“Fruits and vegetables are the key to healthy living” ..How far back can you remember hearing this? The nutritional benefits combined with multiple nutrients that boost our body’s immune system have been the backbone for just about every age. As parents, we are instructed on how many servings a day our children should be fed to attain the adequate growth scale goals. Adults are reminded that a varied diet of diverse colors helps to maintain our metabolism as well as optimal health. There are even proclaimed “super foods” to help us age gracefully with stronger immune systems. But what happens when nobody tells us that the same fruits and vegetables can actually be the cause of a life-threatening allergic reaction?
Meet the Hidden Triggers
What many are not informed about is how our bodies can react from specific triggers. As if allergies aren’t tricky enough, there are silent factors that may present another set of allergic reactions that are not typically included in the discussion of foods to avoid. Although it is not standard information for some, many people have become aware of these dangers from being on the frontline of the attack on their immune system. What was once a wholesome snack might now be something that is limited to specific times of the year or off limits altogether.
– Concomitant When a person is exposed to other allergens (such as pollen) while consuming a food that is not usually problematic. This may cause additional sensitivities or reactions when the alternate allergen levels are elevated. One example is when someone with a ragweed allergy eats items such as melons, bananas, lettuce or mint. The Allergy and Asthma Network shares “As many as one out of every three people with seasonal allergies may experience oral allergy syndrome. The exact number is unclear because the condition often goes undiagnosed.”
– Synergistic When certain foods are eaten together rather than separately. In general, these foods do not cause reactions when eaten alone. Sometimes combining foods like wheat and banana may send out signals that they are foods that are not tolerated well. If you have concerns, more details can be found here.
– Cross-Reactivity When an allergic food also has distant family members that may cause a person to react to other foods. Someone who is allergic to cashews may also find that eating mangos brings about similar symptoms. Although this is a smaller percentage of people that have found this to be true with their foods, details can be found posted by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI).
Focus on listening to what your body tells you and remember to try new foods to broaden your menus. Freshly prepared foods are always best but in reality, most of us need to fill in the gaps with packaged products as well. Research to ensure those items are free of your allergens and also carry certifications of ingredient quality to minimize the potential of filling your pantry with staples that are not as wholesome as you may have thought. Most of all be proud of the foods that you eat.
– By Tracy Bush, Nutrimom® Food Allergy Liason