A Nickel Allergy and Diet: a Possible Link?

June 29, 2022 ,

The table below shows the main nickel-containing foods that are removed during elimination diets and consumed in moderation by people who are found to be sensitive to them.

Main sources of dietary nickel

Category Foods
Grains Whole grains, especially wheat, oat, buckwheat and corn
Legumes Beans, lentils, peas, soy beans and soy products
Vegetables Asparagus, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, spinach, tomatoes, canned vegetables
Fruits Pears, bananas, canned fruits
Meat and fish Shellfish, canned fish and meat
Chocolate, cacao and black tea Especially dark chocolate
Nuts and seeds All types
Canned foods All types
Cooking utensils Stainless-steel cooking utensils used for cooking acidic foods
Tap water The first liter of tap water drawn from any faucet in the morning

Source: melisa.org

Treatment

Treatment involves avoiding contact with products containing nickel and teaching patients how to use alternative products. In the case of SNAS, the elimination diet, to be followed under the supervision of a specialist, is becoming increasingly effective. The elimination diet involves an almost total abstention from the foods listed in the table for about 2 to 3 weeks and a gradual and occasional reintroduction of the different foods so as not to overload the body.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends avoiding prolonged contact with nickel-containing objects as much as possible to avoid hypersensitisation that could turn into an allergy:

1. Choose jewelry carefully
2. Control clothing (both dyes and metallic materials present)
3. Cover metal electronics
4. Replace household items containing nickel with items made from other materials
5. In case of high sensitivity, avoid foods containing high amounts of nickel
6. Also pay attention to tap water and cigarettes!

Conclusion

Due to the variability in the nickel content of different foods and the complexity of the symptomatic manifestation, it is always advisable to consult with a dietitian in order to implement the elimination diet and follow a complete and balanced plan.

Sources

1. Tramontana M, Bianchi L, Hansel K, Agostinelli D, Stingeni L. Nickel Allergy: Epidemiology, Pathomechanism, Clinical Patterns, Treatment and Prevention Programs Endocr Metab Immune Disord Drug Target 2020; 20(7): 992-1002

2. The ESSCA Writing Group. The European Surveillance System of Contact Allergies (ESSCA): results of patch testing the standard series, 2004. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2008 ;22: 174–181.

3. Falagiani P, Di Gioacchino M, Ricciardi L, Minciullo PM, Saitta S, Carni A, Santoro G, Gangemi S, Minelli M, Bozzetti MP, Massari S, Mauro S, Schiavino D. Systemic nickel allergy syndrome (SNAS). A review. Rev Port Imunoalergologia 2008; 16 (2): 135‐147

4. Christensen OB, Moller H. External ed internal exposure to the antigen in the hand eczema of nickel allergy. Contact Dermatitis.1975; 1: 136‐41.

5. Zirwas M, Molenda M. Dietary Nickel as a cause of Systemic Contact Dermatitis. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2009 Jun 2(6): 39-43

6. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/eczema/insider/nickel-allergy

7. https://melisa.org/nickel/

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Author

Antonella Giordano
Antonella has 2 professional titles in nutrition because she graduated in Food Sciences (University of Genoa) and holds a master's degree in Nutrition (University of Bologna). She is also a biologist (University of Florence). She is a member of the Order of Biologists (ONB) since 2013 and a SINU member. Passionate about psycho-nutrition issues, her goal is to help her clients find a balance and a healthy and correct relationship with food and with their body.

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