffee also will be expanding that mucus membrane. This means that it is not so great to be drinking lots of tea and coffee anyone because it’s a stimulant and may feel good temporarily but long term it’s actually weakening your kidneys and our internal energy.
With alcohol, you may experience if you drink alcohol, you become it soft and fuzzy. However, it is also weakening the mucus membrane. Again, this is not about being kill joy. If we’re in good health, if our body is strong, if our mucus membrane is strong, you can enjoy a little alcohol from time to time. But drinking it daily or in larger amounts will certainly weaken the mucus membrane.
Dairy – some people may find that the lighter dairy foods such as cow’s milk, cream and various things made from those also contribute to their hay fever.
These are some of the things in our diet that can really weaken the mucus membrane. The next important question we can ask ourselves is what is going to strengthen the mucus membrane?
The answer to this is pretty simple. In one (or maybe two) words – whole foods.
Whole grains, whole beans, whole vegetables, whole seeds, whole sea vegetables etc. These entire foods, along with the natural fibre in them have a more strengthening effect on our lungs which are very connected with the nose and sinuses and also on the mucus membrane. So, they are helping to strengthen that membrane, they are helping to keep the pollens, dusts etc out so that hay fever symptoms can reduce.
Animal foods such as fish, chicken etc have a neutral effect. I wouldn’t suggest eating a lot of eggs, meat, chicken, because in looking at the quality of the food, they have a much more contractive effect. It can be energizing but can also create a lot of tension in the body, and whenever we eat a reasonable amount of meat chicken eggs also cheese then we always then swing to want the opposite. We are likely to find ourselves then craving a glass of wine with the meat or maybe we want a nice, sweet dessert, or a cup or few cups of coffee afterwards, and it’s then those things which swell up the mucus membrane and cause the hay fever.
I really recommend making these changes in the diet, not only will they help hay fever but will help other organs in the body as well and help you to enjoy better health.