Tomato Allergy – Bothersome, But Rarely Serious

Is A Tomato Allergy, A Tomato Sensitivity, And A Tomato Intolerance One And The Same?

Do you have a tomato allergy, a tomato intolerance, or a sensitivity to tomatoes? In some circles, these are treated as three different issues associated with eating tomatoes. In other circles, these are treated as more or less one and the same thing, which is the way we will address these disorders in this article. When we have a tomato allergy, it means that a protein, a chemical, or a compound in the tomato is taken by the immune system to be a toxin. The immune system releases histamines to fight these supposed toxins. The histamines often fight friendly cells in addition, leading to a rash or other symptoms commonly associated with an allergy. It's the histamines that most often cause us problems, and not the supposed toxins.

As far as sensitivity to tomatoes is concerned, it is different from an allergy in name only, the implication being that the symptoms of a tomato sensitivity would be somewhat milder. A tomato intolerance on the other hand might suggest that there something in the tomato that the body normally would be able to break down, but is for some reason is unable to do so. That reason can often be a lack of an enzyme or protein that is needed to break a compound or substance down. The end result can sometimes be an accumulation of chemicals in the body that eventually prove to be toxic, and overload organs such as the liver, spleen, or the kidneys. This seems unlikely to be the case with tomatoes, so we can treat an intolerance and an allergy as one and the same thing.

Where Salicylate Enters The Picture

The culprit in tomatoes appears to be salicylate. Salicylate is a naturally occurring chemical that is found in a wide variety of foods. Salicylate is also a common ingredient in aspirin and pain medication. If a person is allergic or sensitive to aspirin or pain medications, as well as being allergic to tomatoes, there's a good chance that it's the salicylate that’s to blame.

Tomatoes and other members of the nightshade family are particularly high in salicylate content, but this chemical is also found in a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Fruits that contain meaningful amounts of salicylate include apples, peaches, raspberries, strawberries, cherries and grapefruit, which may help to explain why young children will sometimes break with the hives when eating strawberries. Vegetables containing salicylate include cauliflower, beans, broccoli, spinach, and cucumbers. However, the degree to which salicylates are present in tomatoes is very much greater than is the case with most other fruits and vegetables.

Some people are more sensitive to salicylates than are others, while most people are not at all sensitive to the chemical. For those who are sensitive, some can eat tomatoes in limited amounts, while others cannot tolerate the vegetable (actually a fruit) at all. Some can eat tomatoes that have been cooked or canned without any problem. Others can't even enjoy a pizza.

Severe Reactions Are Rare

Severe reactions to tomatoes are actually somewhat rare, which is why you rarely hear about anyone who has gone into anaphylactic shock from eating a tomato. It has happened however, as there are a few people who are hypersensitive to tomatoes. In most cases however, the symptoms one might suffer are fairly mild, or at least are not life threatening.

The Symptoms Of Allergic Reactions To Tomatoes



Tomato Allergy Studies

The percentage of the general population who have a tomato allergy isn't known, and as we have said, the instances of people suffering extreme reactions from eating tomatoes are quite rare. There are however, enough people that have some degree of sensitivity to the plant to warrant a number of studies in the area. The results of these studies has shown that it isn't solely salicylates that are responsible for the allergic reactions. There apparently are three different proteins in tomatoes that the immune system might perceive as being allergens, and recently, another potential allergen has been discovered in the skin of the tomato.

In some instances, a food intolerance situation can cause problems in the digestive tract and in various organs in the body, whereas an allergy usually does not. While a food intolerance can sometimes be difficult to deal with, and at times can cause serious health issues, food allergies, while being less common, can sometimes bring with them much more serious symptoms, including anaphylactic shock, and possibly death. The good news is, if you haven't been bothered by anything before from eating tomatoes, you're unlikely to have any problems with tomatoes in the future, and you should be able to continue to enjoy fresh tomatoes, cooked tomatoes, pizza, or whatever.




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