Most people are aware of the most common food allergies, such as peanuts and shellfish. But did you know that it is possible to be allergic to almost any food or ingredient? Doctors are reportedly seeing a rising trend of allergies caused by an ingredient found in many healthy foods. Nickel is also found in soy, dark chocolate, and many other foods, and can be released from stainless steel pans when you cook acidic foods such as tomatoes.

ABC Localspoke with one woman who says she’s afflicted by the allergy. Sara Plumby experienced symptoms for months, but struggled to connect the pain with the cause. “I experienced a burning tongue, my muscles would twitch, I had sleep disruptions, and I would wake up in the morning feeling like I wasn’t rested,” she explained. She also had a persistent rash. The symptoms appeared shortly after Sara switched to a vegetarian diet, and doctors eventually connected it to a nickel allergy.

According to allergist Matthew Zirwas, of the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, many foods, such as whole grains, oatmeal, and beans, are high in nickel. “As people are trying to eat healthier, they’re actually eating more nickel,” he commented.

However, nickel allergies do not prompt a fast reaction, unlike other foods allergies, which can make the symptoms harder to connect to the cause. Dr. Zirwas explained “With this kind of allergy, it’s much more the cumulative effect of the nickel we eat.” The most common sign is an itchy rash on the palms or elbow. “If you start eating more nickel, it slowly builds up in your body until your immune system gets stimulated enough that you start to break out in this rash” commented Dr. Zirwas.

While about 15% of people have skin sensitivities to nickel found in jewelry, but no one knows how common nickel food sensitivities are, says Dr. Zirwas.

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