In “On Hope and Healing” a book devoted to disorders such as ME/CFS and FM, Dr. Nathan states “Of all the ideas presented in this book, food allergy is one of the commonest and often ‘easiest’ to address. It is truly a shame that its importance is not universally recognized.”
Eliminating Allergens – Cutting out the Biggies - The major hidden food allergens include wheat, corn, dairy, soy, peanut, baker’s/brewer’s yeast, sugar). Without doing blood tests – which may or may not be effective it’s hard to know just what foods might be causing symptoms. I asked Dr. Dantini – If you cut out all the biggies (dairy, wheat, corn, soy, baker’s/brewers yeast, peanuts , sugar) are there still foods that would be likely to cause major problems?
In his book he notes that for most people 10-20 foods are causing their symptoms but he said “If you were to totally cut out corn, dairy, soy, wheat, eggs, baker’s/brewers yeast, peanuts – you would get rid of 60–70% of all allergy symptoms?”
No Easy Road. One clue as to possible food allergies is foods that you crave. Unfortunately we tend to crave the foods that we are allergic to. Dr. Nathan writes that ?we regularly observe, to our patients frustration, that the most likely allergic foods are the ones they identify as their favorites.? The good news is the craving disappears after you stay away from the food for awhile and some people lose substantial amounts of weight after they rid themselves of foods they crave and obsessively eat (and that cause inflammation in the body).
A basic plan involves removing a suspected food for four days and then eating a large quantity of it. If it provokes a reaction – eliminate it completely for six months and then try it again. About 60% of the time the process works and you can then eat that food twice a week.?
Elimination Diet – an elimination diet involves removing suspect foods and then re-introducing them later and observing the response. In ‘The Food Intolerance Bible’ by Haynes and Savill labels these five foods the most likely to trigger symptoms; dairy products (cows milk), gluten grains (wheat, oats, rye, barley), soy, sugar, yeast. It’s important to note that any food that you eat regularly – even ordinarily healthy foods – can provoke symptoms.
They recommend removing any suspect foods for a minimum of two weeks and a maximum of four. Make a list of those foods in ascending order and then starting at Day 1 introduce one every four days – eating it only once. For the next four days see if any symptoms flare up. If they do they recommend avoiding it for two months and then trying again.
Note that other foods you are eating that you have not eliminated may be causing symptoms as well.
Rotation Diet - A rotation diet involves rotating your foods/food groups so that you only eat the same food once every three or four days. I asked Dr. Dantini “What about a rotation diet? Do you recommend that for your patients?”
Dr. Dantini said “That’s a key thing for almost anybody who wants to be healthy. We put everyone on a rotation diet and tell them if they want to stay well they have to rotate their diet. They don’t have to rotate every four days but at least every two or three days.
- Check out a 4-day rotation diet plan here
- Video of Dr. Dantini in Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Food Allergies
- Dr. Dantini’s website
Haynes and Sahill target some forty plus foods to which people are most likely to react and suggest that if you are eating large amounts of any of them to eliminate them and see what happens. (the recipes in their book contain none of these foods) They include
- Grains – corn, durum wheat, malt, oats, gluten grains,barley
- Nightshade family (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant)
- Nuts – brazil nuts, cashews, cola nuts
- Cruciferous vegetables – broccoli, cauliflower
- Citrus fruits (all)
- Cows and sheeps milk products – milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, butter, etc.
- Beans – broad beans, kidney beans, lentils, peas, soy, peanuts
- Sugar , honey
- Vinegar, yeast, tea, coffee, chocolate, food additives, preservatives, artificial colors ,MSG, tobacco
I asked Dr Dantini if people should they stay on a rotation diet even after they become healthy?
“Yes, if you have predisposition to develop food allergies you?ll become allergic to something that you eat every day.”
Personal Experience – My night sweats and pretty significant knee pain disappeared after I stopped eating wheat. Another mysterious pain disappeared after I went off of corn. My gut problems got better when I went off of dairy and rice. My energy noticeably picked up recently after I dropped the nightly nut milk, nut butter and fruit smoothies that I craved. These were all small but noticeable improvements. Once I got over the hump a grain and dairy free diet was no problem at all.
Stress, infection and food allergies – Chronic illnesses are, by their nature, complicated. Disorders that effect the immune system may be doubly so. In his book “On Hope and Healing” Dr. Neil Nathan describes how a person with rheumatoid arthritis significantly improved by using a variety of techniques. She used journaling to fight stress, she fought a bacterial infection in her gut with other means, and then reported an ‘astounding improvement’ by meticulously avoiding foods she was allergic to. She was able thereafter to use her journaling to reduce stressors to limit her flare-ups.
Reasons for Food Intolerances – The “Food Intolerance Bible” by Haynes and Savill lists seven reason for food intolerances: eating the same foods again and again (low variety diet), poor digestion, leaky gut, unfriendly microbes, low intestinal immunity, pharmaceutical drug use and stress.
- Varying your diet
- chewing food thoroughly to break it down so the digestive can more easily handle it.
- Taking hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes to help break down foods more
- Take probiotics
- Do a stool analysis to check for gut parasites
- Do a breath test to see if you harbor a bacterium called helicobactor pyloria
- Reduce stress levels
- Reduce NSAID intake if possible
- Stay away from alcohol, sugar, gluten containing foods (wheat, oats, rye, barley) (if you have gluten intolerance), juices, soda pop, most fruits, refined carbohydrates (white flour, white rice).
- If you have Leaky Gut – try l-glutamine, N-acetyl-glucosamine (NAG), fiber, butyric acid, lactobacillus bacteria, saccharomyces boulardii, fish oil, blackcurrant seed, borage or Evening primrose oil gamma oryzanol, slippery elm, quercetin and rutin, aloe verga, DG-licorice, MSM, ginger root, phosphatidyl choline for leaky gut
Adaptogens to Reduce Delayed Food Allergies/Sensitivities?
Several of the formulations below contain Chinese herbs. After some positive study results the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine began funding several Centers of Excellence http://nccam.nih.gov/news/2005/101405.htm to explore the efficacy of using these herbs. Dr. Chia, of course, has replaced interferon with a Chinese Herbal preparation.
FAHF – According to Casey Adams (Ph.D), the author of ‘Natural Solutions for Food Allergies and Foot Intolerances’, herbs called adaptogens can be used in reducing immune hypersensitivities. He reports that the Mount Sinai School of Medicine has been testing a ‘Food Allergy Herbal Formula’ (FAHF) composed of ten Chinese medicinal herbs for about 10 years. They include Chinese wild ginger, aconitum, reishi mushroom, umbeoshi plum, Sichaun pepper, gold thread, cork tree, ginger root, cinnamon, angelica and Panax ginseng. The NIH is currently funding a Phase II trial on the formula?s effectiveness http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00602160 (under recruitment now). The study participants are taking 10 tablets three times daily for six months.
Anti-Asthmatic Herbal Medicine Intervention Formula (ASHMI) contains Chinese herbs (Ganoderma lucidum, Sophora flavescens, Glycyrrhiza uralensis) and has undergone Phase I safety testing in the US and a phase II trial is underway in asthma. In one study it increased cortisol levels (usually low in CFS) and IFN-gamma levels ? suggested that it boosted both HPA axis and immune system functioning. In another study it had a beneficial effect on both Th1 and Th2 cytokines.
STA-1 – is an adaptogenic anti-asthmatic herbal formula that may be helpful for people with food intolerances that cause lung symptoms.
Triphala – Triphala or the ‘three fruits’ is a blend of three Aruyvedic herbs (haritake, bihitaki and amalaki) that are believed to rejuvenate the intestines and regulate digestion. Adams reports they are the most commonly prescribed Aruvyedic medicine for digestive issues and that a 2003 study found that the formula significantly reduced gut permeability in laboratory rats. Triphala mixes can be readily found in health food stores.
Fermented Foods – Adams states that, besides assisting with gut flora, in some cases eating fermented foods can create enzymes that break down proteins that cause hypersensitivity reactions; eating fermented dairy products could, for instance, help with milk intolerance. Fermented foods include yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, kimchi, miso, shoyu, tempeh, sauerkraut, kombucha, lassi.
Anti-inflammatory spices include ? ginger, cayenne, turmeric, basil, rosemary, oregano, reishi mushrooms, garlic, onions
Resources (some of these quite cheap)
- Food Intolerance Bible
- Natural Solutions for Food Allergies and Intolerances
- The Rotation Diet Cookbook
- Overcoming Allergies – Home Remedies, Rotation and Elimination Diets
- How to live with Food Allergies