Food and Other Allergies

Food allergies affect approximately 11 million American adults.  These allergies result in symptoms that are often profound and immediate, such as swollen throat with respiratory emergency, rash, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Food allergies can be the most serious causing chronic illnesses, and life-threatening symptoms. Some well known food allergy culprits are peanuts, milk, wheat, corn, and sugar.

Other allergic reactions that are not as dangerous, but definitely troublesome, are the typical “hay fever” symptoms of runny nose, itchy eyes, and sneezing. These are commonly caused by freshly cut grass, pollens, or other vegetation in the spring or fall.

If you only think of these obvious symptoms when you think about allergic reactions, you’ll be falsely reassured. Allergies are manifestations of an immune system on fire and can present in many different ways, some subtle, some very obvious. The “fuel” that sparks your immune system or keeps it on fire is mostly what you eat, inhale, or otherwise come in contact with on your skin.

When it comes to food allergies, immune hypersensitivity begins with your small intestinal lining, which is an extremely important filter for approximately 98% of what enters your mouth. Just as your skin protects you from the outside world, your intestinal lining must decide what molecules to allow into your blood stream and what molecules to block.

Intestinal cells can be easily worn and weakened, and the gut lining inflamed or damaged. Receptor cells become hyper-reactive and trigger an allergic response via immunoglobulin A (IgA) antibodies and fighter white blood cells. As long as the intestinal lining remains inflamed, the production of antibodies against formerly innocuous foods seems to continue to get worse over time. This phenomenon is referred to as “leaky gut syndrome.” The various factors known to contribute to leaky gut syndrome are listed below:

  • Antibiotics cause overgrowth of resistant bacteria, yeast, and even parasites.
  • Alcohol and caffeine wear down the mucosa causing inflammation.
  • Parasites (giardia, cryptosporidium, blastocystis hominis, or bacteria like H. pylori, klebsiella, citrobacter, and pseudomonas) are known to incite inflammation.
  • Chemicals (dyes, preservatives, and peroxidized fats).
  • Enzyme deficiencies (e.g. celiac disease, lactase deficiency, and low stomach acid).
  • Non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) like Motrin® and corticosteroids.
  • Highly refined carbohydrate foods (candy bars, cookies, cakes, soft drinks, white breads, white rice, etc.) that are devoid of fiber. It is the fiber which ferments to produce the short-chain fatty acids acetate, propionate, and butyrate that aid in healing the intestinal mucosa.
  • Mold and fungalmycotoxins in some stored grains, stored fruit, and refined carbohydrates.
  • Lack of digestive enzymes from the mouth, stomach, and mostly the pancreas.
  • Lack of lactobacilli and minerals derived from fermented foods and whole foods.

These antibodies that are produced stimulate an “allergic response,” commonly known as auto-immune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, thyroiditis and other “incurable” conditions.

Other chronic illnesses like fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, celiac sprue, and even cancer are also thought to be a result of something triggering the immune response. The scientific literature is replete with evidence of this effect in skin disorders such as psoriasis and eczema.

How to detoxify allergens and reverse allergy

Food particles make their way from your small intestine to your liver (to be detoxified) via your large portal vein. Your liver is then forced to “detoxify” what might be harmful before it continues on through your body’s blood stream. If your liver can’t detoxify everything it filters, then these molecules will be stored—usually in fat-soluble tissues of your skin, brain, muscle, other organs, and fat pockets. The obvious fat pockets are the problem fat or “storage fat” areas visible on most aging adults.

From there your immune system can further react and stimulate inflammation in your body. This effect can continue all your life, contributing to chronic illness.

Other causes for an immune system on fire

Are there other causes for an immune system on fire? You bet. However, they are much more difficult to discover without specialized testing of your blood and urine.

I prefer an alternative approach through bio-energy science. It stems from acupuncture, in which your body is known to have subtle bio-“electric” pathways. When there are blockages in these pathways, known as the chi meridians and centers, your body gets out of balance and symptoms of allergy result. By identifying and removing allergic triggers to the immune system on fire I have personally seen many patients experience dramatic symptom reversal with this approach.

The most well known method of identifying and then eliminating allergies via the bio-energetic technique is called NAET (Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Technique). Practitioners skilled in NAET or similar techniques achieve 80% success or better. Go to www.naet.com to learn more and find a NAET practitioner in your area.

Other immune system triggers are:

  • Pollens, perfumes, dust, or other manufactured chemicals
  • Foods, vitamins, drugs, and food additives
  • Bites, stings, injected drugs, and immunizations
  • Viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites
  • Painful memories from the past or present

The extent of the problem

How is immune hypersensitivity a commonly overlooked hidden health problem? Conditions such as asthma, eczema, autoimmune diseases, and other varied allergic conditions, are clearly an immune system on fire. These are the classic outward manifestations of immune hypersensitivity. Yet few practitioners would even consider finding the inciting triggers.

In Multiple Sclerosis, for example, it is the myelin sheath of the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves that are inflamed and degenerating. In Systemic Lupus, several organs including the brain, heart, lungs, kidneys, joints, blood vessels, nerves, and skin are involved. Their symptoms are usually extreme fatigue, arthritis, unexplained fever, rashes, and kidney malfunction. Similarly, in Grave’s Disease (hyperthyroidism) the thyroid gland over-produces the hormone thyroxin for a few years…and often spontaneously resolves without treatment! Though auto-antibodies circulate in the blood stream, these also slowly resolved by addressing the hidden causes discussed here.

For heart disease, hypertension, and stroke, the immune system is involved, causing what we know today as inflammation. This inflammation however is chronic and low grade, such that the vessels of the heart and brain have “scarring” known as atherosclerosis. It is akin to the scarring of arthritis, the scarring of ulcerative colitis, and the chronic scarring inflammation of the lungs in a person with chronically persistent asthma, chronic bronchitis, or emphysema. Clearly, the serum markers for immune globulins and inflammation are elevated in these patients, yet modern medicine calls most all of these “idiopathic” conditions in which there is no real known cause.

For intestinal diseases, markers of inflammation in the blood correlate with healing of the intestinal lining. In a study where pectin (dietary fiber) feeding was the treatment, tumor necrosis factor and interleukin-8 decreased while concomitantly there was a significant increase in villus height and crypt depth of the small intestinal wall microvilli. This effect of “living food” on the immune system reinforces their relationship in healing the small intestine and colon.

Who hasn’t experienced a tension headache from certain chemical smells, certain foods (refined sugar), or a medication side effect? Hypersensitivity (allergies) seems to contribute to the mechanism of recurrent pain, yet little is available in the published literature to explain it.

Nutrient supplements to reduce allergies

One of the most important recommendations is to chew your food well. Your own ability to digest food is far greater than any supplements you may take as long as you give your body the opportunity. Beyond this, you will want to know about the following nutrient supplements that are known to calm an immune system on fire:

  • Digestive Enzymes at the start of each meal reduce allergy triggers that occur at the intestinal wall.
  • Bromelain (papaya enzyme) can be used as a digestive enzyme that has anti-allergy benefits.
  • Betaine HCL also gives the digestive process a boost. Watch for any acid feeling if you have a sensitive stomach. Many times betaine HCL is mixed with digestive enzyme supplements.
  • Probiotics are bacteria that are actually GOOD for you. They keep a healthy balance of intestinal flora and secrete butyrate which aids in keeping “leaky gut” damage to a minimum. Take this once daily after a meal when your stomach acid is lowest.
  • Alkaline Minerals are useful as co-enzymes in metabolic reactions. They also promote alkalinity with foods that are overly acid-forming.
  • L-Glutamine at 1000mg three times daily is proven to aid in healing the intestinal lining cells.
  • Butyrate is a short-chain fatty acid formed naturally by the fermentative action of microflora bacteria on high fiber food in the human intestinal system. Butyrate is reported in the medical literature as the preferred source of oxidative fuel of the cells of the intestinal lining.
  • Fresh Juices, or green drinks, are the highest nutrient dense foods available. If a green drink powder is used, look for brands with Spirulina, Chlorella, and Barley.

If you transition into a diet high in nutrient-rich vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, and legumes you can slowly but surely reverse autoimmune inflammation any likely most of your allergy symptoms. You should also eliminate refined sugars, refined oils, and processed foods and add the nutritional supplements listed earlier to your diet.

Dr. Michael Cutler

By Dr. Michael Cutler

Dr. Michael Cutler is a graduate of Tulane University School of Medicine and is a board-certified family physician with more than 20 years of experience. He serves as a medical liaison to alternative and traditional practicing physicians. His practice focuses on an integrative solution to health problems. Dr. Cutler is a sought-after speaker and lecturer on experiencing optimum health through natural medicines and founder of the original Easy Health Options™ newsletter — an advisory on natural healing therapies and nutrients. His current practice is San Diego Integrative Medicine, near San Diego, California.

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