This is a simplified description of thaumatin proteins – there are more resources available at the bottom of the page for further reading for those who are interested in knowing more.
What are thaumatin proteins?
Thaumatins are a lesser known allergen found in plants. It gives plants the sweet taste and is often used as an additive to foods to add flavour. It is also sometimes referred to as thaumatin-like proteins (TLP).
Thaumatin proteins have been shown to maintain their shape after thermal processing and are resistant to digestive enzymes. This makes them an important allergenic protein of note.
Which foods contain Thaumatin proteins?
The World Health Organization (WHO) recognises 6 foods as containing thaumatin proteins known to cause allergic reactions after consumption of food.
all contain thaumatin proteins. More recent studies have suggested that garlic
also contains thaumatin proteins. The most up to date information for foods containing thaumatins are on the Cross Reactivity Tool.
Which pollens contain thaumatin proteins?
There are 4 pollen allergens associated with Thaumatin proteins including Japanese cedar, olive tree
, common cypress and common cedar trees.
Thaumatin is also well documented as being present in Cannabis sativa
, the plant processed to make cannabis and hemp
What symptoms do they cause?
Allergy to foods containing thaumatins have a wide range of symptoms and severity including urticaria (hives or welts), angioedema (swelling under the skin), nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting or breathlessness and anaphylactic shock.
What is the importance of knowing whether a reaction is to thaumatin proteins or other allergens?
Multiple allergies are becoming more common and this often leads people to impose a strict restrictive diet on themselves. This can lead to a poor diet lacking in essential nutrients and frustration over a lack of eating options. Knowing which foods are the most likely to be causing your reactions can bring more options back into your diet.
This is why food diaries continue to be an important tool in diagnosis of your allergies – noting the times reactions took place and what medications were taken are a necessary starting point for a proper diagnosis.
There is more information on food diaries HERE
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