by Gianluca Tognon
Nickel is an omnipresent oligoelement and it is the most widespread cause of allergies to metal.
Allergy to nickel is a recurrent problem that can develop at any age, and affects more women than men. Food is considered as one of the main source of exposure to nickel for the populations, and the presence of a certain amount of nickel in a sensible person’s diet can cause dermatitis.
It is not easy to establish which food is to avoid, because generally vegetal foods are richer in nickel than animal foods, and nickel concentration depends on the amount of nickel in the soil where they were cultivated, and on the eventual contamination of the soil with industrial and urban waste, as well as on the distance from nickel foundries to the soil. Some drugs and food supplements also contain nickel.
Here are 10 pieces of advice if you suffer from nickel allergy:
- Avoid all foods characterized by a high concentration of nickel, like cocoa, chocolate, gelatin, soy, oatmeal, legumes (beans, peas, lentils, peanuts), walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds, sunflower seeds and flax.
- Avoid canned food, nickel dissociates from the can and moves into the food.
- Animal foods generally contain less nickel than vegetal foods. Meat, turkey and eggs are acceptable in a low-nickel diet. Except for some fish varieties that are known to contain high nickel concentrations such as tuna, herring, shellfish, salmon and mackerel, fish can be eaten without problem in the context of a low nickel diet.
- The amount of nickel in milk is low. Therefore, milk and milk products such as butter, cheese, cottage cheese and ricotta can be eaten safely.
- The amount of nickel in cereals is low. Therefore, grains like rice, wheat or corn (including corn flakes, popcorn, etc…) are allowed.
- Potatoes, cabbage and cucumbers can be eaten. However, green onions and garlic, should be consumed in moderation.
- Green leaves should be eaten sparingly because of the possibility of containing considerable amounts of nickel. Young leaves are to be preferred, because they contain lower amounts of nickel. Consuming mushrooms is not a problem.
- Concerning fruit, bananas can be consumed sparingly, as well as apples (max. 3-4 per week) and citrus (max. 4 times per week).
- Tea and coffee can be consumed sparingly (max. 2 cups per day).
- While cooking, metal utensils must not be used and will be replaced with plastic utensils. Acid meals (eg. tomatoes, tomato sauce) should not be cooked in stainless steel dishes because the acids can promote the transfer of nickel to the food. The first stream of water that comes out of the tap in the morning should not be drunk or used for cooking because nickel can be released from the tubes during the night.