Firstly we need to know what tapioca actually is; it is starch extracted from the root of plant species Manihot esculenta. This species is native to many South American and West Indian countries such as Brazil, Colombia and Cuba. The name tapioca comes from the word tipioka, which is the name for this starch in Tupi. Tupi refers to the process in which this type of starch is made edible.
Tapioca is a stable food in many different regions all over the world and it used as a thickening agent across the globe, especially in foods. Tapioca is gluten-free and also near enough protein free meaning it can be consumed within a gluten free diet. In the United Kingdom tapioca is often known as a milk pudding which is thickened with arrowroot.
Tapioca itself is not very allergenic in nature but as it is present in many food sources including a lot of dairy products it can be mistaken for a tapioca allergy. Allergies can be to anything and every individual is unique and therefore testing to see if it is tapioca you are allergic to you can try the following:
- Get some minute tapioca pearls.
- Make it with water (and sugar if you want).
- Test the food and see if allergic reaction occurs.
With this simple method you can easily find out if you do have a tapioca allergy. Tapioca allergies are usually found in children as tapioca is used in some baby foods and dessert products for children. Another way to test for a tapioca allergy is to use tapioca flour (available in most leading supermarkets) and make some cookies. Again consuming and waiting if any adverse reactions occur.
The symptoms of an allergic reaction to tapioca can include the following: diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pains, headache, dizziness, dilated pupils, spasms, sweating and chills.
If you are indeed allergic to tapioca or have evidence to suggest you are it is best to seek medical advice from your doctor or local health team. It is indeed not very common to be allergic to tapioca so it is best to try and rule out any contamination or the possibility of an allergic reaction to another substance in the product. It is also advised to stop consuming any products containing tapioca in case of any serious adverse reactions which can lead to complications. If you do inadvertently come into contact or consume tapioca and you are allergic it is best to take some Benadryl which is available at your local pharmacy.
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