What is it in these foods that I'm allergic to?
October 22, 2007 12:56 PM   Subscribe

What am I allergic to? I have reactions from the following: bean sprouts, kiwi, bananas, pecans, and lots and lots of raw vegetables such as carrots and raw snap pea pods, though I can eat them cooked with no problem.

Bananas are by far the worst of anything I've encountered. They make my face swell in addition to the usual reaction I get from certain foods - itchy mouth, throat, and stomach. Yes, stomach. The inside of my stomach will feel itchy as all hell. Very unpleasant. All of the reactions (save for bananas) are on the mild side but really irritating and uncomfortable. I can usually tell within a few bites of something if I can't eat it.

I'm not allergic to all nuts - just pecans and walnuts as far as I can tell, and I seem to be able to eat those cooked.

As mentioned, I can eat carrots, peas, and various other foods cooked but get a reaction when eaten raw. For a long time I thought it was a type of potassium that did it, as banannas and kiwis disagree with me. I can, however, drink juice fortified with potassium, so I don't know that this is the case.

Any ideas as to what it is in these foods that bothers me?
posted by item to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
There are some common features, do you have a latex allergy? If not, you are at higher risk because of tghe kiwi and banana allergies. Google "latex allergy" and risk factors.
posted by 6:1 at 1:14 PM on October 22, 2007

I'm favoriting because I too have similar syptoms, usually from anything orange.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:14 PM on October 22, 2007

Favorited because I have the same problem with tree fruits (apples, pears, etc.) and certain nuts. If the fruits have been baked- apple pie, for example- I don't get itchy. Don't know if it's the same for you, but I'm 27 years old and the allergic reactions didn't start happening until I was 20 or 21.
posted by MiaWallace at 1:21 PM on October 22, 2007

Do you also have a latex allergy? Some of the proteins that occur in rubber/latex are similar to those in foods. I have a few friends who are allergic to latex, most of whom work in medical, food prep, or hairstyling occupations where they have to wear protective gloves on a regular basis. All of them also have a food allergy to banana, kiwi, avocado, walnuts, or a number of other foods. Check out this article, highlighted passage below:

Curiously, certain fruits such as bananas, chestnuts, kiwi fruit, avocado and tomato13 show cross-reactivity, perhaps because of resemblance to a latex protein component. These foods have been responsible for anaphylactic reactions in latex-sensitive persons, while many other foods, including figs, apples, celery, melons, potatoes, papayas and pitted fruits, such as cherries and peaches, have caused progressive symptoms beginning with oral itching.

Also, this article has a list of foods that are known to cause a reaction in people who are allergic to latex. Several of the foods you mention are on it.

IANAD, of course, and you should see an allergist to determine what exactly is causing the reaction. I just wanted to mention the latex thing because not everyone knows that there is a relationship between a latex allergy and food allergies.

On preview: yep, what 6:1 said.
posted by bedhead at 1:22 PM on October 22, 2007

You need to visit an allergist. They will give you a battery of tests during which they expose a small part of your skin, usually on your forearm, to various allergens and watch for a reaction. My son has many allergies and we tried to narrow them down through observation and a bit of trial and error. This led us to believe he was allergic to shellfish when he wasn't. We discovered peanuts were an allergy of his, though we didn't realize until after visiting the allergist that his peanut allergy is severe and potentially fatal. He's since grown out of it, but at one time he was allergic to many red things: watermelon, ketchup, apple peel or any processed food with red dye #5. I'd never heard of such a bizarre thing, being allergic to a color, and the allergist really helped us manage this part of his life.

Seriously, make an appointment.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 1:23 PM on October 22, 2007

You have my sympathies, as I have the EXACT same allergy as you. I haven't bothered to investigate into what exactly in those foods I'm allergic to, because I just know to avoid them. I'm curious what answers will be posted here.

One suggestion I do have is to carry anti-histamine pills around all the time. The blister packs of non-drowsy Reactine fit easily in my wallet and kill the reaction within 10 minutes.
posted by randomstriker at 1:25 PM on October 22, 2007

Sounds like oral allergy syndrome. The reason I say this is because you mention you can eat things after they've been cooked.

I have it for walnuts and bananas and peaches and a few other things. You can avoid the things that trigger it, and try them cooked, etc.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 1:26 PM on October 22, 2007 [2 favorites]

Please note that OAS is different than "allergies," and that just because you have OAS doesn't mean that you'll go into anaphlaxis from eating a banana or whatever. I have a great handout from my allergist on OAS, but of course it's at home.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 1:28 PM on October 22, 2007

No latex allergy. I won't be seeing an allergist at any point soon, unless you can reccoment one that works free of charge for the uninsured.

This isn't a life-threatening thing. I can live with it. I almost never take more than a bite or two of something I'm allergic to, as the allergy kicks in pretty quickly and my body tells me to stop. On the off chance that I do eat enough of something to have more than a mild reaction, I pop a couple of benedryls and I'm usually okay.
posted by item at 1:30 PM on October 22, 2007

misanthropicsarah, OAS sounds exactly like what I suffer from! You get a gold check mark and a pale green highlighting. Good show.

Keep the ideas coming, folks. I've got a few more check marks in this bag of tricks, and I'm in a rewarding mood.
posted by item at 1:34 PM on October 22, 2007

I also have a great handout on OAS, also at home. I did have a pretty bad reaction eating raw carrots once, throat closing up etc. so OAS can be pretty tough.
posted by sweetkid at 1:36 PM on October 22, 2007

Are any of the other raw vegetables you have trouble with potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, or peppers? If so, you may be sensitive to plants in the nightshade family -- I have to wear gloves when cutting vegetables for soup to avoid ITCHY HIVES OF DOOM, but can eat the cooked product with no problem.
posted by nonane at 2:28 PM on October 22, 2007

I have the same problem with bananas and avocados and also some nightshades. I read that the bananas and avocado problems are related to latex allergies. I don't know how the other things that bother you fit in. Have you tried eating organic versions of the other things that bother you? Maybe there is some kind of pesticide or GMO ingredient that is causing you problems (GMO seems more likely).

Thanks to others for the OAS info.
posted by kenzi23 at 2:31 PM on October 22, 2007

Are any of the other raw vegetables you have trouble with potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, or peppers?


Also, I can handle foods I'm allergic to with no noticeable irritation. It's looking like it is indeed OAS.

I read that the bananas and avocado problems are related to latex allergies.

Avocados! There's another one I have trouble with, and I really fucking love the little green bastards. I can eat them in small quantities (like maybe 1/2 of one) and, for some reason, guacamole doesn't bother me too much. I think. I dunno - maybe it's because I'm willing to itch a bit for my avocado love. But no again - no latex allergy. I can wear a jimmy hat like no one's business.
posted by item at 4:42 PM on October 22, 2007

You are still at a higher *risk* for developing latex allergy. Just because you don't have one now doesn't mean you won't develope one.
posted by 6:1 at 8:03 PM on October 22, 2007

If it's walnuts and raw tomato then it goes with beech pollen and you probably have hayfever in the earliest part of the hayfever season. 'S what I have. They come in clusters -- but walnuts feature in so many of the groups that it's not that helpful. Cucumber seems to be part of my one too.

I don't really care for either bananas or avocado, though I dimly recall I got the the raw-inner-mouth thing with the latter too. But I'm told it's all very much a side effect of the hayfever, not the other way round. This whole latexlatexlatexOMGlatex thing is a bit of a red herring if you do suffer in the summer.
posted by genghis at 5:53 AM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

Please be careful. It is possible to have an anaphalactic reaction to something, even if you've not reacted strongly to it before. Esp. nut allergies.

No insurance sucks -- welcome to the club.
posted by shifafa at 11:41 PM on October 23, 2007

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