The Suprising Connection Between Nickel Allergy and Food

December 30, 2014
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Hi friends!  You might think it’s unusual to talk about something like nickel allergy on a design blog, but I have so many friends who’ve also struggled with this issue that I wanted to share what I’ve learned with you.  After living with uncomfortable and embarrassing rashes for months on end, I finally discovered the link between nickel allergy and food! 

The connection between nickel allergy and food

I think the reason so many people are experiencing problems with nickel allergy is because every day more and more of us are transitioning to healthier, plant-based diets.  And while plant-based foods are a great source of anti-oxidants, phytonutrients and minerals, they often contain nickel.  Since soil is rich in nickel, so are many of the foods grown in soil. 

Nickel, in and of itself, isn’t harmful.  However, in a nickel-sensitive person, too much nickel can cause problems, including an intensely-itchy rash that may appear anywhere on the body, but often appears as hand eczema.  Other symptoms include swelling, pain, nausea, insomnia, and anxiety.

As nickel-sensitive people increase their intake of healthier foods, they eventually surpass the body’s ability to handle all of the extra nickel they’re eating and start experiencing nickel-related problems.  In fact, doctors are reporting an increase in nickel-related food allergies due, in part, to the growing popularity of whole, unprocessed foods. 

As I share in my nickel guidebook, my first major nickel-related outbreak occurred just a couple of weeks after my husband and I watched this video, ran out and bought a juicer, and began making juices containing lots of raw fruits and veggies. 

We were so excited about our new healthy habit that we probably overdid it a bit.  Little did I know, I was overloading my body with nickel from two high-nickel foods (spinach and kale) and two “trigger” foods (apples and lemons).

Of course, I’m not recommending you ditch your healthy diet due to an allergy to nickel. My diet is still made up of a large amount of plant-based foods, but now that I’m aware of the nickel allergy and food connection, I’m careful not to overdo certain high-nickel foods.  By listening to my body and paying attention to the symptoms, I’ve learned where my tolerance level lies, and I know better than to tempt fate by overeating the foods I’m sensitive to.  

Nickel Allergy and Food

The foods considered to be highest in nickel vary according to different sources, but following is a list of those most often identified as nickel-rich:

  • Oats, whole wheat, wheat germ, wheat bran, buckwheat, brown rice;
  • Beans (green, brown, white), lentils, peas, soy, legumes (including peanuts), leeks, kale, spinach, bean sprouts;
  • Raspberries, pineapple, prunes, figs, dates, canned fruits;
  • All nuts (especially almonds), all seeds;
  • Tea, cocoa, dark chocolate, licorice, baking powder, and canned foods.

In addition, other foods can aggravate nickel allergy, even though the foods themselves don’t contain a lot of nickel.  These “trigger” foods include onions, carrots, apples, citrus fruits, beer, red wine, tuna, mackerel, and herring.  Many of these foods can be tolerated if they’re cooked, though.

If you know you’re sensitive to nickel and you suspect that certain foods or drinks are triggering your symptoms, a little detective work can help uncover the culprits. 

Try eliminating any suspect foods (they’re probably foods you eat often or crave) for two or three weeks, then gradually reintroduce them, one at a time.  This will allow you to identify which high-nickel foods you can tolerate and which you’ll need to reduce or avoid.

A rash is the body’s way of letting us know something’s wrong.  By paying attention to your body’s signals, becoming more aware of how your skin reacts after eating high-nickel foods, reducing or avoiding problem foods, and keeping a positive mindset, you’ll be on your way to lasting relief from the discomfort of food-related nickel allergy.

If you’d like to learn more about food-related nickel allergy as well as several other surprising nickel allergy triggers and what I did to become completely rash-free, I wrote a guidebook sharing my experience in the hope that it would help others.  If you suspect you’re dealing with an allergy to nickel, I hope you’ll check it out.  It’s filled with simple and specific steps you can take to free yourself from the discomfort of nickel allergy.  Feel free to contact me if you have any questions–I love to help!

xo jane

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