Allergies to potatoes are rare but can affect both adults and children. After eating or coming into contact with potatoes, individuals with a potato allergy can have a moderate to serious allergic reaction.
If a person has a potato allergy, the immune system adversely responds to particular potato compounds that may include patatin or solanine. People with allergies to potatoes also have cross-sensitivity to other substances that contain allergens similar to those in potatoes.
It may be more difficult to eliminate potatoes in the diet than it seems, since many foods contain potato derivatives as secret ingredients.
In this post, we look at the signs, causes, and risk factors of an allergy to potatoes. We also look at fulfilling food alternatives and potato product avoidance tips.
What is a potato allergy?
When the immune system mistakes specific proteins in the potato for dangerous substances, a potato allergy occurs. The body treats these intruders like viruses or bacteria, and by isolating and destroying them, the immune system responds.
To try to defend the body , the immune system dispatches white blood cells and other compounds, such as the IgE antibody. Histamine is liberated by some white blood cells and mast cells. This reaction to the immune system triggers many of the symptoms of potato allergy.
The allergic reaction can be caused by many substances in potatoes, including a glycoprotein called patatin and alkaloids such as solanine. Potato allergies, like other plant allergies, food allergies, and latex allergies, may have cross-sensitivities with other allergies.
An allergy to potatoes is not the same as potato poisoning. Reports of potato poisoning claim that toxic alkaloids, including solanine, are found in unripe, sprouting, or green potatoes. They can cause drowsiness, fatigue, apathy, and gastrointestinal symptoms when ingested. This is rare; potatoes are healthy to eat in most cases and are a staple food in many countries.
After handling, peeling, or eating potatoes, people with a true potato allergy may respond immediately.
Symptoms can differ from person to person, but symptoms of potato allergy usually include:
- rhinitis, including itchy or stinging eyes, a runny or stuffy nose, and sneezing
- red, itchy skin
- hives, eczema, or similar rashes
- a sore or scratchy throat
The digestive system can be disturbed by potato allergies or intolerances as the potato substances pass through the body. Symptoms of digestive problems caused by an allergy to or intolerance to potatoes include:
- nausea or vomiting
- bloating and cramps
Who might get a potato allergy?
Potato allergies, while they are relatively rare, can affect anyone.
Researchers may not know how many people have potato allergies, but 10.1% were allergic to potatoes in a 2017 study that examined 2,000 people in a hospital allergy unit. Most of these people were allergic to potatoes that were raw, but not cooked. The individuals surveyed attended an allergy clinic and probably had existing allergies, which probably makes this figure unrepresentative of the general population.
The researchers indicated that potato allergy could be correlated with cross-sensitization of other common allergens in plants, such as birch and mugwort.
No serious allergic reactions were observed in the above study, although there have been some reports of anaphylaxis from both raw and cooked potatoes.
In the United States , the number of kids with food allergies of one type or another appears to be growing. Children who develop a potato allergy will grow out of it, similarly to other food allergies. For the remainder of their lives, though, many adults who obtain a diagnosis of potato allergy remain affected by it.
Potato plants are part of the nightshade family Solanaceae, which also includes tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers. People who have a potato allergy may also be allergic to other nightshade vegetables, as non-allergic poisoning may be caused by substances called glycoalkaloids in these plants.
Members of the nightshade family include:
- goji berries
- bell peppers
- Pepino melon
Cross-reactivity with other members of the nightshade family can occur in people with a potato allergy.
There may also be ties to potato allergies due to pollen-food syndrome, which puts a person at risk for allergic reactions to pollen from birch trees and specific plants. In addition , individuals with potato allergies can have an allergic reaction to latex as well.
40 percent of children with food allergies are estimated to have reactions to more than one food. A risk factor for having another is having one food allergy.
Foods to avoid
Potatoes are an ingredient in many meals , snacks, and even drinks. To prevent allergy symptoms from occurring, people with an allergy or aversion should avoid these items.
Foods that use potato include:
- chips, fries, and many salty snacks
- Vodka Vodka
- certain kinds of pasta, such as gnocchi
- many soups, stews, and purees
In several food products, such as shredded mozzarella cheese and some cupcakes, potato starch or potato flour is a secret ingredient. To thicken food, absorb water, or avoid those ingredients from sticking together, manufacturers use potato starch. In recipes for baked goods, potato flour often replaces wheat flour.
To ensure they are free from potatoes, anyone with a potato allergy or intolerance must read the food labels on anything they purchase.
Potato substitutes are common since individuals want a varied diet and try to avoid carbohydrates and starch. In place of potatoes, however, individuals can use several ingredients, including:
- Cauliflower. Blending steamed cauliflower and spices produces a dish similar to mashed potatoes.
- Yuca is a tuber similar to a potato but does not cause a reaction in people who are allergic to potato. For an alternative to potato chips or french fries, people can slice them thinly, then bake or fry.
- Turnips or avocado. Add seasoning and then bake or fry.
When exposed to potatoes, some people experience a serious allergic reaction, leading to anaphylaxis.
Anaphylaxis is a serious, acute allergic reaction which, if left untreated, can be life-threatening. Anaphylaxis signs caused by a food allergy typically include:
- swelling of the eyes, mouth, throat, tongue, or face
- shortness of breath or trouble catching a breath
- dizziness or loss of consciousness
- a sudden drop in blood pressure
These symptoms usually appear and build up quickly, and they require immediate medical attention.
An antihistamine drug or epinephrine injection (EpiPen) is typically given to people with a suspected serious allergic reaction to potatoes or other substances. Even if a person is taking medication, medical attention will always be needed for a person who experiences these reactions to ensure that no more complications occur.
Potato allergies are rare, but they can be bothersome, considering how popular potato products are in many cuisines. People with this allergy often have other allergies, too, such as latex, other nightshade vegetables, and other plants.
People should look out for key items and add healthier alternatives to the diet, such as cauliflower, yuca, or turnips, to avoid potatoes.
A doctor will conduct a variety of allergy tests to find out and advise them about how best to avoid allergic reactions and manage symptoms when they occur if a person believes they have a potato allergy.