Blueberries are a popular berry used in desserts, cereals and as a healthy snack, but for some people eating blueberries can cause severe abdominal pain. Severe abdominal pain is an alarming symptoms that will need to be evaluated by your family doctor or gastroenterologist. Severe abdominal pain may be the result of a salicylate sensitivity, food allergy or intolerance. Before treating the condition by modifying your diet, talk with your doctor. Take note if any other berries or foods cause similar symptoms after eating.
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Salicylate sensitivity is condition that primarily affects your digestive system after eating foods that contain salicylates. Salicylates are naturally occurring chemicals in certain fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts that can trigger abdominal pain. The chemical composition of salicylates is similar to aspirin. If you have a known aspirin sensitivity, you should avoid eating foods that contain this substance. Some drugs contain salicylates, such as pain relievers, muscle relaxants and antacids. Abdominal pain can develop within minutes of eating blueberries if you are sensitive to salicylates.
Severe abdominal pain after eating blueberries may be connected to a food allergy. An allergic reaction to blueberries is caused by a reaction in your immune system to the proteins found in blueberries. Even though the proteins in blueberries do not pose any threat to the body, the immune system reacts to them as if they are dangerous. This mistake of the immune system places your body on alert and defensive chemicals are released. Immunoglobulin E antibodies, histamine and other chemicals are produced to fight off the mistaken harmful proteins. The presence of these chemicals causes most allergy symptoms, such as stomach pain.
Food intolerances will cause similar symptoms of food allergies and food sensitivities and will need to be evaluated by a doctor to decipher the difference. Blueberry intolerance is caused by the inability of the digestive system to break down the proteins. Food intolerance symptoms are not caused by an immune system reaction, but rather a defect in the digestive tract. Your small intestines fail to create the appropriate enzymes needed to digest the blueberry proteins. Abdominal pain, gas, bloating, diarrhea and cramping can develop within a half hour of eating blueberries.
If diagnosed with any of these conditions, avoid the consumption of blueberries. Read the ingredients on every beverage and food you eat to ensure you don’t’ accidentally ingest blueberries.