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Spring -Summer Allergies Triggered by Health Foods

Posted May 05 2009 6:02pm
Fruits and veggies are healthy food fares – but not for some who suffer with seasonal allergies. Here's what you need to know to reduce allergic reactions, and still eat all your vegetables! - Colette Bouchez

There's no debating the health benefits of fruits and vegetables. But if you suffer from spring and summer allergies, and particularly hayfever, experts say don't be surprised if certain fruits and vegetables make your symptoms worse.

Indeed, according to a group of British allergy specialists, the incidence of fruit and vegetable allergies is on the rise, particularly among those who already suffer with seasonal allergies to grass, trees and pollen.

“Dr Pamela Ewan, an allergy consultant at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, recently told the BBC news : "We have seen a big rise in the number of cases in the past four to five years.
"It is a bit like the peanut allergy was the epidemic of the 1990s. I think fruit and vegetables are becoming the epidemic now.

The reaction from fruits and veggies is primarily OAS – oral allergy syndrome, which causes itching and swelling of the lips, tongue and throat. It can begin almost immediately after ingesting the food but usually doesn't last more than an hour. While it's not normally serious, it can become so, if the allergy is severe enough and breathing is restricted.

The fruits and veggies most likely to cause the reaction in spring and summer include celery, carrots, tomatoes, apples, peaches, pears. The reason? They share the same or similar proteins with some of the trees, pollen and weeds that are prevalent during this time of the year. Experts say the combination of the two exposures brings on the reaction.

“Exposure to other allergens can make food allergies worse – so if you have a mild allergy to cats and a mild allergy to a fruit and you are exposed to cats and eat the fruit at the same time, your reaction to both may be much worse,” says David Rosenstreich , MD, the director of the division of allergy and immunology at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City.

Moreover, Rosenstreich cautions that “ If you are allergic to tree pollen, you can also be allergic to any fruits that come from that tree, as well as foods that cross react with pollens, such as ragweed and melon or grass and certain spices,” he says.

Reducing Allergic Reactions: What To Do

Now if you're thinking this a great excuse to push the fruits and veggies off the plate and fill it with those tasty, non-allergic donuts instead, well, not so fast! There are things you can do to cut down the risk of an allergic reaction and still eat your fruits and veggies too!

Here's what experts say you can do:

1.Eat canned fruits and veggies. Most often the heating process used in canning will break down the proteins linked to allergic reactions so reactions will be minimal.

2.Prepare fresh fruits by stewing them ( add a bit of water, bring to a boil and simmer over a very low flame for up to 30 minutes, adding water when necessary), or you can steam both fruits and veggies to also break down the proteins.

3.Peel and cut the fruits and veggies and then wait ten to fifteen minutes before eating. This can also help reduce some chance of reaction.

4.Avoid eating fresh fruits and veggies outdoors when pollen exposure is the highest.

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