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!

  1. I see you have some citric fruits and avocados listed…you do ok with them?
    I am very sensible to nickel too..not much out there so happy to find your blog!

    1. Hi Siany,
      Thanks for your kind words. I am happy you found my blog and it’s been useful for you. Yes, I don’t have any issues eating citrus or avocados.
      Warm regards,

  2. I also have a nickel allergy & get swollen eyes and red eyeballs if I have eaten food containing higher levels of nickel especially chocolate, hazelnuts, high juice fruit drinks & tinned tuna. I had to work it out for myself what was causing my eyes to swell & redden. It was only when I thought about nickel in food that I started to cut out these foods & my eyes cleared up in a day or two. Nutella! A food to avoid with a nickel allergy.

    1. Hi June,
      I am happy to hear you discovered your own nickel allergy and that it was what was causing your swollen itchy eyes. That’s amazing when you eliminated foods higher in nickel in your diet, your symptoms cleared in 2 days! I do avoid chocolate, which includes nutella!
      Warm regards,

  3. Hello Christy, My name is Shannon and I have never been diagnosed but i know that i am allergic to nickel because for yrs. I have worn fake or nickel plated jewelry and always broke out with a rash around my neck, with broken blisters that oozed and now my allergy has gotten worse. Any time i eat chocolate or shellfish I breakout with a rash all over. Now when I was little I ate too much chocolate one time and had broke out in hives all over. Shouldn’t that have given my parents an indication that I had an allergy

    1. Hi Shannon,
      Thanks for your comment. I know what you mean in that whenever you wear/wore cheap jewelry you knew the nickel content was causing your rash. When the systemic nickel allergy, I think it’s more challenging to diagnose and identify exactly what’s the culprit, because it can take our bodies time to react and isn’t always instant, like with a contact allergy. I didn’t know anything about systemic or nickel food allergies until I was diagnosed and I hear from many others who shared that same experience. Now you know, which hopefully is a relief.
      Warm regards,

  4. In my mid 20’s I had an allergy test done at dermatologist’s office. I had a 2+ reaction. The dr had her staff come in so they would recognize it if they had to read a patch test. Course the ONLY patch to react was the nickel. My reaction isn’t just a skin reaction anymore, now I get digestive issues with food high in nickel. I ate a bunch of raspberries and boy did I ever pay for it. (Didnt know they were high in nickel)

    1. Lauren,
      Thanks for your comment. I totally understand, my skin patch test also tested positive for nickel and learning about the low nickel diet shocked me. I had to radically change my eating habits and I also had no idea so many foods I ate all the time were higher in nickel.
      Warm regards,

  5. Hi Christy
    Great to find this site. I have acute nickel allergy a severe break out 3 mths ago whilst counting coin on my lap not realising.
    Since then I have now been diagnosed with Pemphigus Vulgaris (persistent mouth ulcers) Although being told otherwise I can’t help but think there is a connection as I drank out of a metal bottle just prior to getting mouth ulcers. I am wondering if any of your readers may have had a similar experience.

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