Favism, foods to avoid

Favism, foods to avoid

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Although the diagnosis of favism in some people it rather generates despair, because one immediately thinks of a life of deprivation and difficulties, in reality ... there is nothing to worry about! Not only is this condition quite common, but people with favism can live a normal life, as long as avoid certain foods and certain chemicals.

The risk you run when you ingest them prohibited foods and substances it is in fact that we end up in a condition of haemolysis, with "rupture" of red blood cells. But let's go in order.

How to recognize the signs of favism

To ascertain one condition of favism a simple blood test is sufficient. But sometimes you realize you are good through the symptoms of hemolysis, when you are still a child.

The signs parents should look for are:

  • pale skin caused by anemia (low number of red blood cells);
  • yellowish skin, eyes and tongue, or jaundice, caused by breaking down red blood cells;
  • dark yellow urine;
  • fatigue, fast heart rate and difficulty breathing, caused by the body not getting enough oxygen;
  • fever, high temperature.

The causes of favism

It is important to remember that people are born with this condition, which it is then genetics, or inherited from their parents.

However, it is equally important to point out that not all people are affected by this condition in the same way, since there are many variants (types) of the genetic problem, so much so that some people are affected to a mild degree, with sporadic effects.

We also remember that, statistically, some racial groups have a higher incidence than others, such as some African populations (where up to 20% of the population is affected by this type of disease), and some groups from South East Asia and Papua New Guinea (with peaks of 25%).

Foods and substances to avoid

When we talk about favism, we tend to think that it is enough to eliminate from your diet broad beans, beans and some other legumes in order to avoid any kind of problem.

In reality, not all legumes cause a decrease in G6PD values, and are therefore eliminated from the diet only for safety. On the other hand, there are also other foods that should be eaten, as they contain some ingredients that could be harmful to health.

In particular, the sulphites, which are naturally present in many wines, especially whites, and as preservatives in dried and dried fruit. It is enough to consult the labels of the products you are purchasing to be sure.

Another ingredient that you should avoid is the menthol, often present in candies, ice creams, sweets, toothpastes, mouthwashes and other products, often for the "taste" that can be obtained from its introduction. Also in this case, it is always worth reading the label carefully to be able to make sure that there is not this component in your menu.

Furthermore, it is always advisable to avoid artificial colors that characterize blue products, generally used for cakes and ice cream. On the other hand, no problem seems to exist for natural dyes that dye food products blue, generally based on beetroot.

Among the other elements that should be excluded from one's diet there is also theartificial ascorbic acid which is commonly present in many vitamin supplements, as well as quinine: this is the reason why - for some people, in a rather "curious" way - favici are required to avoid taking tonic water.

Drugs to avoid in case of favism

In addition to food, those suffering from favism should also avoid certain medications and chemicals. This is the case with:

  • aspirin and salicides;
  • sulfonamides;
  • quinine;
  • methionine chloride / methylene blue;
  • medicines for glaucoma.

Other substances to avoid are:

  • naphthalene;
  • black or red henna;
  • verbena hybrida.

Favism is an allergy

Before saying goodbye with this in-depth analysis today, we want to clarify that favism is not a food allergy. It is a hereditary genetic defect affecting the previously mentioned G6PD enzyme, essential for the correct development and maintenance of red blood cells.

In the hypothesis in which a person is affected by favism, there is a deficiency of this enzyme from birth and, when some of the aforementioned foods are ingested, the activity of the enzyme undergoes further drops.

In short, it is not an allergy, but the ingestion of some foods such as beans and legumes could act as a trigger, with a negative impact on an enzymatic deficiency already present at the genetic level.


Favism is a very common condition, generally discovered as children, during weaning. 12-48 hours after taking the foods to avoid (but especially fresh broad beans), the child shows the first symptoms such as paleness and jaundice of the skin and mucous membranes, accompanied by dark yellow urine.

Although in most phases favism is not able to determine dangerous consequences for survival, in some cases it is possible that the typical signs of a cardiovascular collapse are manifested, therefore making it necessary to consult your doctor urgently.

At that point we will proceed with a simple blood test which, by measuring the G6PD values, will ascertain or not the presence of favism.

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