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You Can Be "Allergic" To Avocados Without Having A Food Allergy

Refinery29 logo Refinery29 7/03/2017 Sarah Jacoby
Refinery29 © Photographed by Alexandra Gavillet. Refinery29

Ever feel like your tongue is a little itchy after eating your morning avocado toast? It's more common than you might think! And, as this recent video from SciShow explains, a real medical condition — oral allergy syndrome (OAS) — may be to blame. Basically, your immune system is getting overly cautious and majorly confused.

Normally, your tree and pollen allergies are caused by proteins in those plants. When you come in contact with them, your body mistakes those proteins for dangerous intruders, causing all those symptoms you know and love (e.g. runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing).

But, in the case of oral allergy syndrome, your body has taken a couple more overprotective steps and is now confusing the proteins in your food for the proteins in whatever plants you're allergic to.

If you have OAS and your allergies are normally triggered by birch, for instance, they might also be set off when you eat apples, carrots, plums, or, sadly, avocados. But if you're allergic to grass, it's more likely you'll have a reaction to melon or tomatoes. And the most frustrating thing is that OAS doesn't usually develop until your teens or early 20s — after you've had years and years of eating delicious guac without any problems.

The good news is that the OAS reaction tends to be much milder than full-on food allergies. Rather than having your throat swell shut, you'll probably just get a kind of itchy, irritated feeling in your mouth and, maybe, a bit of an upset tummy later. That's because the proteins are digested and taken out of your system, which isn't the case for pollen proteins.

Even if your reaction is mild, though, it can unexpectedly become more serious. That means that, in general, it's still a good idea to avoid the foods that give you these reactions. Some people report that their OAS symptoms are worse when their seasonal allergies are also at their peak. Talking to an allergist is the best way to figure out what's going on — and how concerned you should be about it.

However, there are some things you can do to avoid the worst of your reactions: Since most of those troublesome proteins tend to be concentrated in the skin of fruits and veggies, the video explains, you can try to eat around that part. You can also cook whatever foods bother you, since that heat breaks down the reaction-causing proteins.

Unfortunately, that's probably not gonna work with avocados. So you might have to skip the guac altogether.

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