Avoiding Nickel Toxicity with Fiber

Today I read the symptoms of nickel poisoning can include “headache, nausea, vomiting, vertigo coughing, respiratory problems, interference with enzymes in the Krebs cycle, skin rashes and chest pain.” (Kirschmann, 2007, Nutrition Almanac, pg. 74).

In regards to absorption, the Kirschmann writes “average [nickel] intake is 60-162 micrograms per day depending on the diet, since plant foods are relatively high in nickel and animal foods low. Nickel is absorbed in the small intestine. Unabsorbed nickel is mostly eliminated in the feces. Absorbed nickel is rapidly and efficiently excreted via the kidneys and does not accumulate in the body.” (Nutrition Almanac, pg. 74).

My take away from this paragraph is that to avoid nickel toxicity, I need to ensure I drink enough water and that I have get enough fiber in my diet to stay regular. One of the challenges with eating a low nickel diet is that many foods high in fiber are also very high in nickel like bran, leafy greens, beans, raspberries, oats, lentils, nuts, peas, soy and seeds. Since I am super sensitive to nickel, ensuring I eat enough fiber is furthermore essential to keeping my digestive system working properly.

There are two different types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. It’s important to eat a variety of foods that both have soluble and insoluble fiber. My understanding is that insoluble sources of fiber help with digestion. I’ve tried to develop a comprehensive list of foods that are both higher in fiber and aren’t high in nickel.

Soluble sources of fiber in foods that aren’t high in nickel include:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Asparagus
  • Eggplant
  • Potatoes
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Avocado
  • Passion fruit
  • Banana
  • Oranges
  • Nectarines
  • Mango
  • Peaches (with skin)
  • Pears (with skin)
  • Apples (with skin)
  • Plums (with skin)
  • Apricots (with skin)

Insoluble sources of fiber in foods that aren’t high in nickel include:

  • Turnips
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Potatoes
  • Beets
  • Bell peppers
  • Corn
  • Popcorn
  • Zucchini
  • Grapes
  • Strawberries
  • Blackberries
  • Boysenberries
  • Pears (with skin)
  • Apples (with skin)
  • Plums (with skin)
  • Apricots (with skin)

When I was first diagnosed with my nickel allergy, I discovered that many of the foods I ate regularly (because I was told they were healthy) are high in nickel. Too much of anything turns out, isn’t a good thing. Kirschmann writes “excess fiber causes vitamins and minerals to be bound and excreted before the body can use them” (2007, p. 14). As in everything, balance is crucial.

While eating the low nickel diet, I’m going to try to incorporate more foods higher in both soluble and insoluble fiber while also drinking plenty of water!