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The Importance of Dealing with Food Sensitivities

People come to our clinic with a wide variety of concerns, ranging from relatively simple acute conditions to very complicated chronic conditions. Often, these folks have already tried many contemporary Western and “alternative” treatments.

One of the first things we often do is simplify each patient’s supplement regime. Patients have come to the clinic carrying a bag full of supplements suggested by various well-meaning clerks and practitioners will “cure” their ailments. As a result, rarely are patients taking therapeutic doses of any of these items, they are taking contradictory nutrients that counteract the intended effects of other substances, or they are taking supplements that contain hormones or hormone precursors that are actually causing some of their concerns.

After determining what pharmaceutical drugs each patient is on for each of their conditions, we will often eliminate all of the supplements that do not specifically relate to the presenting concerns. By removing the non-essential nutrients, many symptoms simply resolve, revealing the underlying condition.

Often, simplifying and instituting healthy eating, drinking, and exercise habits, sets the patient on the road to vibrant health. However, for those with more long-standing, chronic conditions these steps are often not enough.

Chronic-fatigue, rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, allergies, and fibromyalgia are all different conditions that have some similarities. There are genetic, environmental, stress, and dietary factors in each of these conditions. One commonality they share is inflammatory processes that often benefit from removing sources of inflammation.

We can greatly control dietary factors causing inflammation, which is the focus of this article.

One major interface between our environment and our inner workings is our intestinal tract. It determines what nutrients should be allowed into our inner realm and what should be excluded. A properly functioning intestinal tract selectively permits entry of useful and properly digested nutrients, while sending all else merrily on its way. A major part of this selection process involves a properly functioning gut associated lymphatic system (GALT), which is one of the largest parts of the immune system. GALT acts as the “sentry” of our inner world: it identifies substances that should not be allowed entry.

If the intestinal tract is unhealthy in some way, substances that should not pass through the cells into the blood stream do so anyway. The local “sentries” of the GALT identify them and attack them, creating inflammation. The inflammation can be at the local site in the intestine, or system-wide as the immune system attacks all proteins that resemble the “invader,” including native tissues! This inflammation is responsible for the symptoms experienced in many of the above-mentioned conditions. As anyone with rheumatoid arthritis knows, the joint destruction that occurs as a result of this mal-function of the immune system can be debilitating.

Since so many conditions have their origin in the intestinal tract, it follows that optimizing intestinal health should correct the symptoms experienced in a wide array of conditions. The standard American diet (SAD) has become one of the unhealthiest diets on the planet. Our food choices have been narrowed to such a degree that millions of people suffer from symptoms associated with poor immune function and obesity-related diseases. Among the top ten identified food allergens are foods eaten most often: wheat, corn, dairy, soy, peanut, and tomato. The next time you purchase any packaged food, read the label and note how many of these foods are included.

There is a common misconception that doing a skin scratch test will uncover food sensitivities. When the immune system “sees” a food that it labels as “foreign,” it forms an immunoglobulin (Ig) so it can recognize that food the next time it is “seen.” A healthy person does not have immunolglobulins in their blood formed against foods. Scratch testing very accurately identifies food allergies, which are hypersensitivity reactions causing immediate life-threatening allergic reactions that are mediated by a specific part of the immune system (IgE). Food sensitivities are delayed reactions that can occur within minutes to 72 hours of ingestion. This type of reaction is mediated by a different part of the immune system (IgG), and is by far the most common reaction experienced. The delayed type of food reactions can be uncovered with a blood test that identifies immunoglobulins associated with specific foods.

Clinically, we have seen incredible results by simply removing problematic foods from the diet. One patient suffered from chronic sinusitis with debilitating headaches for 40 years! He had tried pharmaceuticals, acupuncture, herbs, homeopathy, and every home remedy ever suggested with little result. He came to us utterly frustrated. We suggested he do a food sensitivity test, and since carefully avoiding all of the identified foods, he has had NO headaches. At the time of this writing, he is only one month into his “diet” and is very excited about how he will feel in the coming months.

Another patient came to us with multiple chemical sensitivities, very poor digestion, weight loss, and chronic fatigue. After three months on her individualized diet, her digestion is finally normalizing, she is able to go down the detergent isle in grocery stores without symptoms, has started an exercise regime, and finally feels she is beginning to get her life back.

The test we recommend is through Immuno Labs. This laboratory specializes in allergy testing. Their basic food panel tests 110 different foods. They provide tables that identify what family the tested foods are members of, so if necessary the entire family of foods can also be eliminated. The lab creates a customized food plan with a rotation diet focusing on what foods are “safe” for you to eat, based on your immunologic testing. This lab test is available through your doctor.

We are constantly amazed by the natural inclination of the human body to heal itself, given the proper conditions. After eliminating the dietary factors of disease, it is essential to maintain healthy eating habits, regular exercise, practice daily stress management techniques, laugh, love, and live!