If you have hay fever, the very notion of spring, which usually evokes images of blossoms and clear sky, is tainted by constant sneezing, coughing and feeling unwell. If you are allergic to birch, you should avoid certain foods, as some of them can lead to a very dangerous reaction. Conversely, there are foods that can help prevent histamine from being released in your blood stream.
Image Credit: opri.sg
Eating certain foods can trigger reactions if you are allergic to birch pollen. You may have probably noticed that when you eat peanuts, tomatoes, apples or some other foods itching, swelling and other symptoms follow. This is due to proteins in birch pollen and these foods having a lot in common, which causes the body to develop symptoms, as the immune system conceives of these proteins in the foods as pathogens.
In those allergic to birch pollen, trigger foods can result in anaphylaxis, a very dangerous condition that can lead to death. That is why people with allergies should always carry a syringe with adrenaline in it to be used in case of anaphylaxis, which can also be caused by intake of certain medications or bites of insects. The fastest to use solution is EpiPen.
However, the recommended strategy is not to limit anaphylaxis prevention to carrying EpiPen wherever you go. Avoiding certain foods, especially in the spring, when birch pollen fills the air, is a must. Here is what foods can be dangerous to those who have birch allergy.
Note that the list is not comprehensive, as every patient has an individual set of trigger foods, and you never know which one can exacerbate your symptoms unless you try that food – even prick tests and other means of finding out more about your allergy are usually not that informative. Your result may be positive with no actual reaction, and vice versa.
Foods to avoid
- Veggies and grains. In this category, tomatoes, carrots (especially if they are uncooked), fennel, green bell peppers, and raw potatoes are common as triggers. However, some people may also be affected when eating wheat, parsnips, chicory, celery and buckwheat. Many patients find they can consume these foods if they are cooked, so if your mouth itches and swells after eating tomatoes, try frying them to destroy some of the protein that causes the symptoms.
- Fruits and berries. Among the fruits and berries to avoid are apples, apricots, strawberries, cherries, and some others. Apples are worth a special note: while many websites claim apples should not be avoided by those allergic to birch pollen as they contain quercetin, in fact, many such patients experience severe symptoms when eating apples.
- Legumes, nuts, etc. Peanuts can cause serious symptoms, and so can lentils, almonds, sunflower seeds, dill, parsley, etc.
It should be noted that not all varieties are the same in terms of their allergy-inducing potential. It has recently been reported that some strawberries and tomatoes have a greater potential than others, which means people with allergy can try to find a variety that is well-tolerated.
Foods to eat
Just as there are foods that can trigger cross-reactions and exacerbate your symptoms, there are foods rich in quercetin, which helps reduce histamine levels and combat inflammation, and vitamin C, which is reportedly beneficial, as far as inflammation reduction is concerned.
- Onion. This vegetable is rich in quercetin. It is recommended to eat fresh onions, as those that have been stored for a week or more contain less quercetin.
- Salmon, trout and other fish rich in omega-3, which contributes to inflammation reduction.
- Broccoli. It is rich in vitamin C, with one cup hitting the mark of 80 mg.
- Turmeric. The chemicals in it help prevent release of histamine, thus alleviating allergy symptoms.
Allergy is not a thing to neglect, as complications can be very dangerous. Consult your GP if you do not know what foods can be a trigger in your particular case, and don’t forget to ask them what medication to take if reaction strikes.
Effect of tomato variety, cultivation, climate and processing on Sola l 4, an allergen from Solanum lycopersicum – Journals.plos.org/plosone