Tapioca is a starch that came out as a product of processed cassava root or Manihot Esculenta. The cassava plant is indigenous to the northeast region of Brazil, but its use has gained some popularity around South America. Explorers from Spain and Portugal introduced it across the countries of Asia and Africa.
Tropical countries have made tapioca their staple food. People by the millions consume it on a daily basis. Tapioca is considered an empty-calorie food, since it is pure carbohydrates. It contains no significant vitamins, essential minerals, and protein.
The food industry is the one that has benefited the most from using tapioca. Food manufacturers in many countries have used tapioca as a thickening agent. Tapioca pearls are now a common sight in bubble teas as well as slushes and taho. It is also being used as an alternative or substitute for wheat and other flours. Bakeries have been using it to make flatbreads, puddings and other desserts.
With the increasing need to get rid of plastics because of the harm it creates to the environment, biodegradable bags manufactured from tapioca have become increasingly popular. Since it is biodegradable, it can be composted. It is also recyclable, sustainable and renewable. Starching of garments is also one of the uses of tapioca.
Although tapioca has a lot of uses and benefits, it also has its downside. Some people have developed allergies to tapioca. Tapioca allergy is not common and only a few studies have been conducted. People who have experienced allergies a few minutes after consuming tapioca have shown symptoms such as difficulty in breathing, chills, sweating, skin rashes and itching, abdominal pains, diarrhea, spasms, vomiting, easily irritated, swelling of the face, pupils are dilated, cold and cough, dizziness, and nausea.
People who are allergic to latex may discover that they are also allergic to tapioca due to a reaction called cross-reactivity where the human body reacts to similar proteins found in two different substances.
The cassava root, from which tapioca came from, naturally produces cyanide. Cyanide is a chemical compound that is poisonous to the human body. Early symptoms of cyanide poisoning are fast beating of the heart, and symptoms that are similar to those seen in tapioca allergy. More worrying reactions may follow like seizures, loss of consciousness, low blood pressure and even cardiac arrest. If not treated immediately, it could result in the loss of life.
It is vital that one should seek medical help immediately once allergic reactions are experienced a few minutes after consuming products that contain tapioca. One has to be sure if what they have is tapioca allergy or cyanide poisoning or allergy from another substance. Do not self-medicate because you could do more harm than good to your body. Once the doctor confirms that you do have tapioca allergy, it is best to avoid it altogether.
This material is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease and should not be relied as medical advice. Always consult your doctor before taking any medication or supplements.