Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Anecdotes about developing quinoa allergies

As seen in the preceding post, I've got a theory about what might be behind the rise in food allergies. 

I was surprised to learn today that quinoa is considered a low-allergenic food, despite it being a good source of tocopherols (Vitamin E) like wheat. According to my theory, quinoa should be likely to trigger an allergy when eaten together with Vitamin C and beta carotene (non-meat form of Vitamin A), especially if a lemony oil is also eaten. 

I was fascinated to come across this blog post and see that quinoa allergies have been triggered under many conditions that accord with my theory. The original poster developed a quinoa allergy after eating a quinoa/bean/raw pepper dish; raw pepper is a good source of both beta carotene and Vitamin C. Then a commenter reports developing the allergy upon eating quinoa with turkey after Thanksgiving Dinner; while the comment doesn't say whether sweet potatoes--a very good source of beta carotene and Vitamin C--were eaten as part of the Thanksgiving Dinner, they're considered a standard part of a US Thanksgiving meal. Another commenter mentions ending up in the hospital overnight with a horrific allergic reaction (memory loss can result from an allergic reaction?!) after eating a quinoa-stuffed pepper. Another commenter reports starting to notice a quinoa allergy when eating quinoa with tomatoes, which contain the entire triad mentioned below, Vitamins A, C, and E! (Maybe this vitamin richness of tomatoes is why my mother-in-law was allergic to tomatoes for a decade or so, although she seems to be over it now.) A later commenter links developing an allergy to quinoa to eating it in a Mexican salad with tomato and lime juice (citral!). 

The only comment not connecting development of a quinoa allergy to a food item in alignment with my theory is from a woman who was eating it with rice milk, but she does mention that she was breastfeeding at the time, so maybe she was taking postnatal multivitamins steadily. I know that I'm far more attentive to my vitamin needs when I'm pregnant or breastfeeding.

I wonder if quinoa just got labeled as unlikely to be allergenic because it used to be primarily eaten boiled in water or chicken stock, the way it has been traditionally eaten in the Andes. There is not a lot of Vitamin A and C in porridge or chicken soup. (Also, both the porridge and soup are likely to have added salt, but more on the salt aspect in a later post....) Will we see an increase in quinoa allergies as people going gluten-free eat it regularly in their bread, crackers, salads, tabouleh, etc.?

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