The Forbidden Fruit
June 18, 2012 9:33 AM   Subscribe

Can I become allergic to (almost) all fruits over night? If so, what can I eat/drink as substitutes?

In the last few weeks, I noticed that I seem to react to fruits the same way I react to milk - the exact symptoms of my lactosis intolerance. I'm healthy otherwise, and generally rarely get sick. Most of my family on my mother's side deals with insane amounts of allergies (including nearly every known fruit) and my lactosis intolerance came "over night" as well when I was in my mid-twenties. It still seems strange that every fruit I try makes me throw up/gives me extreme stomach pain from one day to another. In my family, it slowly developed, starting with strawberries and working it's way up to "all fruits".

Fruits I have tried: Passion fruit, cherries, banana, coconut, watermelon, raspberries, mango, orange, apricot. Banana and coconut give me less stomach pain and doesn't make me throw up, but it's still stomach pain and pretty uncomfortable in the end.
Some I ate, some I drank as juice (claiming to be "100 % natural", if it's any help). I don't feel like testing any other fruits.

Question 1: Is there anything these types of fruit have in common that could be cause the allergy? Or is it unlikely that this is a simple allergy and I should see a doctor? (If so, what kind of doc?)

Question 2, whatever stands between fruits and me, I like eating them and drinking juice. Unlike milk, I can't just take a counterpart to soy milk. What can I eat/drink instead to have at least the vitamine part covered (bonus points if it tastes good)?
posted by MinusCelsius to Food & Drink (24 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Fructose intolerance is a possibility.

To get the same vitamins? Vegetables are the thing. Fruit isn't really unique in the vitamins it contains.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:38 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Anecdotal, I know, but I had a friend who developed a severe lactose intolerance (with similar symptoms as you) and, after much investigating and experimentation, discovered it was actually a gluten intolerance that, over time, caused the lactose issues. After about 3 months of gluten-free, she was able to consume lactose without issue and still has no problems 2+ years later.
posted by Jacob G at 9:44 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Vegetable juices are quite good; maybe try carrot juice?

I would see an allergist about all of this, though.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:45 AM on June 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

Are you overloading your digestive system with fruits? Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Example: fresh cherries can cause terrible gas pains. Cut back and eat small amounts.
posted by Carol Anne at 9:45 AM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

I would see an allergist about all of this, though.

posted by sebastienbailard at 9:47 AM on June 18, 2012

Yeah, this doesn't sound like an allergy (likewise, lactose intolerance is not an allergy). You could start by running this past your primary care doctor and they can refer you to the appropriate specialist (probably a gastroenterologist). For what it's worth, fresh fruit and dairy are among the most common culprits for triggering issues in people with intestinal issues.

You might consider trying cooked, peeled fruit as one last experiment -- I have GI issues and can't tolerate most fresh fruit, but well cooked fruit (like a soft baked apple or pie innards) usually works OK.
posted by telegraph at 9:48 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oral Allergy Syndrome? OAS manifests only mostly itchiness and burning of the lips, mouth, and throat, but some people experience gastrointestinal issues. If you have hayfever, it could be a possibility, and the onset of reactions to produce can certainly appear rapidly, seemingly out of the blue. But yes, get thee to an allergist and have it checked out.
posted by raztaj at 9:50 AM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

* manifests in mostly it itchiness, not "only."
posted by raztaj at 9:52 AM on June 18, 2012

I came in here to say OAS. My best friend has it, and this all sounds very familiar. A good allergist can help you.
posted by Medieval Maven at 9:57 AM on June 18, 2012

Yeah, seconding fructose intolerance. Look into low FODMAPs diets/literature, also "natural hygiene" food combining eating wherein fruit is only done on an empty stomach, never in situations where the sugars can be poorly digested and ferment.

It is possible you will be able to eat fruits again, but right now your system is in overload and you might have to do things to fix the imbalances. My vote for specialist would actually be a nutritionist, one that has studied FODMAP issues, which is a fairly recent line of thinking in terms of GI distress treatment.
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 9:59 AM on June 18, 2012

this doesn't sound like an allergy

It sounds exactly like Oral Allergy Syndrome to me. However, the OP should definitely see a gastroenterologist as well.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:59 AM on June 18, 2012

Pectin. Diagnose with allergy tests or an elimination diet.
posted by PickeringPete at 10:00 AM on June 18, 2012

Sidhedevil: "It sounds exactly like Oral Allergy Syndrome to me. However, the OP should definitely see a gastroenterologist as well."

"Oral allergy syndrome or OAS is a type of food allergy classified by a cluster of allergic reactions in the mouth in response to eating certain (usually fresh) fruits, nuts, and vegetables that typically develops in adult hay fever sufferers."

MinusCelsius described stomach pain and vomiting; this is nothing like OAS.

And, as has been noted, "allergies" involve responses of the histamine system (itchiness, swelling, raised bumps, excessive mucus flow...); this is a sensitivity, but not an allergy, according to what I've read. FWIW, when attempting to track down legitimate medical information.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:09 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

MinusCelsius described stomach pain and vomiting; this is nothing like OAS.

A lot of people with OAS have gastrointestinal sequelae. If this isn't documented in the literature to date, it is well known among people with OAS.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:16 AM on June 18, 2012

IAmBroom, many people with OAS experience vomiting, stomach cramping and pains, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal symptoms. The "oral" part of OAS is actually a misnomer, though most people do experience some kind of reaction in or around the mouth. The current push is to call it "pollen food syndrome" which is more accurate, and less discriminating about the symptoms and reactions people have. I have no idea if the OP has it, but it is certainly a possibility.

OAS is a fucking weird and annoying ass allergy, though rarely life threatening
posted by raztaj at 10:18 AM on June 18, 2012

er, that would be "pollen food allergy."

I cannot type today
posted by raztaj at 10:20 AM on June 18, 2012

My first wholly unscientific thought was also OAS, if only because IIRC fructose intolerance is rarer.
posted by elizardbits at 10:22 AM on June 18, 2012

I have no other symptoms, just really bad stomach pain that goes immediatly away after throwing up.
I haven't eaten all the listed fruits on one day, btw, it was within 8 - 10 days. Also no empty stomach; I ate most as dessert or drank the juice while eating (none of the foods caused any issues if I had water or soda).
posted by MinusCelsius at 11:04 AM on June 18, 2012

Hmm. It might be the acidic nature of fruit rather than allergies... if you have ulcers or other stomach lesions, making your gastric juices more acidic could cause the pain. Go see the doc, in any event.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:08 AM on June 18, 2012

It occurs to me that if this was actually fructose intolerance, you would have the same issue with a billion other non-fruit things, because HFCS is everywhere. I think you have a GI series in your future, alas.
posted by elizardbits at 11:28 AM on June 18, 2012

I hate to say it, but you need to see a doctor. Not necessarily an allergist. Start with a Gastrointerologist and then go on to a allergist if indicated.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:48 AM on June 18, 2012

I have fruit allergies, and they don't manifest as stomach issues. Your other mucus membranes should react first - i.e. your mouth and throat.

If this does turn out to be an allergy thing, I've found I tolerate my trigger fruits/veggies better after they've been cooked with heat in some way.
posted by MangyCarface at 12:20 PM on June 18, 2012

I have few issues with milk products after they were cooked, so I might give fruits a try.

I also read up on sorbitol, which the wiki entry says I should avoid in case of fructose intolerance, and what fruits have high/low sorbitol levels. Pineapple is listed as having nearly none and thinking about it, the one fruit smoothie that didn't make me throw up was coconut-pineapple, and I did eat curry with pineapple with no issues. Might be something.

you would have the same issue with a billion other non-fruit things, because HFCS is everywhere

I might. The stomach pain started a little over a week ago; before that, I ate/drank everything that causes problems now without any issues, for years.

I will try to eat a cooked fruit, and other than that, avoid fruits and things that are on the "to avoid" list. If cooked pineapple (minus curry) causes pain, I'll see a doctor though. Thanks for the input.
posted by MinusCelsius at 1:03 PM on June 18, 2012

Just, data point: during the year when pollens are worst for birch trees and later ragweed, my friend can't eat bananas. She has NO reaction to bananas in her mucus membranes; it's only bad on her stomach. Avocados though, are much different for her, as are melons.

Which is to say: like lots of other syndromes, there is no "one size fits all" and OAS can manifest itself in all kinds of ways. Cooking fruit DOES usually neutralize the stuff that bothers you. But. Some people have such pronounced reactions that they are issued epi pens, so . . . I'd go to a doctor anyway. An allergist if not a GI doctor. I know it sucks but my friend ONLY figured this out after we harangued her for YEARS to go to the allergist. Her life is way better now.
posted by Medieval Maven at 5:22 PM on June 18, 2012

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