In Germany, many people are starting to eat vegetarian or even vegan food for a variety of reasons, which initially has many positive aspects. But because quite a few plant foods are also potent allergens, this can become a problem for vegans.
“These mainly include legumes such as peas, lentils, soybeans or peanuts,” reports Prof. Regina Treudler, Senior Physician at the Clinic and Polyclinic for Dermatology, Venereology and Allergology at University Hospital Leipzig (UKL) and Director of LICA (Leipzig Interdisciplinary Allergology Center). “But nuts like cashews, hazelnuts or macadamia nuts are also potent allergens.”
Tingling of the tongue, swelling in the mouth and throat or on the lips, but also nausea and vomiting: Allergic reactions to food manifest themselves in many ways. “In the worst case, it can cause allergic shock with a skin rash, difficulty breathing or a drop in blood pressure,” explains the UKL expert.
Acid Blockers May Promote Allergies
Food allergies usually develop in early childhood. Most often, however, it is about intolerance to cow’s milk and chicken eggs, to which the young body first has to “get used to”. Teenagers and adults can experience so-called cross-reactions between pollen and foods, for example birch and apple or birch and soybeans.
“Unfortunately, severe allergies to legumes, for example, sometimes only manifest themselves in adulthood, without us knowing the reasons for this,” explains Professor Treudler.
However, it is known, for example, that the frequent intake of so-called acid blockers favors the development of food allergies in adults. “Poorly digested food that is immunologically active”, describes the specialist in simpler terms.
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For supporters of a gluten-free diet, the Leipzig expert at the Clinic and Polyclinic for Dermatology, Venereology and Allergology also has important advice: “A gluten-free diet should not be started lightly,” says Treudler, “often based on in errors of judgment. Not all physical discomfort or mood can be attributed to a food allergy.” Also, he tells him, many substitute foods are high in sugar.
How can potentially affected people recognize that they have a food allergy? “Anyone who can repeatedly associate unusual bodily reactions with the intake of certain foods, that is, about an hour later, should first start keeping a kind of diary,” says Professor Regina Treudler.
Specific nutritional advice
If the observations are confirmed, or of course also after a serious reaction, you should go to medical experts, preferably in a specialized center such as the LICA, where allergy experts from various disciplines in the fields of ENT, pediatrics, Laboratory and dentistry, nutritionists. Plus I work.
Because vegans who are particularly affected need specific nutritional advice to avoid deficiencies, for example, in protein intake.
Possible insufficient effect of hyposensitization in the case of an inaccurate preliminary examination
People allergic to pollen have no reason to smile in spring: it’s the “season.” As if the symptoms that birch pollen causes in many people weren’t enough, “birch” often cross-reacts with some types of fruit.
Pollen Count Calendar
Those affected and interested can get a detailed overview of the current pollen count situation on the LICA website on the Internet.
Prof. Treudler: “Those affected have particularly strong symptoms, for example on apples when birch pollen is in the air.”
Anyone who is allergic to pollen and has respiratory problems thinking about hyposensitization needs a very thorough examination of what they are allergic to. “Because instead of the much-cited birch, which many people think of very quickly, it could also be ash; instead of the expected herbs, there could be an allergy to nettles. We know of such cases,” says Prof. Treudler.
If hyposensitization is desired, this must be clearly determined, otherwise everything will not be effective enough,” he emphasizes. Experts like those at the Leipzig Interdisciplinary Center for Allergology (LICA), which she heads, can do better.
What climate change means for allergy sufferers
LICA is currently intensively investigating what climate change means for people with pollen allergies in an interdisciplinary way with the involvement of the UKL ENT and Children’s Clinics and Laboratory Medicine and in cooperation with the Leipzig Center for Environmental Research. and the Center for Integrative Biodiversity. Investigate.
The pollen season is lengthened by longer periods of warm weather. “New species like ragweed and tree of heaven may spread and become increasingly important to allergy sufferers. The renaturation of open-pit mines also promotes the spread of allergenic plants”, emphasizes Prof. Jan C. Simon, Director of the Dermatology, Venereology and Allergology Clinic, who is preparing further work in this area together with Prof. Treudler and Collaborating Partners.
by Markus Bien