Spring, with its flowering trees and aromatic blossoms, is just around the corner – which, for many, means the start of dreaded hay fever season. But pollen isn’t the only thing allergy sufferers need to worry about …
Cross reactivity can happen when the immune system reacts to the proteins found in one substance because they are structurally similar to the proteins found in another. As a result, the immune system sees them as identical and reacts to them in the same way. So, for example, if you’re allergic to pollen, you may also find that eating certain fruits or vegetables sparks your allergy symptoms. Cross reactivity can occur between different foods and also, more surprisingly, between pollen and foods, and latex and foods. Learn how cross reactivity may be affecting you!
Pollen and foods
Hayfever (also known as allergic rhinitis) affects around 15 per cent of the Australian population – that’s over 3 million people! Common symptoms include:
Not surprisingly, around 95 per cent of hay fever sufferers are allergic to some type of pollen. But what you mightn’t know is that these people may also develop allergy symptoms when exposed to certain foods, a condition known as oral allergy syndrome (OAS).
In fact, cross-reaction affects up to 80 per cent of individuals with pollen allergies! This is because pollen proteins, which play a key role in plant growth and disease defense, are structurally similar to the proteins founds in other plant foods, including raw vegetables, fruits, seeds and nuts.
Know the common culprits
If pollen makes you sneeze, watch out for these common cross-reactive foods:
Most people with pollen allergies cross-react with two or more foods, which may cause symptoms such as itching, tingling, and swelling in the mouth, lips and throat. But it can also present with other, less common, symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and eczema. In some cases, cross-reactions may only occur during high pollen seasons (when the immune system is in overdrive) and may be less prevalent during other times of the year. And, for this reason, some people may be able to tolerate cross-reactive foods outside of high pollen seasons.
Latex and foods
Allergies to latex often come about as a result of a reaction to the residual parts of plant proteins found in latex rubber. And cross reactions can occur between these proteins and the proteins found in certain fruits. In fact, around 30 to 80 per cent of people with latex allergy experience symptoms when they eat one or more of the following:
Less common cross-reactive foods include fig, pineapple, peach, pear, passion fruit, walnut, hazelnut, almond, grapefruit, strawberry, spinach, lettuce and celery.
Cross-reactions between foods
Not surprisingly, there’s also quite a high amount of cross-reactivity between different foods, especially the most common food allergens. Watch out for:
Other less frequent cross reactions may occur between:
Worried about pollen and cross-reactions? Try our natural allergy treatment …
At Health & Wellness Australia & Auckland (HWA), we use a technique called muscle testing (or kinesiology) to help identify your allergy triggers. Following testing, you can work with your practitioner to address your sensitivities using a natural allergy treatment called Positive Association Technique (PAT).
PAT is a non-invasive, holistic therapy, which:
Some cases may be complex so our naturopaths may also recommend supplements, herbs and lifestyle advice to help you achieve the best long-term results.
Want to know if PAT is right for you? Get in touch!
Send our practitioners a question using our Ask a practitioner service, and you’ll get a call-back or reply straight to your email inbox.
This blog is intended as general information only. PAT cannot cure allergies – it is intended to decrease reactions and help manage allergy-related symptoms. It is not intended to raise unrealistic expectations. If symptoms persist, consult your GP.
 AIHW. Allergic rhinitis (‘hay fever’) in Australia. http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=10737420595
 NHS. Hay fever facts. http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/hayfever/Pages/Allabouthayfever.aspx
,4,5 Food Intolerance Diagnostics. Associations between food and other allergies, cross-reactions. http://www.foodintolerances.org/non-food-allergies.aspx
 Kids with food allergies. If allergic to one food, do you have to avoid related foods? http://www.kidswithfoodallergies.org/page/food-allergies-and-cross-reactivity.aspx
Photo Credit: www.emaze.com