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Citrus Intolerance

Citrus is the combined term used for a genus of flowering trees and shrubs in the rue family (Rutaceae). These plants produce edible citrus fruits, including oranges, lemons, grapefruits, and limes.

Most citrus fruits, like oranges, tangerines, grapefruits, and clementines, are eaten fresh after peeling the bitter rind. Citrus fruits are commonly juiced and used to complement soft drinks and alcoholic beverages. The more bitter fruits are used in jams and preserves with sugar to adjust the taste.

Allergies to citrus fruits are rare. Allergic reactions to raw citrus fruits are sometimes seen in people who have similar pollen allergies which is known as cross-reactivity.

People who are allergic to grasses, in particular, may experience allergy symptoms to citrus fruits. A 2013 study of 72 children and young adults with grass pollen allergies studied exposure to fresh lemon, orange, and clementine with a prick test. It found that 39 per cent of the participants who were allergic to pollen also had sensitivities to citrus.

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Symptoms of citrus allergies include:

  Swelling of the face or lips
  Rash or hives
  Abdominal cramps
  Nausea or vomiting
  Diarrhea
  Anaphylaxis (rare)

Citrus intolerance/sensitivity

Citrus fruit sensitivity or intolerance is where a person presents various digestive symptoms after the consumption of citrus-derived products. A less severe condition than an allergy, this condition can still be uncomfortable and embarrassing for the individual.

Symptoms of citrus intolerance or citrus sensitivity include:

  Bloating
  Diarrhea
  Tiredness
  Gas

Nutrition

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Citrus fruits are a great source of vitamin C, the nutrient that helps the immune system and keeps your skin in good condition. Citrus also has a decent level of other vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and copper.

Replacing key nutrients when eliminating citrus

It is imperative that you use alternative items in your diet when undertaking either a short or long term elimination diet to maintain nutrient balance.

Below are good examples or nutritional alternatives when eliminating citrus:

B Vitamins

Oats, rye, buckwheat, brown rice, quinoa, brewer’s yeast, peanuts, mushrooms, soybeans, split peas, pecans, sunflower seeds, lentils, cashews, chickpeas, broccoli, hazelnuts, peppers

Vitamin C

Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, peppers, spinach, cabbage, turnip greens, leafy greens.

Potassium

Dried apricots, salmon, mackerel, tuna, monkfish, white beans, lentils, kidney beans, avocado, butternut squash, spinach, mushrooms, bananas, potatoes

Phosphorus

Brown rice, oats, rye, quinoa, chicken, turkey, pork, liver, sardines, scallops, salmon, mackerel, crab, milk, yoghurt, cottage cheese, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, pine nuts, almonds, pistachios, cashews

Magnesium

Buckwheat, rye, millet, brown rice, quinoa, kelp, almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, peanuts, walnuts, tofu, coconut, soya beans, figs, apricots, dates, prawns, corn, avocado, spinach, kale, broccoli, Swiss chard, turnip greens, collards

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