A Balsam of Peru allergy can be minimized for some with a strict avoidance diet. While not all individuals with a BoP allergy will need such a strict regimen, many are finally able to live reaction-free once they begin to avoid foods containing the constituents of BoP.
When I was diagnosed with Balsam of Peru allergy, I began a strict avoidance of all foods and products found on the avoid lists here. I stuck true to this diet for about 8 months before I slowly began to reintroduce some food items. There were definitely times when eating became a huge challenge. With four children and a husband to cook for, making my avoidance diet a priority was hard. I learned to whip up a few things like a quick stove-top stir fry or an omelet and I carried nuts with me as I’m not allergic to those, but one of my go-to’s became a quick protein smoothie.
I searched hard to find a protein powder that was without any balsam of peru constituents. Vanilla powders are obviously out due to the vanillin and benzoic acid, but chocolate powders are out too as they have properties of balsam of peru as well. According to the Dermatitis Academy and the BoP food lists found there, cocoa contains benzoates and eugenol. In prepared chocolate candy, additions like soy lecithin and vanilla/vanillin are a problem. As you can see from the write up I did on Balsam of Peru, everyone’s version of BoP allergy is slightly different due to the five subgroups it contains. Your version may make you allergic to eugenol or benzoate or possibly not. I choose to avoid chocolate as I know benzoate make me have reactions. Enter major sad face here. If you DO react to cocoa and chocolate, this might be why. Sometimes we can make a connection to one food or product we’ve used and then it opens up a whole world of connections. While this can make you super sad that you have to get rid of some beloved items, living reaction-free is worth it. I recommend keeping a daily diary of what you eat and what you use on your body when you’re trying to make these connections. I made a connection some time back that I’m allergic to benzoic acid. It was in a fragrance-free eye cream I was using a few years ago. I was very confused about why I had gotten basically what looked like a chemical burn on my eyes from the benzoic acid.
Benzoic Acid is connected to sodium benzoate which is in pretty much everything. This has been a major connection for me and I know avoiding benzoates can be a huge benefit for me. In extremely benzoate-sensitive individuals, avoiding Spinach and Avocado, which are extremely high in benzoate, may be helpful. Pull it out of your diet for a few weeks and then add it back in. A process of adding back in would look like eating it everyday, for 3 days. If 24-72 hours after you’ve eaten it, you don’t have any reactions (mine sometimes look like my hair falls out or my cheeks break out and become flushed. I’ve also had terrible GI upset with some reactions), then you should be able to tolerate that food item. Knowing the levels of BoP in a particular food item is really tricky. It can even depend on the age of the food as some foods increase in benzoate as they are refrigerated. We do know benzoates are incredibly high in cranberry, huckleberry and blueberry. I would recommend avoiding them if you know you are benzoate sensitive. Sodium Benzoate is a preservative in many foods like dairy and soda for one. The exact threshold for inducing systemic contact allergy for benzoate-sensitive individuals is unknown, however we do know that the amount of benzoate most foods contain naturally is much lower than when it is added as a preservative like benzoic acid or sodium benzoate. Unfortunately, it can take a lot of experimentation ( and some reactions) to figure out which BoP constituent chemicals are a problem for you and what you can tolerate. During an avoidance diet, take it all out. Go to the post I did on Balsam of Peru or the Dermatitis Academy’s food list for BofP and do your absolute best to avoid it all. Then one by one, subgroup by subgroup, add a few things back in and you just might be able to figure out your own reactions to balsam of peru!
Balsam of Peru Avoidance Diet can be one of the trickiest parts of having a BoP allergy, but it can also be the gateway we’ve all needed and never knew was there to be reaction-free. I found a few protein powders I do like. They are Egg White Protein. There are many out there and a lot of them have too much stuff added to them to be healthy for a BofP sensitive person like myself. I found two that I like and use. One is made by NOW Foods. It is their Egg White Protein Powder It’s ingredients are simple… Egg White Powder. That’s it. Music to my ears! This powder is very light, similar to other protein powders I’ve used before my allergy.
NOW Foods Egg White Protein Powder
The other egg white powder I have found and really like. It’s the Organic Egg White Powder by Muscle Egg. This powder is simply pasteurized egg whites without anything else added. I really do like this powder and have bought it many times. It is a flakey consistency, almost like they dehydrated egg whites and then broke them up into tiny flakes into the bag. A word of caution, if you were to ever add a hot liquid to your smoothie, you could scramble these! And you could actually use these as an egg scramble if you ever needed to! I’ve traveled with this egg white powder in my suitcase and whipped up breakfast smoothies for myself on vaca. Simply perfect!
Muscle Egg Organic Egg White Protein Powder
I use Cashew Milk, water and ice in my smoothies, but you could just use water and ice. I read a book by Kelly Leveque about a year and a half ago. It’s entitled Body Love and she really adopts this smoothie lifestyle. While I can’t now do all of the recipes she has in her book for smoothies, I did learn a few tips I like to pull into my smoothie routine of today. Her book Body Love is a good read. She talks about her rule of the Fab Four, that to be healthy and sustained through the day you need fiber & greens, fat, protein and a fruit or grain in each meal or smoothie. I’ve done my best at including that in my smoothies of today to make a full, rounded meal replacement.
Protein: egg white protein powder
Fiber: the book recommends chia seeds which contain cinnamic acid so that’s out. The book also recommends flaxseeds which contain ferulic acid and p-coumaric acid and is high in lignan’s which are phenolic compounds formed by two cinnamic acid residues so seems tricky – that one’s out too. It can be really tricky trying to locate new options when navigating such a strict allergy. I have found a few options that some of my allergy friends are finding useful for smoothies. I haven’t tried them yet and promise to report back when I do! The first is Psyllium Husk Powder by Now Foods. It doesn’t have any additives and it’s chemical makeup doesn’t seem to be problematic for BoP allergy. Another one to add as a fiber additive to smoothies is Apple Pectin. Pectin, a type of fiber in the cell walls of plants, helps give plants their structure. Apple pectin is extracted from apples and they are some of the richest sources of fiber. I have read that it the Apple Pectin Powder turns into a gel-like consistency quickly in water but that in a smoothie it does just fine. When I try these options, I’ll report back! For now, I add Banana for my fiber. I know bananas are safe for me. You can also add Avocado if you know you are not benzoate sensitive.
Greens: The book suggests anything green and leafy. If you know you’re benzoate sensitive, skip the spinach in your avoidance diet, but if you know you can have it then spinach is great to add. I have found little I can tolerate in this category that I blend so for now I use a banana for fiber. I do miss spinach in my smoothies!
Fats: The book suggests coconut oil, nut butters or MCT (Medium Chain Triglyceride) oil. I use a wonderful Nut Butter I get from Trader Joe’s. If you have one in your area, be sure to pick it up. YUM! I also enjoy using MCT oil. I really feel the benefits of it in my smoothie. MCT oil is refined version of coconut oil so if you have a known allergy, then you need to not use this. Not only does it give me some healthy fat to satiate my appetite and boost my energy, it also claims to help with clear thinking and I can actually feel it! One thing to note, MCT Oil does work on your digestion. Start off with just a smidge and build your way up to 1 to 2 tablespoons to spare your tummy upset! I’ve been using Keppi Keto MCT Oil and it is wonderful.
Liquids: The book suggests water, almond milk, coconut water, cashew milk. I use a mixture of cashew milk and water.
I also add into my smoothies one scoop of Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides Grass-Fed and Pasture Raised Powder. Collagen has become very popular lately toting it can improve skin and hair and even aid in digestion. If you’re headed into an avoidance diet maybe skip this and add in a few weeks into your avoidance. I don’t believe there is anything included in the collage peptides that will cause you any trouble, but just to be safe. I have used it for more than a year without incident.
Hydrolyzed Collagen Powder – Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides Grass-Fed and Pasture Raised, dairy free, gluten free
My complete recipe for my smoothie is:
1 serving Egg White Protein
1 tablespoon Nut Butter
2 cups cashew milk
1 tablespoon MCT Oil
1/2 cup Ice
1 scoot Peptide Protein
I promise it’s delicious!