How to Use An Allergy Elimination Diet To Discover Hidden Food Sensitivities

By: Dr. Michael Lam, MD, MPH; Dr. Justin Lam, ABAAHP, FMNM



Can an allergy elimination diet help you?Could chronic health conditions like adrenal fatigue be treated with food? It’s possible, considering the old adage of ‘we are what we eat’. What we consume can either benefit and fuel our body or help in its demise. Many people try to avoid the obvious junk food, but countless individuals aren’t even aware of allergies they may have to foods. By using what’s called an allergy elimination diet, not only can the user become more aware of food sensitivities, but the body can begin to heal from the damage said food has caused.

Allergy Elimination Diet

The allergy elimination diet is basically just as it sounds; types of food that are the typical culprits for causing problems are temporarily taken out of the diet and then steadily reintroduced. The problem food is then pinpointed if the person shows signs of intolerance, sensitivity, or allergic reactions during the reintroduction phase of the allergy elimination diet.

Some of the basic signs that your body could benefit from an allergy elimination diet are evident from things like migraines, brain fog, bloating, runny nose, flu-like symptoms, inflammation, irritable bowel syndrome, and stomachache.

The reason why an allergy elimination diet is so beneficial is because foods affect us all differently. One person could benefit from a food that causes debilitating stomach problems for another, and the only way to zero in on that unique reaction is through the process of this exact diet. The different levels of food reactions include sensitivities, intolerances, and allergies.

Types of Reactions to Foods

Sensitivity to food is the least serious of the three and may not be evident until well after the food is consumed. In some cases, people can still eat a little of the food in question without incurring any problems.

Intolerance to food occurs when the body lacks the ability to digest particular foods, which aggravates the digestive system. This can stem from deficiencies of certain enzymes.

Food allergies are very serious, as they can lead to death in some cases. Food allergies spark the immune system and can cause serious responses like hives, rashes, itching, and breathing issues.

Determining Possible Factors

So how do you know which foods to cut out in an allergy elimination diet? A diet designed to eliminate allergies typically begins with the foods that most people have trouble with. Gluten is among the most common problem foods.

Gluten

Gluten is not part of an allergy elimination dietThe type of protein that is sourced from wheat, barley, and rye is called gluten and it is responsible for many food sensitivities and intolerances. In fact, there is an entire spectrum of autoimmune reactions. The most serious of these is celiac disease. While tests can be done to determine a gluten allergy, it may not always show the whole picture. An allergy elimination diet would be a valuable alternative to determine and document the evidence of a problem.

It is important to note that for those who suffer from adrenal fatigue, adding wheat products to the diet could potentially lead to an excessive burden for an already weak body to handle. It can actually prolong recovery or in some advanced cases, elicit adrenal crashes.

Grains without gluten

It is becoming more commonplace that people are opting for gluten-free foods for their health – independent of an allergy elimination diet – but some people still show reactions from grains without gluten, such as rice, corn, and buckwheat. While it could just be a simple case of food sensitivity, it may actually be because the gluten-free grains are so chemically similar to their gluten counterparts that the body actually believes and reacts as if they are.

Legumes

Legumes cover the entire bean family: fava, garbanzo, black, kidney, edamame, peanuts, lentils, and soy products (miso and tofu). Legumes are great for health, but due to their proteins and lectins they can be tricky to digest. They can also cause gas as well as strain on both your immune and gastrointestinal systems. Of all the legumes, peanuts and soy typically cause the most issues. This is initiated by aflatoxin and phytoestrogen, respectively.

For people with adrenal fatigue that are also vegetarian, legumes should be eaten with whole grains, nuts, or seeds to supply a complete protein.

Dairy

Dairy protein is called casein, and it is another usual contributor to food reactions that can be discovered using an allergy elimination diet. The number of cows that live in unhealthful environments is unsettling and instead of grass, they are fed corn. During milk homogenization and pasteurization, the fat is taken out. The milk they produce contains few nutrients, so man-made vitamins are then inserted.

Good alternatives are yogurt and kefir that is grass-fed, as they are generally tolerated better since they are fermented. These substitutions provide good bacteria for the gut and body.

Eggs

Eggs provide a plethora of nutrients, but it can provide problems for some. The egg yolk is the most nutrient dense and typically causes less problems than the egg white. Albumin is the protein that makes up the white, and it could potentially cause inflammation of the gut by means of a syndrome called leaky gut. With leaky gut syndrome, the albumin can pass through the lining of the intestine.

Some people have to avoid eggs altogether, but different parts of the egg can be tested using the allergy elimination diet. Quality protein, like that in eggs, is recommended for adrenal fatigue as it provides a steady energy source in between meals.

Nightshades

Nightshades are not part of an allergy elimination dietFoods like peppers, potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes, goji berries, and some spice variations can cause inflammation due to alkaloids.

Seeds and Nuts

Nuts contain phytates, protein lectins, and provide roughage. These factors can cause agitation to certain people. The nuts that are purchased at the grocery store can be smothered in canola or soybean oil, which produce inflammation in the body. These rancid oils can worsen symptoms of adrenal fatigue and should be avoided under any circumstances.

For those who suffer from nut sensitives, removing them via the allergy elimination diet and reintroducing raw and slightly-toasted nuts in moderation could be better tolerated. Seeds and nuts are crucial sources of fatty acids that help the adrenal glands produce cholesterol, which is a precursor to all adrenal steroid hormones. Generous amounts of raw nuts that are soaked in water overnight are recommended for adrenal fatigue, such as almonds, cashews, pecans, Brazils, chestnuts, and walnuts.

FODMAPS

This acronym represents sugars that are only slightly digested and can be heavily fermented by the gut. Hydrogen gas is a byproduct of fermentation in the gut. This reaction can cause symptoms of diarrhea, bloating, constipation, gas, and pain. These IBS indicators can be categorized as an intolerance to FODMAPs due to overgrowth of the bacteria in the gut.

One of the best ways to see if this type of fermentable sugar triggers food sensitivities is through a diet that eliminates allergies.

If any of these previous symptoms are seen, the following foods should be highly restricted or eliminated until the gut heals:

Type of Food Highly Restricted
Dairy soft cheese, ice cream, yogurt, milk, custard, and cream
Grains cereal, pasta, breads with wheat, crackers, and rye
Fruits nectarines, plums, peaches, watermelons, apples, and mangos
Vegetables garlic, legumes, onions, asparagus, artichokes, sweet corn, savoy cabbage, pulses, celery, and sugar snap peas
Nuts pistachios and cashews

Fructose is also a commonplace FODMAP intolerance, which can lead to bloating and stomach pain.

Because FODMAP foods are typically healthy, the objective is to temporarily remove them with the allergy elimination diet until the gut is able to heal.

Dysregulation of Systems

The NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) stress response system helps our bodies fight stress and ensures homeostasis. It consists of the neuroendocrine and metabolic entities. The neuroendocrine system includes the brain, heart, adrenals, thyroid, autonomic nervous system, and the gastrointestinal tract. The metabolic contributors are the liver, pancreas, immune system, extracellular matrix, and microorganisms.

A key part of the NEM response is the metabolic system. Metabolism works by using the food we consume to produce energy to then be used as fuel for our everyday functions. This system also covers our ability to detoxify and regulate inflammation.

An allergy elimination diet helps reduce inflammationWhen our NEM response system is functioning properly, oxidative damage to our body is mitigated. Our brain will have a steady flow of energy to keep the rest of the body firing on all cylinders. Our NEM system is a cascading response of signals that works together with all the body’s organs and systems to keep it running as it was designed and to thwart undue stress. There are six main ways in which the NEM responds; three are grouped in the metabolic function. They include inflammation, metabolism, and detoxification. The other three responses are known as cardionomic, neuro-affect, and hormonal.

If a certain food causes intolerances or sensitivities, the internal microbiome becomes imbalanced and creates a weak metabolic system. Results of a weak metabolic system include a reduction in body detoxification and nutrient delivery, overloaded extracellular matrix, and limited recovery reactions to injuries.

All reactions that occur within the NEM system are dependent on the food we consume. This NEM system is key to survival as it allows our body to stay focused even when we are stressed, fights infection, promotes sleep even when stress level is high, and more. In short, the NEM stress response system is paramount to our survival, especially in the modern world where stress can occur daily.

The gut is regularly called the second brain because many of the body’s neurotransmitters are produced in the GI tract. Disruption to the metabolic system goes seemingly unnoticed in the medical field, especially when sensitivity to food and inflammation are at play.

An imbalance of gut flora and inflammation are highly correlated. When there is inflammation present in the gut, the permeability increases. This triggers leakage of both sugar and toxins that cause more inflammation and damage to the body. Failure to suppress and manage inflammation can severely affect the immune system and increase food sensitivities.

Since the dysregulation of the NEM system causes a cascade of progressively worsening reactions, understanding how the body is affected by excessive stress and specific food is key to adrenal fatigue.

Some of the stressors that can lead to adrenal fatigue include gluten intolerance, excessive sugar in diet, low blood sugar, maldigestion, malabsorption, and toxic exposure (such as through leakage of the gut). The aforementioned foods that are known to be common causes of food sensitivities cause imbalanced gut flora, leaky gut or gut permeability, disruption to digestion/absorption activities, as well as immune and gastrointestinal injuries. These injuries to the body trigger the NEM system to begin its progressive response to try to mitigate the inflammation that has occurred from said injury.

Cortisol – which is one of the chief anti-stress hormones that protects the body from excessive adrenal fatigue – functions as a potent anti-inflammatory agent. Cortisol ramps up to fight inflammation until adrenal glands are completely exhausted from the ever-increasing demand, as is seen in adrenal exhaustion.

An allergy elimination diet is good for youAn unfit and poor diet is actually one of the most important and leading causes of adrenal fatigue. People suffering from this usually have a dysfunctional food assimilation pattern with delayed absorption. By employing the allergy elimination diet technique, we can zero in on what foods are causing negative reactions in our bodies and give our gut a chance to heal.

When the gut has a chance to heal with a diet that eliminates allergies, gut flora can become rebalanced, both immune and gastrointestinal injuries can repair themselves, toxins will no longer leak into bloodstream, and absorption and digestion problems should resolve. With the aid of an allergy elimination diet, we can assist the metabolic system in detoxification and decreasing inflammation.

Conclusions

A diet that eliminates allergies rids all of the excessive stressors previously mentioned on an already overburdened body, which is crucial to adrenal fatigue. By figuring out what food is causing sensitivities by means of an allergy elimination diet we can prevent potential adrenal crashes and assist in the healing of the adrenals. Total recovery is only possible when a diet accommodates a person’s food sensitivities, intolerances, allergies, and is metabolically and biochemically compatible with the needs of a damaged adrenal gland.

 
© Copyright 2017 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.


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