Cashew nuts are not new to the American diet, but cashew apple is.
Cashew trees native to Brazil and the West Indies also grow in Central America, Asia and Africa. People in these countries have long eaten not only the cashew nut, but the apple itself.
The cashew apple has a fibrous juicy pulp which can be eaten directly or squeezed to make cashew apple juice – a rich source of vitamin C and antioxidants.
This juice is starting to appear in American health food stores. Despite its healthy nature, it can be a source of allergic difficulties.
As it turns out, the cashew tree is a member of the Anacardiaceae Family, which includes poison ivy and oak, poison sumac, mango, lacquer tree, Indian marking tree and rengas tree.
The common allergen found in all these plants is urushiol and hence, there can be cross- reactivity with all the plants.
In the case of the cashew, the apple has a higher concentration of urushiol than the nut. Hence, it has greater likelihood to lead to allergic problems. These can occur via contact with the skin, resulting in the typical poison ivy-type rash of itchy bumps and blisters. Ingestion can cause irritation of the lips, tongue, mouth and GI tract.
Of special interest is that ingestion of cashew nut or cashew apple can lead to reappearance a previously healed case of poison ivy/oak. It seems the area of the skin that broke out from contact with urushiol has immunologic memory that can cause the same area to redevelop the rash from ingestion of urushiol.
Dear Dr. K: I’ve read several articles by you about the immune health benefits of probiotics. In a recent Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article I read that gut flora could lead to colon cancer. Can you tell me more?
Yes I can. You are actually touching on a subject of cutting-edge research. There have been three recent publishings (probably the fodder for the WSJ piece) on this subject: New England Journal of Medicine, Genome Research and Cell Host Microbe.
The bacterial species that seems to be the culprit is Fusobacterium nucleatum. This unwelcome gut bacteria is not considered part of the normal flora. It seems to create its mischief by producing a unique protein called FadA, which is a sticky protein called an adhesion antigen. This molecule “sticks” to colon cells and causes both inflammation and eventually cancerous changes in the cells.
Studies done in mice models demonstrate that blocking adherence of this protein, even without removing the Fusobacterium, protects the mouse colon from inflammation and cancer. Thus, human research is looking at ways to accomplish the same thing in people, and also ways to eradicate the bacteria.
This research shouldn’t come as too big a surprise in view of the discovery about 15 years ago that another bad gut bacteria called helicobacter pylori is the cause for most stomach ulcers (inflammation) and stomach cancer.
My paternal grandparents had no indoor plumbing. When I visited them as a child I was put in charge of bringing in water for coffee and breakfast oatmeal. I would run to the well and pump hard — with no result.
Then I’d remember the priming glass of water kept inside. Pouring it in the pump first always led to bountiful water.
The dramatic aspect of priming happens with many vaccines, which is one reason many are given as a series. Examples are DPT and polio. Priming also can occur with the flu vaccine, even though each year’s vaccine is different.
The reason I bring this up is because in the past few years many people — who previously received annual flu shots — have chosen not to.
What the media fail to report is that it is precisely that older population who have received flu shots over many years, who have the best chance of getting better “bang for the buck” via priming from all their previous vaccines.
And the strategy the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is now considering is to give two identical flu vaccines in the same season, with the first one being the priming dose for the second.
• Harvard researchers studied the tolerance of baked milk in highly allergic children with cow milk allergy. Fourteen of the fifteen children tolerated milk if it was baked in a product such as a muffin, cake or bread.