If you are allergic to latex you should look into the foods that can cross react with this allergy as it may explain any issues you have and allergic reactions you get from certain fruit and vegetables.
What is papaya?
Papaya (paw paw) is a tropical fruit of the Caricaceae family which grows in Central America. It is generally very well tolerated. It is low in salicylates and also a low FODMAP fruit, both things that can irritate some people gastrointestinal tract.
Oral allergy syndrome and papaya
People who are also allergic to cedar and cypress trees can cross react with papaya. This is generally not a serious reaction, but causes hay fever like symptoms, itchy lips, mouth, throat and tongue.
How I discovered I had an allergy to papaya
I was visiting my sister’s house a while ago now, back in the summer when we were eating meals in the garden, wearing dresses and not worrying about taking a coat when we went out.
She cooked me a lovely meal from The Eczema Detox: the low-chemical diet for eliminating skin inflammation CookBook (more on that in a later blog post)
The main course was a delicious fresh herby cod with sweet potato wedges and green beans. Simple, tasty and easy, my kind of meal!
Papaya is great for anyone with eczema (but not a latex allergy)
The dessert my sister prepared was a papaya fruit which I have to say tasted delicious. Papaya is great for anyone with eczema, but not if you’re allergic to it! It was also recommended in the Eczema Detox Cookbook and since we both get eczema it seemed like the perfect end to the meal.
From the first mouthful I felt nauseous. I should have stopped eating it but at the time I didn’t attribute it to the fruit. I gradually got worse and worse and on the drive home, I honestly thought I wouldn’t make it home without mishap… need I say more.
What kind of allergic reaction did I get from Papaya?
I spent the night with a sick bowl by the bed feeling so ill and the rest of the night scurrying to the bathroom. The less said about that the better. I finally felt well enough to relax and fell asleep at 5am. I cancelled my alarm and sacked off the morning ParkRun in favour of recuperation. I felt rotten, but the nausea and stomach upset had passed. As I nursed a sore belly I wondered, what could have caused this?
How do tell the difference between food poisoning and allergy?
Was it food poisoning? I didn’t think so. I’ve had that kind of 12-24 hour food poisoning before and usually I don’t feel so much like I’m going to actually be sick. It’s always focused down the other end.
Food poisoning is also not so instant. You wouldn’t normally feel sick while eating a food which contained dangerous bacteria. It usually takes time to get to your stomach and then it reacts and expels the intruding germs.
So I had to make that awful phone call to my lovely sister. Were you sick last night?
No… she was fine, and also mortified that what she cooked could have made me ill. But we ate exactly the same food so what was it? She was fine and I most definitely was not.
Latex and papaya cross reaction
It took me about five minutes to discover the possible culprit – Thank you Google. Papaya cross reacts with latex. Boom! I am quite badly allergic to latex and this can cross react with quite a few different foods.
Latex Food Syndrome is caused by the body confusing the proteins it encounters in food to that of latex proteins to which it is already sensitised.
Here are the foods that can react with latex;
- Bell pepper
- Dust allergy (not a food but can be related)
There could also be a link with oral allergy syndrome as kiwi and potatoes, dust mites and ragweed pollen contain similar protein markers. The body of someone allergic to one, can confuse other similar foods as something to attack. Visit Anaphylaxis UK for more information.
Papaya, mango and cashew
There might also be a connection with an allergy to cashew nuts. Read ‘Cross reactivity between papaya, mango and cashew’. I can’t find any other sources that mention this but I’m now going to find some more proof.
I’d dismissed latex food syndrome
Now I had never considered this because I can eat kiwi, banana and other latex containing fruits so this was a bit of new one for me. Papaya is not something I ever eat. I’m a very traditional fruit eater and I’m not sure if I’ve had papaya before and if I did, could I have had a reaction and just put it down to IBS? I’ll never know. But without doing a food challenge I’ll never really be able to confirm this one. But I’m pretty certain that it was the Papaya because it all began pretty much right at the pudding stage.
Can you get tested for papaya allergy?
I will be speaking to my allergy specialist and Dietitian next time I see them to see if this could have been the cause. A simple test may give us some confirmation, so I’ll update you on this one.
Do you have a latex allergy? Do you avoid any fruit because of this? Have you ever had a reaction to Papaya?