Saturday, June 23, 2018

I can't eat that!!, vegetables that can cause serious allergies and sensitivities

Nearly everyone is aware of the most common vegetable/fruit/grain allergies and sensitivities like peanuts, soy and gluten in some grains, but few people are aware of how prevalent allergies and sensitivities to other plant foods are.

Lets be clear, an allergy is an exaggerated immune response to a substance capable of triggering a reaction, often affecting numerous organs. It can cause a number of symptoms from mild to life threatening. People who allergic to unusual foods can have exactly the same life threatening reactions as those who are allergic to things like nuts so never laugh or take their allergy as non serious. Anaphylaxis can kill within minutes.

A sensitivity or intolerance is usually limited to the digestive system and is generally less serious, though can be very painful and with uncomfortable symptoms in some cases.

Not everyone who has a problem with a certain food reacts in the same way, and sometimes a person can have a sudden reaction after eating a food for a large part of their life, and have problems thereafter. I may be wrong but sometimes I think that many people have a subconsious aversion to a food for no reason and it may be because they may form a problem with it later. I would never force a child to eat something they really don't want to eat for that reason ( as well as everyone tasting things differently so just because you like something does not mean that your child likes it). I may be wrong about it though.

Although different people can be sensitive or allergic to just about every type of vegetable, here is a list of some of the most common and unusual ones:

  • Beans : Some beans particularly kidney and lima beans can be deadly if undercooked. Although some people are allergic to kidney beans, here I am talking about the toxin that kidney beans contain that causes severe gastrointestinal distress, extreme nausea and abdominal pain. Kidney beans should never be eaten just soaked and raw, or cooked in a slow cooker (it doesn't get up to a high enough temperature). They should be well soaked overnight and then cooked thoroughly. It is suggested that undercooked beans may be more toxic than raw beans.
  • Onions and garlic: Allergies and sensitivities to onions and garlic can cause a wide range of symptoms from diahorrea and vomiting, to hives, and in rare cases, anaphylaxis.
  • Broad beans: This is a common and serious food allergy, especially among Middle Easterners, and mostly men. This allergy is caused by a genetic mutation and when a person carrying this genetic defect eats broad beans they don't produce enough of a certain enzyme for their blood to function properly and it can lead to serious problems and death. A benefit of this mutation is that these people have a greater resistance to malaria. 
  • Lettuce: People can develop anaphylaxis if they are allergic to lettuce.
  • Celery: Celery is a surprisingly common cause of allergy. Symptoms can range from dermititis to anaphylaxis.
  • Hopniss/American groundnut: There are rare reports of people developing serious and painful digestive problems after eating hopniss that has not been cooked thoroughly. Once this problem develops you have it for life and can never eat this vegetable again - a bit like broad beans. Don't be afraid of this nutritious vegetable but always cook it well, and then cook it a bit more. Symptoms include pain, diarrhoea, vomiting, feeling like shit.
  • Spinach. This common vegetable can cause inflammation in various organs.
  • Carrots: Many people who are allergic to pollen are also allergic to carrots. Common reactions are anaphylaxis, confusion and increased heart rate.
  • Asparagus: Asparagus can cause, hives, asthma and rhinitis.

Of course there are other allergies and sensitivities - there are people allergic to avocados, potatoes, tomatoes, just about every fruit and vegetable. This short article is not meant to make you afraid of food, just aware, and getting you to be more careful in the way you cook certain vegetables. 

One of the best ways to protect yourself is when you are faced with a new type of food, hold it in your mouth for a few seconds. If it makes your mouth tingle you might have some sort of sensitivity to it. This is not foolproof but it can be a good sign.

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