Food Elimination and Re-Challenge
– By Dr. Caroline Cederquist and Dietitian Joy Post –
For many of us suffering from medical conditions that we really can’t explain, or from daily annoyances like allergies, aches and pains, or headaches, modern medicine hasn’t been able to offer many solutions. Certainly we have been provided with many coping mechanisms, and drugs to help alleviate symptoms, but few answers as to what the causation could be.
For those of us who desire health and vitality on a daily basis, the frustration mounts until we’re fed up, tired of symptoms, and become ready to try just about anything. We’d like to shed a little light on what we’ve found to be very effective in identifying the root cause of many common health conditions.
From Minor to Major
Most people are familiar with a classic food allergy response — a severe reaction to a particular food. It’s easy to identify the hives, throat swelling, or difficulty breathing after eating foods like peanuts or shrimp. This is one kind of a systemic, violent response to a type of food, which can be life threatening and the treatment is to avoid the food life-long.
Harder to identify, but no less significant are hidden food allergies, which may be present, but it incites a much more subtle response in the individual. There are many people who do feel they have a problem with foods of some sort, but it is not clear-cut or easy to define.
Some of the symptoms that can occur with a hidden food allergy are eczema, psoriasis, skin rashes, migraines, headaches, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), allergies, sinus infections, post-nasal drip, asthma, constipation, diarrhea, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, arthritis, inflammation of the joints and tissues, weight gain, rapid weight loss, gas and bloating, fibromyalgia, muscle aches, brain fog, and insomnia. These all point to a potential hidden food allergy.
One of the most toxic substances you can put in the body is a food that you are allergic to, as it can have an extremely inflammatory effect on the body, which triggers a systemic reaction by all the cells and tissues. Any food that causes inflammation, which is simply an allergic response, or any substance that compromises your immune system is a toxin.
It’s sometimes hard to recognize food allergens, until we eliminate a food category (like dairy, or wheat/gluten), and then see what happens when we add it back into our diet. The body goes through natural healing and detoxification in cycles, but allergenic food sources must be eliminated for true and complete detoxification to occur, and for the body to cool inflammation and reduce the reaction response.
Hidden food sensitivities which are determined by the antibody IgG can cause vague symptoms which are often not attributed to the food, (like clearing your throat of post-nasal drip). This contrasts drastically to immediate or severe reactions mediated by the antibody IgE, the most common example being a peanut allergy, where severe anaphylaxis can set in.
For food sensitivities and hidden food allergies, it’s a real problem when tissues are constantly inflamed, and the allergenic response is long-term. This puts the body in a state of ongoing inflammation and irritated reaction. On a day to day basis when symptom-producing foods are consumed, a person likely won’t experience a direct and immediate allergic reaction, especially when it is a common food they consume.
Otherwise we would all know with certainty what is causing our symptoms. But the reaction is hidden; it lies constantly aggravating the inner lining of the gastrointestinal tract, where 60% of immune function lies.
When the inner lining of the gastrointestinal tract is inflamed, or when foods pass through that damage the sensitive cells in your small and large intestines, it can cause minute ruptures and tears. This allows undigested food particles, old hormones, and toxins to seep into the bloodstream. The body produces antibodies to these toxins and reacts with inflammation, and symptoms like migraines and skin rashes.
The good news is, when you eliminate the most common offending foods for 28 days or more and then ‘re-challenge’ your body by reintroducing that food, you are able to illicit an exaggerated response and pinpoint food sensitivities more precisely than a blood test or skin test.
Food elimination and food rechallenge diets have been used for years to pinpoint food sensitivities. After eliminating common offending foods such as eggs, soy, dairy, wheat, corn, yeast, and citrus for around 28 days and then ‘challenging’ the body by reintroducing them, a more exaggerated response is triggered.
By taking each food and introducing it once more to your system one at a time, you can be a detective to discover what foods are triggering your headaches or watery eyes, or post nasal drip, or chronic constipation or diarrhea, or asthma, or insomnia, or whichever symptom of food allergy you are suffering from.
Losing Weight with Food Elimination
Many people choose a type of “detox” protocol to jump start a weight loss treatment. This can be unsafe as some alternative treatment programs recommend fasting for several days or drinking only juice. In any weight loss endeavor, adequate lean or vegetarian proteins are essential to weight loss and weight management. The body requires lean protein and amino acids in order to maintain muscle tissue, and if it is not supplied in the diet, it will consume its own muscle tissue to provide what it needs. This commonly happens in unsupervised “fasting or detox” cleanses.
It is crucial to work around hypoallergenic foods that are left to create the perfect caloric balance for weight loss. There are many, many hypoallergenic food choices, with rice protein and beans/legumes, nuts, seeds and fish or poultry being the best protein sources for maintaining that lean muscle tissue.
It is very rewarding to help so many patients lose weight. However, it is even more gratifying to hear from patients that we have helped them substantially improve medical conditions they believed they had to live with. We have been able to determine the cause of common symptoms and help improve overall health and wellness in a variety of patients suffering from chronic conditions.
Symptoms of Food Allergies
. Chronic fatigue
. Chronic pain
. Gas and bloating
. IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)
. Inflammation of the joints and tissues
. Muscle aches/cramps
. Post-nasal drip
. Rapid weight loss
. Sinus infections
. Skin rashes
. Weight gain
. Weight loss
Dr Caroline Cederquist is a specialist in weight management and her practice is based upon prevention with a functional medicine approach. 239.593.0663
Cederquist Medical Wellness Center