During the summer it’s easy to let your guard down when it comes to food—or just make a lot of excuses that can lead to poor choices! Atmosphere and social pressure can also play a huge role in what we choose to eat.
Frequently partaking in summer favorites like lemonade, ice cream, or those summer happy hours of wine and beer are out of the normal routine for most of us, which is why food sensitivities and reactions tend to escalate during this season. In fact, it seems like everyone these days has some sort of sensitivity to food. Is it made up or a real phenomenon? Let’s explore three of the top summer sensitivities that can spell trouble.
Not-so-happy happy hour
Beer and wine are staples for summer fare at picnics, ballparks, and boardwalks, but for some people these happy hour drinks can trigger unpleasant problems like flushing, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, and headaches. While a hangover might be the first to blame, symptoms that begin within 15 minutes of sipping these alcoholic beverages could indicate the real issue is histamine intolerance brought on by a DAO (diamine oxidase) enzyme deficiency.
Histamine is a chemical present in a variety of fermented food and drinks such as beer, wine, and aged cheese. If your body is not producing enough of the DAO enzyme, it will have trouble breaking down and processing these foods and beverages. White or rosé wines have lower histamine levels than red wine. In fact, red wine has 20 to 200 percent more histamine than white wine.
One strategy to keep the wine from turning on you is to drink a cup of black tea first, because it has a histamine-reducing effect. However, one of the most effective ways to enjoy your wine and not worry about the consequences is by taking a food-grade DAO enzyme called Umbrellux DAO 15 to 20 minutes prior to consumption, as it can dramatically reduce symptoms and reactions associated with beer, wine, cheese, or any fermented food high in histamines.
Nothing says summer like a double scoop of ice cream. Ice cream also contains dairy, so if you are lactose intolerant (which means you lack the enzyme called lactase to break down the sugars in dairy properly) eating ice cream can give you diarrhea, gas, and bloating. The good news is that you can take a lactase-enzyme pill before you splurge, which will help you digest the lactose in ice cream without the ill effects. Another way to get your summer frozen-dessert summer is making it with fresh fruit. New electric kitchen tools can turn anything from bananas, strawberries, and melons into something that looks and tastes a lot like ice cream without having to navigate around a dairy intolerance.
Limit the lemonade
Beware of summer’s favorite citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and limes, which can cause oral allergy syndrome or contact reactions in some people. Most people don’t realize how often lemons are used as flavoring in water and foods or in fruit salads to prevent browning.
Symptoms of a citrus reaction can include swelling of the lips or the mouth or a skin rash with swelling, redness, burning, and itching. In some cases, swelling inside the throat can interfere with breathing. The acid in citrus fruits can also provoke acid reflux symptoms, causing heartburn. Some people have citric-acid intolerance, a condition that occurs and recurs when your body has a hard time digesting and metabolizing citric acid found in food.
The difference in a citric acid intolerance versus a citrus allergy lies in the symptoms of the former that appear to develop only after some time. Clearly avoiding citrus is the best strategy. Consider other foods of summer instead, like bananas, coconuts, mangoes and avocados, if you are allergic or have an intolerance to citric acid. These fruits contain very little or no citric acid. Antihistamines can relieve mild symptoms, but breathing difficulty requires emergency treatment. If you have ever had this type of reaction to citrus fruits, stay away from summer lemonade stands.
Felicia Stoler, DCN, MS, RDN, FACSM, FAND, known as America’s Health and Wellness Expert is a registered dietitian nutritionist, exercise physiologist, and expert consultant in disease prevention, wellness and healthful living. Stoler hosted the second season of TLC’s series, “Honey, We’re Killing the Kids!” which targeted unhealthy lifestyles of families, across the country, in an effort to motivate them to make positive changes.