As I contemplated writing this article and what it would look like, I went back and forth several times. It’s not exactly an interesting topic. And it’s certainly not something that I am very passionate about. I finally realized this wasn’t about inspiration, but about helping. If I would have read this article three years ago, I would have been ecstatic to figure out something that was starting to seriously get in the way of my day to day life.
And if even just one person can relate, I will feel like I did my job.
So, what is this “thing” you ask?
Around three years ago I was gearing up on a Sunday afternoon to go play on my sand volleyball league. I knew I had to set out on the road in the next twenty minutes and I needed something light and healthy to get me through until dinnertime. I had recently purchased a few bananas and figured I would choke one down. I say “choke one down” because, to be honest, I have never liked bananas. The consistency always made me gag and eating more than a bite or so was typically all I could muster. But on this particular day I prevailed because bananas are healthy. Right? And due to being an adult, it was time to stop gagging on foods.
Within ten minutes, I was curled up in fetal position in bed, writhing in pain. I had become accustomed to this severe abdominal cramping over the past few years. It always came out of nowhere, unexpected and unexplained. The best coping method I had come up with was to curl up into a ball and pray that the pain would go away. To be honest, I would have done anything to relieve it. The nausea from the pain often made me feel like throwing up, but the intense abdominal cramping would continue. Sometimes this would go on for up to seven hours.
On this particular day I knew I couldn’t let my team down. I drove to the game (partially keeled over – smart, I know) hoping that somehow, someway, this would fix itself. I tried to drink some gingerale, and then lemon juice. I drank Pepto. I even took Ibuprofen. With no relief, I suffered through a few hours of volleyball, and by the time I drove home my pain was starting to lessen. I remember thinking on that drive home that this was getting really old. I had no idea when these sharp pains were going to hit, and it was not the first time it had ruined a perfectly good day.
Fast forward to the next day. I was heading off to my office job, and again, grabbed a banana to quell my hunger on the drive in. After a few minutes at work, I could barely function. My stomach was cramping in intense pain and I was doing deep breathing exercises in the back just to be able to sit upright.
And suddenly, a light bulb went off. Didn’t this exact thing happen yesterday? I could only assume it must have been a bad bunch of bananas and decided to immediately dispose of the rest. But I still found the occurrence odd. Keep in mind that bananas were not something I preferred, and did not buy regularly, so this incident sort of stuck out in my mind.
A few days later I randomly started googling things like “getting sick from bananas” and “bananas and stomach pain.” At the time of my search, I didn’t find very much information aside from other people asking why bananas were causing them “intense stomach pain and nausea.”
But then I found this.
A random, short blurb under the title “the latex fruit syndrome.”
When I read “This association of latex allergy and allergy to plant-derived foods is called latex-fruit syndrome. An increasing number of plant sources, such as avocado, banana, chestnut, kiwi, peach, tomato, potato and bell pepper, have been associated with this syndrome…” I felt like jumping up and screaming!
Not because I was so happy about my newfound “syndrome,” but because I was easily able to identify all of the times my day or evening had been completely ruined in the last few months. And all of those incidences involved me eating an avocado or banana or tomato.
Now, you might be thinking… um, wasn’t that pretty obvious? And the answer is no. No it wasn’t!
I wasn’t thinking of the banana that was in the smoothie that I frequently purchased from a local smoothie shop. After all, it mostly tasted like peanut butter.
I wasn’t remembering that most sushi rolls had a layer of avocado in them.
I never thought for a second that the fresh salsa at the Mexican restaurant with raw, unprocessed tomatoes could have been the culprit.
None of these things occurred to me over the course of several years. With every recent incident, I could match that I had eaten a banana, tomato or an avocado within the hour of my horrible stomach pain.
All of that to say this discovery has been life changing for me. As soon as I had the information, I googled more about “latex fruit syndrome and latex fruit allergies.” To be honest, there isn’t a ton of information out there. However there is a list of “suspected vegetables” (and fruits) on this interesting web page.
I have mentioned this “allergy” at routine doctor visits, and so far every doctor has told me they are unfamiliar with it.
To my knowledge, I do not have an actual latex allergy (as far as skin contact goes) and so I did not see this as a link to be concerned about.
Since my discovery, I have tried to look up more information and from what I can understand, fruits and veggies that carry this protein also have varying levels of latex. So, this means some of the fruits on the list I can eat and have no reaction to, while others, such as bananas, cause an immediate reaction.
By coming to this realization, I essentially diagnosed myself with this “syndrome” and have since completely avoided these foods. In doing so, I no longer experience these (what I thought were) random, debilitating, stomach pain episodes.
I hope that if someone reading this has accepted that stomach pain is a part of your weekly schedule, you will check the latex linked fruit and vegetable list and see if you can make any connections. I had never heard of this allergy prior to my research and so there may be many others who are not aware. Simply making this discovery has had a huge impact on my well being…and it could for you as well!
*I would like to note that I have no science background and am not claiming to be a medical expert. I simply made the connection between these foods and my stomach pain and have done a little bit of research in order to be aware of foods to avoid. I have also made other discoveries and realizations surrounding my “latex-fruit syndrome” that I did not get into here, so please feel free to comment or email me with any questions.