Food allergy questions
November 9, 2006 3:10 AM   Subscribe

Help me sort out my food allergies (to nuts, legumes, and fish).

Multi-part question. The first is about the different families of nuts and peas. I'm allergic to peanuts and split peas (seriously), and chick peas (slightly less seriously), and soy beans (only mildly), which makes sense since they're all in the legume family. But I'm fine with all the different "beans" I've tried, as well as snow peas...aren't these also legumes? I've been reluctant to try nuts as I was warned off them as a child, but since I'm okay with amaretto, which is almond liqueur, does this suggest I'd be okay with tree nuts (which are a separate family from legumes)? In short, can anyone say for sure whether allergies stick to families? And then, anyone got any good snack ideas? :-)

Okay--now about fish: I really can't eat any of it, but can't get away from all the writing about how helpful omega3 supplements can be, so I was thinking I'd like to take some. So the question is, is allergy to fish/shellfish an allergy to the protien or the oil? Or can it be both?

ps. I've seen allergists but found them unhelpful... both focused on environmental allergies...possibly because they're easier to control understand and control, ie. with allergy shots.
posted by PaulieK to Food & Drink (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
About the second part of your question: good supplements manufacturers purify the oil, so that all the allergens are out. When I was reading allergy-related mailing lists, however, some people did report a reaction to supposedly purified oil. According to the manufacturers that was impossible, so make of that what you will.

There are DHA supplements that are made from algae, maybe you are interested in those. If you google for "vegan dha" you'll find a few.
posted by davar at 4:41 AM on November 9, 2006

Sounds like you should consult your doctor, both as an expert that can give advice and as a person that can administer (or refer you to someone who can administer) conclusive allergy tests.
posted by krisjohn at 4:53 AM on November 9, 2006

You need to get advice from a doctor. There are allergists who can help with food allergies. Ask your GP to help you find one.

In general, allergies are to specific protiens. Similar plants do not necessarily have every protien in common. Distillation should exclude the protiens (assuming the product does not come back into contact with them after the distillation). I am allowed to have distilled alcohols or oils which are derived from foods that I am allergic to. You might be able to take salmon oil (in pill format, if you prefer) for that omega 3, but I'd seek the advice of a doctor first.
posted by winston at 5:24 AM on November 9, 2006

davar, do you remember which allergy-related mailing lists you were on? Are some better than others?
posted by mediareport at 5:48 AM on November 9, 2006

Coming from a family with severe-to-the-5th-power allergies, I really recommend getting both blood and skin tests for all the things you may be allergic to. Sometimes there's a lot less rhyme & reason than you think (i.e., I'm I'm allergic to this, then I'm probably also allergic to that...). By doing both the blood and skin prink tests you should be able to confidently narrow down your specific triggers. One of the tests--blood?--has a high false positive rate and so doing both types of tests is fairly standard where severe or multiple allergies are the case.

I take vegetarian DHA capsules. I don't suffer from allergies myself, but because of the family history, I avoided all nuts and shellfish during a recent pregnancy and during most of my (breastfed) son's first year. I was that nervous, but like you, also wanted to benefit from omega-3s, especially since these are critical to brain development for infants around 0-6mo. I think I take Neuromins Vegetarian DHA, and neither I nor my son has had any adverse reaction.

Last week my son (now 15mo) inadvertently ate pine nuts and got a bad rash on his face and diaper area. That led me to this abstract, which shows some interesting findings about peanuts vs. tree nuts.

I reiterate the advice to see a reputable allergist for the tests.
posted by cocoagirl at 6:35 AM on November 9, 2006

I have very similar nut and bean allergies - peas, chickpeas, I think lentils, brazil nuts, cashews, and various other nuts, but not peanuts or soybeans. I generally give all non-peanut-non-soy nuts and beans a miss, just in case.

I definitely recommend seeing an allergist. I saw one and the guy was able to break down exactly what would set me off very badly (and also what wouldn't). It had some surprising results - slight allergy to sesame seeds? Wha?
posted by cadge at 8:00 AM on November 9, 2006

Mediareport: these were Dutch mailing lists that focused on children's allergies, so probably not very useful to you.
posted by davar at 5:39 PM on November 9, 2006

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