Food allergies are a major problem for many and can wreak havoc on general health. While everyone is aware of allergies to nuts and shellfish, they may not realise that fruit is another problem food.
In this modern society when healthier lifestyles are a necessity, having allergic reactions to fruit could cause health problems for certain individuals. Those who are not aware of having a fruit allergy may suffer from a variety of symptoms that have not been pinpointed as of yet.
Allergy tests and discussions with a healthcare provider could get to the heart of the matter.
Which Fruits Cause Allergic Reactions?
Everyone is unique and so reacts differently to fruit allergies. However, several fruits have been known to cause more severe allergic reactions, examples include:
- Strawberries – the cause of strawberry allergies are linked with the protein (also known as the Fra a1 protein) that is used in the ripening and red colouring of the strawberry. Symptoms of allergic reactions include: itchy/watery eyes, severe abdominal pain and anaphylactic shock. They are a good provider of vitamin C, potassium and fibre.
- Peaches & Apricots – a protein known as the birch pollen protein is the known cause of peach and apricot allergic reactions. This type of allergy is known as an oral type and so only affects those who consume the fruit, touching a peach/apricot would cause no harm. Symptoms of the allergy include: itchy mouth, watery eyes, nausea/sickness, difficulty breathing and anaphylactic shock. They are a good provider of vitamin A, potassium and vitamin C.
- Bananas – the common cause of banana allergic reactions is also known as ‘latex-fruit syndrome’ which is linked to the defence related proteins present in rubber trees. Around 70% of people that are allergic to latex are found to be sensitive to fruits such as bananas, which contain chitinase (the cause of the cross-process). Symptoms of the allergy include: headaches, abdominal pain, coughing, vomiting and very rarely – anaphylactic shock. Bananas provide an excellent source of riboflavin and vitamin B-6.
- Kiwi – have been announced in the top-ten list of allergies. As the kiwi fruit is relatively new to places such as the UK in terms of fruit history, the allergens have taken a while to become apparent. The allergic reaction to kiwi fruit can be quite severe and is linked to the cross-process phenomenon that is related to banana allergies. Symptoms of the allergy include: a swollen mouth, hives, vomiting and again anaphylactic shock. Kiwis are excellent sources of vitamins A, E and C.
- Citrus fruits such as grapefruit, lemon, orange, lime – probably the most difficult to diagnose, citrus fruit sensitivity is due to the presence of citric acids within the fruit. Citric acid can intensify acid reflux and further symptoms include: itchy/swollen eyes, hives, diarrhoea and anaphylactic shock. Citrus fruits are popular as they provide high sources of vitamin C, potassium and folate.
Please note that anaphylactic shock occurs in the most rare circumstances and many are able to recover as long as fast action is taken.
How Can Fruit Allergies Be Managed?
In most cases, raw fruits are the problem. If they are canned or cooked in some way, the risk of reaction drops considerably as many of the allergens are present in the skin of the fruit.
When an allergic reaction does occur, antihistamines can usually treat the problem. Some individuals however, may need immunotherapy and an epinephrine injection for the most severe reactions. Otherwise, it’s best to avoid the fruits that cause reactions and find other alternatives.
For those who are concerned about not receiving the benefits of fruit, they can turn to:
- Vitamin supplements
Fruit allergies can be very frustrating yet many suffer in silence. Make a diary of the fruits you eat and if you are experiencing any form of reaction, however mild, inform your local GP. Often, mild allergies can develop into something more serious, for example fruit allergies have known to cause severe asthma. It is of particular importance to check for fruit allergies within children.
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