If you’re suffering from tree pollen allergies, you may already know that specific foods can trigger adverse reactions. In this article, we will discuss the top tree pollen allergy foods to avoid.
Connection Between Food and Tree Pollen Allergy
For those of you who have tree pollen allergies, you’re probably familiar with the allergic symptoms that follow: itchy mouth, watery eyes, swelling of the lips, and more.
What a lot of people don’t realize, however, is that there is a connection between your diet and pollen allergies.
While it is helpful to reduce contact with the environmental triggers of tree pollen allergy, it is also important to identify related food allergens that further provoke the allergic response.
What Is Oral Allergy Syndrome? a.k.a. Pollen-Food Allergy Syndrome
Some people experience sensitivity to particular food items, resulting in an allergic reaction similar to the reaction when they encounter tree pollen.
This condition is also known as Oral Allergy Syndrome, otherwise known as Pollen Food Allergy Syndrome (PFAS).
Oral Allergy Syndrome is a food allergy caused by cross-reactivity between plant pollen and certain fruits, vegetables, and nuts.
The condition occurs when pollen proteins are like those found in certain fruits, vegetables, and nuts.
When you eat foods that contain these proteins, your immune system mistakes them for pollen and triggers an allergic reaction.
Symptoms for Oral Allergy Syndrome
Oral Allergy Syndrome is most common in people allergic to tree pollens, such as birch, alder, oak, maple, or elm.
The most common symptoms of OAS are itching and swelling in the mouth and throat, hives, runny nose, sneezing, scratchiness on the roof of the mouth, and other skin irritations.
During allergy season, most people with seasonal allergies are already dealing with recurring symptoms. So eating certain foods that further trigger their allergies only worsens their current symptoms.
In severe cases, Oral Allergy Syndrome can cause anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction. However, the most severe reactions are rare and are not typical.
Nevertheless, if you experience any of these symptoms after eating something, it’s important to see an allergist to confirm whether you have Oral Allergy Syndrome.
Some allergy sufferers deal with gastrointestinal issues when consuming tree pollen-related foods.
Other Pollen Allergies’ Effects on Oral Allergy Syndrome
Unfortunately, those who suffer from oral allergy symptoms aren’t limited to those with the aforementioned tree pollen allergies.
In fact, it’s possible for people with other pollen allergies, ragweed, grass, and even flowers, to also experience OAS.
With these sensitivities, oral symptoms are seen approximately 70% of the time in birch-sensitive patients and only 20% in grass-sensitive patients.
Therefore, it’s safe to assume that different foods will cause an OAS reaction depending on your pollen allergy.
What Causes Pollen-Food Allergy Syndrome?
While common food allergies (like peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, and more) are often evident in young children from an early age, pollen-food allergy syndrome usually comes later.
When a person is repeatedly exposed to the cross-reacting pollens in certain foods (usually in older children, teenagers, and even adults), they may start to develop this type of food allergy with oral allergy symptoms.
The best way to reduce the risk factor of a severe allergic reaction is by identifying and removing the offending food items from your diet.
(keep reading for a list of the most common tree pollen allergy foods to avoid)
But before you go ahead and remove all the food items listed here, please understand that not everyone with a tree pollen allergy will react to all the foods listed below.
I recommend getting a tree pollen allergy test to find out which specific tree pollens you’re allergic to and use this list as a guide to test which foods you may also have cross-reactivity to.
What Foods Worsen Tree Pollen Allergies?
Before clearing food out of your fridge and cabinets, it’s important to note that not all tree pollen-sensitive patients will react to all the foods listed below.
The severity of your tree pollen allergy will play a role in the severity of your reaction to these foods.
Some tree pollen-sensitive patients can eat the foods listed below without any issues, while others may experience mild allergy symptoms to severe symptoms.
That said, if you are allergic to any of these tree pollens, it’s generally best to avoid eating foods that contain the plants’ related food proteins for a certain period to see how you feel, then avoid it entirely if you find that it triggers your symptoms.
Top Birch Tree Pollen Allergy Foods To Avoid
Birch tree pollen is a prevalent allergen, especially during the spring season. If you’re allergic to birch tree pollen, here are common foods that may also be triggering your symptoms.
Also a tree nut, almonds belong to the Prunoideae subfamily of the family Rosaceae.
Researchers have discovered that a primary allergen found in fruits of the Prunoideae subfamily causes widespread cross-reactivity if you have a birch tree pollen allergy.
This shared trait may produce Immunoglobulin E (IgE antibodies) and an allergic reaction in patients with pollen-food allergy syndrome.
According to the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, antigens in birch pollen and apples share something known as “allergic epitopes” that produce Immunoglobulin E cross-reactivities.
These antibodies manifest when your body encounters an allergen and thus cause the reaction.
As such, apples may cause or worsen your current allergy symptoms if you have a birch pollen allergy.
Apricots are also part of the Prunoideae subfamily and may trigger an allergic reaction to people allergic to birch tree pollen.
Carrots are another food that may worsen tree pollen allergies.
The symptoms caused by eating raw carrots may be more severe than those caused by cooked carrots.
A European study, known as a double-blind, placebo-controlled food challenge, confirmed the capacity for carrots to be an allergen for tree pollen-sensitive patients.
Cherries, like many other favorite fruits, are part of the Prunoideae family as well.
As such, cherries are one of the tree pollen allergy foods to avoid for a lot of people with birch pollen allergies.
Peaches are part of the Prunoideae subfamily and may be a fruit to avoid for people allergic to birch tree pollen.
Plum trees are related to cherries and almonds, meaning means that the tree shares many of the same properties, which unfortunately include the cross-reactive proteins.
This tree pollen is a pain for allergy sufferers, and research has pointed out that OAS patients who ate plums were more likely to cause lip swelling, itchy lips, tongue, and throat, as well as dryness and hardness in the throat.
Other Birch Tree Pollen Allergy Foods to Avoid
Top Elm Tree Pollen Allergy Foods To Avoid
Top Oak Tree Pollen Allergy Foods To Avoid
Grass Pollen Allergy Foods To Avoid
Although unrelated to tree pollen, here is a list of other foods that may negatively impact people allergic to grass pollens, especially in the summer:
- Black Pepper
- White Potatoes
Tips to Control or Lessen Pollen-Allergy Symptoms
Because of the similarities in plant species, it’s unnecessary and unlikely that you’ll be able to avoid tree pollen-sensitive foods altogether.
However, you can do a few things to lessen your tree pollen allergy symptoms.
- Rinse Off Fresh Fruits and Vegetables – You can reduce tree pollen proteins from the surface of fruits and vegetables by rinsing them under cold water for at least 30 seconds.
- Peel Fruits and Vegetables – Peeling tree pollen-sensitive fruits and vegetables will also help to remove tree pollen proteins.
- Cook Fruits and Vegetables – Cooking tree pollen-sensitive fruits and vegetables can also help to eliminate tree pollen proteins.
- Check for Cross-Contamination – If tree pollen-sensitive foods are prepared in the same area as other foods, there is a risk of cross-contamination. Make sure to check labels and ask questions about how food is prepared to avoid tree pollen cross-contamination.
- Check for label warnings – The FDA requires that tree-nut and peanut allergens are on food labels, but no other tree pollen allergens. However, some companies voluntarily list tree pollen allergens on their labels.
While tree pollen allergies can make life difficult, there are ways to lessen your tree pollen allergy symptoms.
By identifying your personal tree pollen allergy foods to avoid, you can help to control your tree pollen allergies.
Check labels, ask about food preparation, and rinse, peel, or cook tree pollen-sensitive fruits and vegetables before eating them.
You can take antihistamines to control your temporary symptoms, but you should visit an allergist to get a tree pollen allergy test and find out which tree pollens cause problems for you.
As always, let me know what you think of our list of Tree Pollen Allergy Foods to Avoid? If you think we missed any you think should be included, please leave a comment below – I’d love to hear!!
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