What fruits and vegetables flare up my allergies?
In cases of pollen allergy or hayfever, the immune system treats pollen as a foreign invader. This causes the common and unpleasant symptoms of hayfever, such as sneezing, runny nose and watery, itchy eyes. In some people with hayfever, their immune system also treats proteins found in some fruits and vegetables the same way that it treats proteins found in pollen because they are similar. The result is a condition called oral allergy syndrome and up to one third of hayfever sufferers have it. Oral allergy syndrome causes itching in the mouth when a particular fruit or vegetable is eaten. It is usually mild, but can sometimes be an early warning sign of a more serious allergic reaction.1
Oral allergy syndrome commonly causes symptoms such as an itchy mouth and throat, tingling, burning or swelling of the mouth or throat, a runny nose, sneezing and itchy eyes. Some people may suffer from oral allergy syndrome all year round, but it is more common during allergy season when pollen levels are high. Triggers depend largely on what types of pollen you are allergic to as well. For example, people with grass allergies may have reactions to tomatoes, kiwis and melons. Tree allergies (especially birch trees) may cross react with pears, plums, parsley, dill, potatoes, lentils, almonds and walnuts. People allergic to ragweed may suffer from symptoms after eating banana, cucumber, melon, zucchini, or sunflower seeds.2
The main treatment for oral allergy syndrome is to avoid the foods that trigger your symptoms. Cooking destroys the proteins responsible for the allergic reaction, so the same foods that cause symptoms when eaten raw are often tolerated when cooked. People who cannot eat uncooked fruits and vegetables will need to rely on well‐cooked food in combination with vitamin supplements and will usually need to seek the advice of a specialist dietician.3 If you love a food and find it difficult to avoid, you can also try peeling it as most of the responsible proteins are in the skin. Buying canned varieties may also be an option, as canning destroys the proteins as well.1