Skin that over-reacts may develop pustules, bumps, become inflamed, flush, and have weakened capillaries that cause thread veins. Food intolerances, harsh weather, stress, genetics, eczema, and very dry skin can increase sensitivity. The antioxidant quercetin soothes the gut and essential fatty acids strengthen the gut wall, both of which help reduce food sensitivities, and anti-inflammatory foods calm irritated skin.
This contains anti-inflammatory compounds called saponins and a starch, inulin, which passes undigested to the large intestine where it supports bacteria associated with nutrient absorption and a lower allergy risk.
Key nutrients: Folate, vitamins B1, C, K, fibre, iron, calcium, saponins, inulin.
How to eat: Add 4–5 raw spears to a salad or eat as a side vegetable.
These are a fabulous source of the antioxidant quercetin, thought to inhibit the release of histamines that leads to allergic reactions. Red onions also provide sulphur, which boosts healthy connective tissue, or collagen.
Key nutrients: Inulin, quercetin, flavonoids, sulphur, biotin.
How to eat: Add red onions to salads or use as a base for meals.
All colours supply antioxidants: quercetin calms skin, and lycopene and rutin protect and strengthen the blood vessels.
Key nutrients: Lycopene, lutein, betacarotene, quercetin, vitamin C.
How to eat: Eat up to 7 cherry tomatoes or 1 medium one daily.
This is high in an antioxidant kaempferol, which helps to stop the immune system over-reacting to allergy-related substances, lessening their impact and lowering the risk of inflammation.
Key nutrients: Sulforaphane, vitamins A, B C, E, and K, chromium, omega-3, protein, zinc, calcium, iron, selenium.
How to eat: 8 florets make part of your five a day.
Actually a fruit seed related to rhubarb and sorrel, buckwheat is a good grain substitute for those sensitive to wheat or other gluten grains. It also provides the antioxidant rutin, which helps reduce the fragility of blood vessel walls.
Key nutrients: Rutin, quercetin, magnesium, fibre, protein.
How to eat: Have up to 60g (2oz) daily.
Low in sugar, yet full of antioxidants that protect the skin and blood vessels.
Key nutrients: Flavonoids, anthocyanins, vitamins C and E, omega-3, potassium, magnesium.
How to eat: Snack on a handful daily.
These have 30 types of carotenoid, flavonoids such as quercetin, and vitamin C. They also contain sulphur, which supports collagen.
Key nutrients: Quercetin, carotenoids, vitamin C, B vitamins.
How to eat: Eat raw in salad or add to meals.
Try to use organic, extra virgin cold-pressed oil as this has more anti-infl amatory polyphenols that can calm sensitive skin.
Key nutrients: Quercetin, vitamin E, omega-9.
How to eat: Use up to 2 tbsp daily in salads and for cooking on low heats.
Healthy monounsaturated fats in avocado allow 2–6 times more uptake of carotenoids. They contain B vitamins to help calm skin.
Key nutrients: Lutein, betacarotene, omega-3 and -9, vitamins B5, B6, C, E, K, copper, folate, potassium.
How to eat: 1 medium avocado 2–4 times a week.
This has higher levels of antioxidants than black tea, including catechins, which support collagen and elastin.
Key nutrients: L-theanine, catechins, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG).
How to eat: Drink 1–3 cups daily.
Rich in vitamins A and C, quercetin, and anti-infl ammatory vitamin K.
Key nutrients: Fibre, vitamin C, betacarotene, quercetin, omega-3.
How to eat: Daily in salads and with meals.
Just 30g (1oz) of cacao contains 314 per cent of our daily iron needs. Cacao also has sulphur, supporting collagen production.
Key nutrients: Magnesium, chromium, iron protein, copper, calcium, betacarotene, vitamins B1 and B2, magnesium, sulphur, flavonoids, fatty acids.
How to eat: Add 1–6 tsp daily to meals.