Fruit allergy, are you serious?

Five-year-old Reyansh Verma hated fruits – not just one but all of them. Even before getting into kindergarten, he knew which ones fall in the category of fruits and has to steer clear of them. Surprisingly, he even detested the smell of fruits and would ask his mother to clean a plate repeatedly if it were used to keep fruits before.

Once his parents tried to trick him into having a banana and he threw up. That is when they realised that it is not Reyansh’s ‘moodiness’ but some kind of a medical condition. An allergen test proved that he is suffering from ‘Fruit allergy,’ what doctors also call ‘Oral allergy syndrome.’

Studies say that 10 per cent of all food allergies worldwide comprise of fruit allergy. Some are born with the problem while others develop it as young adults. Though, many begin with reacting to a certain class of fruits like say apple, pear, cherry or plum (all from the rosaceae family), they eventually become intolerant to fruits of all kinds.

Dr Dipika Agarwal, senior nutritionist, Indraprastha Apollo hospital says, “Fruit allergy is uncommon but not entirely rare. In most cases, victims are diagnosed with a genetic fault ‘Fructose intolerance’ or ‘Fructosemia.’ Such people cannot produce enzymes to digest fructose, and since all fruits contain the sugar, the body rejects it manifesting in fruit allergy.”

She adds, “Some others suffering from fruit allergy are found to be allergic to fruit proteins ‘Profirans.’ Such people are also sensitive to pollen of trees and have a history of asthma.”
Thankfully, fruit allergy is not fatal. Symptoms include itching, rash or blisters where the fruit touches the lips and mouth, nausea, diarrhoea and even swelling of the throat making it feel like it is closing. Rarely, however, has it been known to be fatal.

Dr Komal Malik, nutritionist, Columbia Asia hospital says, “Fruit allergy does not cause any outward symptoms. Hence it is called an ‘Oral allergy syndrome’ as the problems occur only when the fruit is consumed. So it is not a killer disease, though, lack of vitamins, minerals and fibres in the body due to lack of fruits may compromise your health badly.”

So how does one substitute for fruits? Dr Sachi Sohal, senior dietician, BLK Super Speciality hospital says, “We advise patients to have lots of green vegetables – spinach, beans, broccoli etc. Then they should have colourful veggies like carrots, red and yellow bell peppers to fulfil the body’s requirements of vitamins and antioxidants.”

“Other than that, have coconut water for potassium and amla for vitamin C. Regular intake of whole grains, cereals and pulses is a must. Listen to your body’s signals and take supplements. Fruit allergy is a lifelong problem. Be prepared to tackle it.”

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