Healthy diet could make you sick

If you're trying to stay in shape, eating healthy is key. But doctors are finding more people becoming allergic to healthier foods.

Sara Plumby has made a conscious effort to live a healthier life. She exercises and eats right.

But instead of enjoying the rewards of being fit, Sara found herself in excruciating pain.

She says, "I experienced a burning tongue. My muscles would twitch, I had sleep disruptions and I would wake up in the morning feeling like I wasn't rested."

Turns out, the foods Sara was eating were high in the mineral nickel. Things like oatmeal, beans, and whole grains, which may be contributing to a rash of new allergy cases.

Dr. Matthew Zirwas, with Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center says, "And the reason, we think, is that there's been a shift in dietary habits. As people are trying to eat healthier, they're actually eating more nickel."    

Dr. Zirwas, an allergist says some patients can go for years with itchy, painful rashes often on the outside of their elbow, or on their palms and never know what's causing it, partly because nickel allergies don't appear immediately.

Dr. Zirwas says, "So, if you start eating more nickel, it slowly builds up in your body until your immune system get stimulated enough that you start to break out in this rash."    

Even then, diagnosing a nickel allergy can be tough because it's in so many things, like soy and dark chocolate and can even be released from stainless steel pots and pans when you cook acidic foods like tomatoes.

Sara went to Dr. Zirwas and today is nearly symptom-free, thanks to a nickel-free diet.

She says, "I was shocked because I was eating a healthy diet, but the healthy diet was making me worse."

Doctors say most patients will get better by reducing nickel in their diets. If you have an unexplained rash you can't seem to shake, you should ask your allergist about nickel at your next visit.

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