Have you heard the term “food allergy” thrown around a lot, but aren’t sure what exactly it is?
You’re in the same boat as most people!
It’s out there in popular culture and seems to have picked up steam lately with the advent of more awareness around the protein in wheat that causes issues for some folks, also known as gluten.
But what are food allergies, really?
What’s actually happening in my body and how would they make me feel?
Does everyone have food allergies?
How do I treat them if I have them?
These are all great questions, and I’m happy to answer as many as I can.
I work with my patients on a daily basis discussing food allergies and I’ve been through dealing with them on a personal level for over a decade now.
So I decided to make this super comprehensive 3 part series to help clarify a lot of the confusion surrounding food allergies, their testing, treatment options, and common misconceptions.
Here’s an overview of what the series will cover:
Part 1: How Do You Know If You Have Food Allergies?
Part 2: How to Do An Elimination Diet
Part 3: Common Mistakes People Make When Dealing with Food Allergies
So if any of these questions or titles have piqued your interest, stick around and check out what I’ve got in store!
I’ve also got a list of my favorite resources for dealing with food allergies that’s listed after the videos, so be sure to check that out!
Here's what you'll learn in Part 1:
- How to define food allergy, food sensitivity, and food intolerance and what the differences are between them
- Common causes of food allergies, including problem foods and more
- Typical symptoms of each type of reaction (HINT: they’re not just in your gut!)
- How inflammation plays a critical role in your health and how it can affect your GI health
- The truth about food allergy testing and that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be
- My favorite way to address food allergy, sensitivity, and intolerance issues
Ok, so now that we’ve covered WHY food allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances are important...
and helped you figure out whether or not you might have some, let’s dive into HOW to deal with them.
Like I mentioned in the last video, food allergy and sensitivity tests are expensive and unreliable.
They can give you a jumping off point, but aren’t the final word in what you might be sensitive to.
I strongly recommend an elimination diet to my patients.
Clinically, I’ve found it to be more accurate and produce longer term positive results.
And, really, it’s not that much more work than a food sensitivity test, because you’re going to be eliminating things that you’re sensitive to anyway!
Taking this step is an amazing part of your process. You’re on the verge of transforming issues that have been nagging you for years.
And the best part is that it’s only you who can do it!
No one else — not a doctor or a test result — is an expert on your body. You are.
This is your chance to really start listening to what it’s saying.
Here's what you'll learn in Part 2:
- What exactly an elimination diet is and the importance of listening to your body
- Why and why NOT to do an elimination diet so you can start with the right mental outlook
- How long you have to eliminate foods for the diet to be effective
- What foods are usually eliminated PLUS strategies on how to handle removing these foods and what to replace them with
- Detailed guidelines on how to reintroduce foods and why you may or may not want to reintroduce
Get My Reintroduction Planner and Journal
Get my step by step guide to re-introducing foods after an elimination diet the right way... with my printable worksheets: The Reintroduction Planner and The Reintroduction Journal.
That’s a lot of information. How are you doing?
Remember, this whole process takes time, so don’t feel bad if this seems overwhelming.
That overwhelmed feeling is exactly why I created part 3 of my series.
Here, we’ll talk about the most common mistakes that I see people make when dealing with food sensitivities and intolerances.
These mistakes often happen when people try to cut corners on the process that I outlined in video 2.
Cutting corners is appealing when you’re getting overwhelmed, but it also negates a lot of the hard work you’ve already done.
And it creates a short-term mentality of “just getting through this.”
Cutting corners also makes it very challenging to get accurate results on the elimination diet. And without accurate results, it’s easy to get discouraged or feel like the process didn’t work for you.
When you’re developing a skill set, mistakes can be costly to confidence and willpower in staying true to your mission.
Of course, we learn a lot when we make mistakes, but the beginning of a new habit is a tenuous time. One too many slip-ups or corners cut and sometimes the whole house of cards comes crashing down.
I want to give you every advantage possible to succeed in addressing your food sensitivities and intolerances.
Reorganizing the way you eat, and sometimes how your family eats, is a massive and difficult process. But it’s also one that could have a positive lasting impact on the rest of your life.
Kudos to you for taking on the challenge!
Stick with it and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed in your efforts!
Here’s what you’ll learn in part 3:
- The special mental and emotional challenges you face when revising your diet
- Why you shouldn’t go cold turkey on the elimination diet or any diet change
- Why partial elimination doesn’t work
- The importance of NOT “cheating” with food or time
- Common missteps that happen in the reintroduction phase
- Whether or not you should trust food allergy, sensitivity, or intolerance testing
- PLUS: my #1 piece of advice for success in navigating your food allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances
For all of you immunology buffs here's a great explanation of the types of immune hypersensitivity reactions we can have.
I only really covered one in the video, which is the IgE mediated type 1 hypersensitivity reaction that can lead to anaphylactic shock.
When I mention "delayed reactions" in the video, I specifically mean timeline that you may feel symptoms from eating a food that's irritating to you.
Your immune system will react as soon as it is exposed to an irritant, antigen, or foreign particle, but you may not feel those effects until hours or days later depending on which part of your immune system was activated.
My use of "delayed reactions" could be confused with a delayed hypersensitivity reaction, which is totally different, and mediated by a completely different part of your immune system (T cells, not IgG).
I did also indirectly mention type III hypersensitivity reactions when I mentioned food particles leaking across our GI membrane. Type III hypersensitivity involves antigen:antibody complexes forming then depositing in certain tissues, causing a local immune response in the joints, glands, etc.
Sometimes this process happens with food sensitivities, since they are antigen/antibody mediated, but that can't happen with food intolerances, since they are not antigen/antibody mediated. Instead, in food intolerances, food particles cause inflammation and indirectly involve the immune system that way, but don't form the immune complexes of a type III hypersensitivity reaction.
Sorry for any confusion there!
Books and resources mentioned in Part 1:
Coping with Food Intolerances by Dr. Dick Thom
Food Allergies and Food Intolerance by Jonathan Brostoff
What is NAET, or Nambudripad's Allergy Elimination Testing?
Article on Carroll Testing
Glyphosate (active ingredient in Roundup) articles:
Pubmed article on glyphosate and gluten intolerance
PCBs and Human Health
Books and resources mentioned in Part 2:
The Elimination Diet by Tom Malterre and Alyssa Segernsten
The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook by Tom Malterre and Alyssa Segernsten
My favorite brand of ghee (check out all the flavors!)
Tasty Yummies blog -- low allergy, often paleo and keto
Nourishing Meals blog -- by the same author of The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook
Recipes on my blog that are Elimination Diet friendly:
5 Minute Chocolate Coconut Pudding (omit the chocolate and add other flavors like lemon, orange, or mint if you're avoiding chocolate)
Slow Cooker Vegan Paleo Butternut Squash Curry (omit the tomatoes and peppers if you're avoiding nightshades)
Easy and Perfectly Delicious Cuban Black Beans (omit green pepper if avoiding nightshades)
Full Transcript for Video #1
Hi, I'm Dr. Liz Carter, and welcome to my free three-part series, Figuring out Your Food Allergies. In this first video we're going to cover how to know if you have food allergies, and really get into the definition of what they are. In part two, we're going to look at my favorite way to treat food allergies, which is also free and pretty easy to do. In the third part, we're going to look at some of the most common issues I see people have while treating food allergies and what to do about that.
Okay. Let's dive right in today, to part one of our series. How do I know if I have a food allergy? I think this is a very common question that comes up for people. There's a lot floating around out there nowadays about food allergies. I think gluten in particular has come up a lot, but we also start to hear more about others like dairy, eggs, all kinds of things. It is a question that I think a lot of people are asking, and whether or not this is valid.
I think there's a lot of thought process around, "I don't know if gluten allergy is a real thing. Celiac disease seems to be, but maybe not these other allergies. What are people talking about?" Then we also have an issue with the usage of terms, which we'll get into here. Actually I'll show you what we're going to cover today, and then I'll explain a little bit.
We'll be defining allergy sensitivity and intolerance. These all mean different things, and they're all relevant to understand. If I'm being honest, there's a lot of misunderstanding of the terms even within the naturopathic profession itself, or allergy profession, as Western medicine allergy docs. Then also the terms are used inconsistently. I'm going to do my best to define them as how I understand them, and in my career this is how they've been defined.
Other people might feel differently, so feel free to do your own research and see what you find out there. This video is a jumping-off point for you to really start discovering more. There's plenty of amazing, wonderful resources out there that I'll also have links to below the video for you to check out. I will introduce them to you as well at the end of the series. Have no fear. There will be a lot of ways besides this video to look into a little bit further information for yourself, because there's a lot out there and it can be confusing.
Allergy sensitivity and intolerance, and then we'll look at the typical symptoms that happen with each of these, because they're not all the same. I think this is where people get really confused as well. Then common causes of these allergies and intolerances, which of course some can be food and surprisingly some are not food. Sometimes it's what's in food or a few other factors. We'll get into that and parsing it all out, really trying to clarify exactly what's going on here.
Then we'll also find out the truth about food allergy testing, which is interesting. I think that's what we all think of, we're, "Oh my gosh. I might have food allergies so let me try out some food allergy testing. That will surely tell me the answer." We'll learn today a little bit further in how it can be helpful, and then how it can be not helpful and even detrimental as well.
Food allergy tests are not the end-all be-all of understanding your food allergies, even though it's touted that way because it's a very convenient way to get you to pay 160 bucks or more to do this, to test 100 foods or so. Even more if you're getting testing at, like skin testing at an allergist's office.
I'm not a huge fan of food allergy tests. They do have a limited applicability which can be great and it can get people jumping off to start with, looking into this process, but definitely not the end-all be-all. I'm getting a little ahead of myself, I tend to do that.
Let's back it up and let's start off at the beginning here. I have to warn you guys, there's a lot of slides, I guess visuals or slides here, to go through today so just hang in there with me. There's going to be a lot of information in this one. The other two videos, there'll be information but maybe not quite as like visual or slide heavy here.
We're going to start with the first one. We're going to define a food allergy. A food allergy is immune-mediated. I've written over here Ag/Ab, so that might not make a lot of sense to you, but it's an antigen-antibody reaction. That means your immune system has to react in an allergy, in a food allergy specifically. That makes sense, right?
That is the same thing that happens with pollen and other things we're allergic to in the environment. Your immune system sees this foreign substance and it decides, "Hey, this is not supposed to be here. I am going to attack it." That's part of it. The antigen is the little invader guy and the antibody is the immune protein marker that your body forms to combat that. That's very convenient. In a lot of food allergy testing, we are testing for one of these. It's called Ig or immunoglobulin proteins.
Food allergy that way, when it's defined this way, it's an immediate response or IgE. There are a lot of different types of immune responses in the body, which is wonderful because our immune system is fabulous. We have to fight off a whole bunch of different kinds of things, but an immediate response is one that has very significant and potentially severe symptoms.
We've got all these things listed out here. We've got swelling of the face, tongue, throat, and lips, that sounds pretty intense and scary. We've got wheezing or difficulty breathing, literally our throat can swell up, and same with the bronchioles in our lungs. Hives or itching skin, so a lot of heat and irritation happening, or vomiting and diarrhea.
These are all symptoms of anaphylaxis. That's a big word that is ... It's pretty scary. It means that there's this really intense hypersensitivity response. This is the type of response you hear about with people who maybe have peanut allergies or kids, or people that have to carry around EpiPens with them. The IgE response is that immediate hypersensitivity response, and that is technically what a food allergy is.
You can already see that, "Hey, maybe I've heard from my naturopath I have food allergies or other things, but I don't have that type of response." This is where the term food allergy is very, very often misused, and I am guilty of that too. I often say food allergy just for the simplicity of things. It's what people most understand, and there are some other things we'll deal with that are allergic responses but in a little bit different way. Food allergy is this blanket term and really there's three different reactions, at least, that we have. Technically a food allergy is truly this really intense, potentially life-threatening response.
The most common reactions are milk, eggs, fish, shellfish. I think shellfish, it's one of those that you see in comedy shows or movies where people swell up and then they can't breathe. It's meant as a joke or a comic relief at that point. They get hives as well. That's a really common depiction of a shellfish allergy. Wheat, soy, peanuts, and tree nuts. This is where the airlines stopped carrying peanuts as snacks, where you have to ask for them specially, and then people needing nut-free dishes and issues. These are the most common foods that cause that really intense, potentially life-threatening reactions, and it's no joke. This is a big deal. Food allergies are really, really intense and important to recognize here.
There's been an increase in prevalence in them in the last few years, which is interesting, showing that our immune systems are just a little more reactive. That's a whole another video to get into about that. I think these are the most easily quantifiable food allergies that people can understand. If you have such an intense physical symptom that you can't breathe, people think that's legitimate, people understand. There's not the same kind of mentality with a peanut allergy as there is with a gluten allergy. I think this is an interesting one to look at, the technical definition of a food allergy.
Okay. Let's get into, let me move this back up here, food sensitivities. This is probably the least well-defined term out of the three: out of the allergy, the sensitivity, and the intolerance. This is the murkiest and this is the best I could do to tease it out for you guys, but as you'll find as we go through this, a lot of things with food allergies are not really clear. That's okay, because it's a big learning experience and it's super, super helpful to have to muddle through it on your own, as awful as that sounds. Hopefully we're clarifying a little bit so there's a little bit less muddling.
A food sensitivity is another immune response. We did talk about the IgE and the hypersensitivity reaction, but your body can make a whole bunch of other types of immunoglobulin. These are a few examples, so IgG, which is often a delayed sensitivity reaction, IgA, and IgM. IgM is also delayed and IgA is specific to our mucous membranes in the body, so like GI tract, throat, sinuses, urinary tract, all kinds of things. We're not going to get into that too much, but I do have delayed reactions down here. This is why these can be a little murkier and more confusing. If you have a true food allergy and an IgE hypersensitivity reaction, you are going to know it immediately, maybe within 15 minutes or an hour.
With these guys, since they're delayed, it's very hard to figure out if there's an issue. The delayed means up to 72 hours delayed, which is a big deal. That's really, really difficult to actually pin down what has been happening in the past 72 hours. You've probably eaten a lot in the mean time, so it's very difficult to say, "Was it the dairy I ate this morning? Was it wheat?" This is where the confusion around food allergies comes from, where it's like, "How could this possibly be an issue? I didn't have anything happen right after I ate," but the truth is, most food allergies are delayed, that they don't happen right, right away.
I think that's where it's very difficult to understand as someone who has food allergies, sensitivities, or intolerances, when you're just beginning to learn about them. Then it's very difficult for other people to understand as well because they associate this food allergy with anaphylactic shock type of thing.
I've written here that these are much more common than IgE reactions. Especially in my career I have a very different viewpoint of that. I rarely see IgE reactions and I rarely test people for them, because if you have an IgE reaction, one of those hypersensitivity reactions, you are going to know it. You're going to find that out pretty early in life because it only takes being exposed to a food twice to really develop that hypersensitivity reaction.
Usually what I'm working with with people is figuring out sensitivities and intolerances. Again, those are much more common to come up and be an issue. We'll get into a little bit of maybe why that might be happening for people. Food sensitivity, also immune-mediated, but not that hypersensitivity IgE reaction.
There we go. Common food sensitivity reaction foods. We've got a little bit more exhaustive list. That's not saying that the IgE reactions can't involve these, it's just less common. You've got some good overlap here. We've got gluten, dairy, soy, corn, sugar, eggs, I tucked on citrus there, sorry. I remembered a couple a little bit late. Yeast, nightshades can be a big one. Nightshades are potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, usually that whole family. I know, that's ... There's a lot of really fun foods in there. You can have delayed immune reactions, so usually IgG delayed reactions to these foods. You can have different ones as well, these are just the most common. Oftentimes I see if people are sensitive to some of these big ones, that's usually the core of the sensitivity, and any other smaller sensitivities to resolve when we start to treat these core foods. That's big, right?
These foods are a large part of our diet a lot of the time. Soy and corn, if you're eating more processed foods, they end up in everything because we've got high fructose corn syrup and then soybean oil, it's just ubiquitous in processed foods. Even some natural and organic foods will use really low-quality oils, not often high fructose corn syrup because that is GMO, and GMO foods are not allowed in organic foods, but you will see organic soy things in there.
This is where you see a lot of people starting to look at a wider issue of foods they might have reactions to. We're going to skip over common symptoms for food sensitivities, and we're going to hit that when we talk about food intolerances as well because most of them overlap quite a bit. We'll just move on forward. Man, my slides are having a little trouble staying up today. It's okay. It's a lot of paper weight there. Okay.
Food intolerances. This is our third type of food issue. It does not involve the immune system. That is the take away for food intolerance, no immune system activation directly. It can activate things indirectly over time, but it's not this antigen-antibody reaction. That's why this can get even more confusing because almost all, well all of the food allergy tests that we have available, either through your conventional Western medicine allergist or your naturopath, test for the antibody-antigen reaction.
We'll get into that a little bit further when we talk about testing. These are really up to you to figure out and see if you're sensitive to. There is no good test. There is something we'll talk about when we get there, it's a very specialized type of testing that can be massively helpful for people, but most of the time for food intolerances it's you figuring things out on your own here. Often activated indirectly with the immune system. Yes.
Food intolerance means that the body cannot process part of the food. It literally does not have the gear to break down part of that food. That can come from a few different things: it could lack an enzyme, it could be lacking a nutrient, it could be lacking the proper bacteria. We hear a lot about probiotics and the importance of balancing out your good flora, those really do play a part in breaking down food sometimes. That's part of where the food intolerance comes from, is that you literally don't have the tools to break it down for whatever reason. There are several reasons that can play into that.
We do hear about lactose intolerance, that one's actually labeled correctly because we literally do not have the lactase enzyme which breaks down the milk sugar lactose. That's common in about 70% of the population supposedly, only Northern Europeans are really supposed to produce enough lactase to break down that lactose sugar in milk, or soft dairy products usually. I think that's the most clear example of actually lacking an enzyme, it's kind of one-to-one. Unfortunately most food intolerances are not quite that clear.
Let's move on to common intolerance foods. You can see we have some really similar foods to the sensitivity list. We've got dairy, gluten, corn, soy, citrus, eggs, nightshades, sugar. Then we can get into a few other things, additives, that's interesting in foods: additives, colorings, preservatives. Why would we have the machinery to break that down in the body? They're not natural, so people can develop intolerances to them.
They can develop this reaction, and we'll get into what symptoms come up on the next slide here, they can develop this reaction to these additives or inorganic, unnatural byproducts that are in processed food in our food supply nowadays. This also applies to GMO foods with the lots of Roundup that's layered in to the foods itself. Again, I think I mentioned this in a previous video, but they're finding a lot of the gluten sensitivity can be directly related to the chemical found in Roundup. That's actually what people are reacting to. Interesting new stuff coming out all the time about the food issues.
Additives, right. Fructose, that's interesting, not the same as sugar. Fructose and glucose are completely different pathways, or partially different pathways in your body metabolism. Amines sometimes, and salicylates. These are all little byproducts of foods. Amines come up a lot in fermentation. Salicylates come up a lot in onion, garlic kind of foods, among others. It's surprising when you look into a list of salicylates. For some people, they just literally do not have the capacity to break these down.
The question there is, is that genetic, like lactose intolerance where we just don't produce the enzyme, or is it from something environmentally that's been going on that's actually affecting our digestive machinery, and not really allowing us to digest properly? That comes into play with food intolerances and food sensitivities because we have the potential of activating that immune system unnecessarily to those foods that we normally wouldn't react to. Okay. Complicated picture overall. I know.
Let's check out the common symptoms of food allergies and food intolerances. We can see a lot of GI related things can come up. Diarrhea, you often see a little bit more, from my clinical experience I'm speaking, a little bit more diarrhea, which makes sense if you literally lack the machinery to deal with the intolerance. Your body is just going to say, "Hey, I am getting this out of here. It needs to move through. I can't deal."
Whereas constipation I think is a little bit more common in a sensitivity reaction where you've got a lot of inflammation happening, and we'll get a little bit more into inflammation in a bit here. The extra inflammation will draw moisture out of the stool and into small intestine or large intestine, so it will dehydrate the stool effectively. That's where you get this constipation reaction. Again, that's what I've seen clinically, not always a one-to-one.
Gas and bloating of course, because if you have an immune reaction or you don't have the correct enzymes to break things down, or mechanisms, things are going to sit in the GI longer than they should and ferment a little bit, and cause this gas and bloating. Nausea is also another symptom as well as cramping, which can go along with gas and bloating.
I think that these are pretty easy to understand symptoms when it comes to food allergies. People understand that the GI is involved because you are putting food into your GI, pretty one-to-one. However, this is a very, very small part of what symptoms can come up with food intolerances and food sensitivities. This is where it gets interesting, when we look into this comprehensive list of common symptoms.
We also get headaches. I've seen many, many people have migraines related to food sensitivities or intolerances. I've seen foggy headed thinking, where you just can't quite connect the dots. You're a little bit out of it, that type of thing. I've seen anxiety, depression, and anger related to food allergies. I've had a few patients who get unbelievably angry when they have gluten, which is very interesting. I've also had a few with gluten and dairy that have this major anxiety response, or they feel like they've had like 18 cups of coffee and are just wired. It's really fascinating the farther reaching effects these foods have on our nervous system sometimes.
A lot of respiratory issues are actually related to food allergies or can be. I'm sorry. I said allergies, that's just how I refer to them. In this case I do mean sensitivities and intolerances. I'll try to catch myself with that, but it might not always happen. Asthma, sinusitis. Sinus infections are a big one that can happen. PND stands for post nasal drip. Ear infections. A lot of times for little kids dairy is a big issue in terms of the sensitivity with ear infections, a little pearl there for you. Bronchitis, so even more kind of lung issues coming up. Skin issues especially eczema and psoriasis are very likely related to food allergy issues. Almost skin, almost is never about the skin. It's always about something more deeply rooted and it almost always starts in the GI.
Let's move on to even more common symptoms. I know, this is quite the list. Joint and muscle pain, which is interesting. I'm not talking about if you have a trauma or you went to the gym, of course you might be a little bit sore, or if you overextended something. This is more persistent joint muscle pain. Maybe it takes you longer to recover from the gym than you think it should, or you wake up with aching joints and you're not really sure what's going on. Oftentimes it's symmetrical, so it will be both wrists, or both ankles, or both knees, that type of thing that comes up. Insomnia can happen from these food allergies.
Again, most often from their effect on the nervous system. Sorry, food sensitivities or intolerances. Then low energy or fatigue of course can happen, and unexplained weight gain can be a big one for people where it just adds up over time and you're like, "I don't know what happened. I didn't change anything." Food sensitivities and intolerances can be at the root of that.
I do just want to address something, this exhaustive symptom list that came up. These food sensitivities and intolerances are certainly not the only reason these things might be happening. Of course if you have these things happening, definitely talk to your health care practitioner, see what they have to say. Get some blood work, get some tests, rule things out. Make sure there's nothing more serious going on.
In terms of these symptoms, I'm never talking about acute, it's always chronic. These are chronic issues that people have come up over months and years of their life, that they just adapt to, and they just assume that's the way life is and there's no way it could possibly be any different. Oftentimes if that's your picture, there is a food sensitivity or intolerance component to it. Not always again, and this is just a video. Please, check in with your local practitioner and see what they have to say, and do some more research on your own and feel like if you really fit that picture.
This covers a lot of symptoms people can have. Food sensitivities, intolerance testing or treatment is clearly not a cure-all, and that's not what I wanted to make it out to be. Do I see great results from people in my practice who follow a treatment plan and address their food sensitivities and intolerances? Yes. Are there are a lot of random symptoms that end up clearing up? Yes.
It does work and it does help if that is the route. That's really the key here, is figuring out if the food symptoms are at the root of the issue for you. It's surprising a lot of times how much that it can be, but again, that's where you want to check in with your local practitioner. Again, if any of these come up acutely, that's a very different thing than if it's chronic or over the long term. I just wanted to mention that for you there. Okay.
My big question here was, can these all be related to food allergies, this seems crazy. My answer is, yes, seriously. They really all can be related. I'm sure you're wondering, "Why? I don't really understand why because they're just going through the GI tract. What is the deal here? How can they possibly affect my mood or my nerves, or my joints, or my muscles, or my fatigue level, it just doesn't make any sense."
That comes down to this one lovely thing that we have in our body, inflammation. Inflammation gets a really bad rap, I'm sure I've talked about this in a few of my other videos. Inflammation is crucial to our immune system, it's crucial to our healing process. It is not something we want to squash or manage with Tylenol or other anti-inflammatories. We want to get to the root of why this inflammation is happening, and then we want to address that and bring that inflammation load down naturally.
Inflammation is telling us there's something wrong, and then we need to figure out what the heck is going on. We need to listen to our body and figure out what is the root of this inflammation. Oftentimes, extra inflammation is at the root of definitely food sensitivities and sometimes food intolerances depending on what's going on with the food intolerances.
Let's look at a little bit of how this actually happens, and the contributing factors. This is the process here that we can have. Let's start with food intolerances over here on this side, so the things that can relate to food intolerances. We've got things like dairy, gluten, eggs, maybe we're missing some enzymes, maybe we're missing some bacteria, fructose, maybe we just don't have that enzyme at all, additives. We don't have any machinery to break down these chemicals in our body.
Food intolerances over time, they will lead to inflammation because they're not something that our body really knows how to deal with and break down properly, so they're going to sit there and they're going to cause irritation, and irritation causes inflammation. That's the secondary recruitment of the immune system where it's not a direct recruitment, there's not an antigen-antibody response, but if there's an irritant, our body is going to come into that area with inflammation, which is part of an immune system response, and try to clean it up. That's what we do with inflammation. Inflammation recruits white blood cells and other immune cells to come in and say, "Hey, there's a problem here. We need to clean this up. We need to get this out of here."
We can see the inflammation may be created by these food intolerances, and we can also see that inflammation is created by other things. We've got environmental toxins which we all tend to be very exposed to a ton of nowadays, with air fresheners and PCBs, crap and plastic, it's all over the place. There's tons of different things that contribute to our environmental toxins.
We're just surrounded by chemicals. Then we've got allergens, environmental allergens like grass or pollen, trees, that type of thing. Then we've got stress that leads to inflammation. Of course I think we all can understand that. Then we've also got pathogenic bacteria. Maybe you pick something up or something you should have eaten, or had to drink something like that. Then processed foods cause inflammation because of the weird additives and chemicals that are in there.
We can see that all of these things contribute to inflammation. If we've already got a high inflammatory load, and then we've got some foods here that maybe we can't quite deal with, it's going to create an intolerance. It's going to create a reaction to that issue. I hope that makes sense, that they both kind of inform each other on this spectrum, where inflammation, extra and way too much inflammation can lead to food intolerances. Sometimes addressing these issues over here which often have to do with maybe potentially food sensitivities as well, will bring down food intolerances, or if we bring down food intolerances will decrease our overall inflammation load in the body.
What can happen with this cycle is that it leads to something called leaky gut. I'm going to bring this back around to why all those symptoms happen. When we get leaky gut, what's happened is we created enough inflammation and irritation in that GI that we've taken the cells that make up the GI lining. They're usually really tightly bound together, so things aren't going to get through.
The proteins that are weird and maybe not totally digested because we've got a food intolerance, we can't really break it down all the way, those are going to stay on the outside of the GI lining. Over time, if we've got a lot of inflammation, we've recruited more moisture, there's all this swelling and irritation there, those junctions get a little bit of gap between them. When that happens, these proteins, these partially digested proteins or allergens can actually leak across the GI membrane. That is why it's called leaky gut.
Then we've got these weird proteins that are partially broken down, that look like gluten or they look like dairy, that leak across into our bloodstream and then they deposit in other parts of our body. This is how these food sensitivities and intolerances can actually migrate and affect other systems of the body. It really depends on who you are and what your susceptible systems are, where they land. For some people it stays in the mucous membranes and it goes right to their sinuses, and they're more prone to allergies. Some people it goes to the joints. Some people it goes to the nervous system where they have those mood issues or a lot of fatigue. It just really, really depends on where those susceptible points are, and the food.
Different foods have different affinities for things. Gluten tends to look a lot like the thyroid and this is where we get a very strong reaction in people who have Hashimoto's thyroiditis, there's a gluten partially broken down. Gluten protein that looks very similar to the thyroid gland, so if your immune system is trying to get out this weird gluten protein and then the thyroid look similar, the immune system is going to start attacking the thyroid. Again, the leaky gut can really lead to a lot of these issues with foods and then over time if it happens chronically enough can lead to autoimmune issues. I'm sure I will do a whole video on that at some point because it's a big deal, but this really is the core of that. We want to learn how to heal up that gut and remove these irritating factors.
Let's look in to some testing. Okay. We've got a lot of stuff on here. How do we actually test for these food allergies? This is really important, or sensitivities or intolerances. This is really important to address because this is a really common misunderstanding that people have. We've got the type of reaction, we've got the common method of testing, and then what does this common method of testing test?
Looking at a true food allergy, again, that's that hypersensitivity, potential anaphylactic shock, it doesn't always go that far but you do have those symptoms come up. Looking at the traditional food allergy test, you go to an allergist, a Western doc, and they do either a skin prick test where they test all these different allergens on your back usually. If it reacts that means you have a hypersensitivity reaction, or a RAST test, which is a blood test that also tests IgE.
This is the main point of misunderstanding that I see in people when they come to me and they say, "I've had allergy testing," or, "I've had food allergy testing and I don't have any," or it's grass or something because they often test for environmental and foods at the same time. Their food testing is often quite minimal. That's not really telling me anything. It's telling me that you do not have an anaphylactic or hypersensitivity IgE, immediate reaction to foods.
Again, that's something that you would usually know on your own because they are severe or have intense symptoms come along. When you've been to get skin allergy testing, that is not actually testing a large part, or the most common type of food allergies or food sensitivity reactions, that test the other immune response, the delayed sensitivity where you have all these other random symptoms that come up that are very difficult to associate with foods. That's a big one.
When we look at actually testing for food sensitivities, this is where something you get usually from a naturopath or a natural healthcare practitioner, it's a food allergy panel. It usually tests for around 100 foods and it tests, usually you can choose. I usually test for IgG, you can also test IgE if you want, or IgA I believe. the IgG again is that delayed reaction that has more of these kind of ... I can't think of the word. Anyway, just weird symptoms that come in from nowhere. Sorry. Brain fart. It has more of these amorphous symptoms I suppose, that's halfway what I was going for there. I think you know what I mean, difficult to correlate, anyway. I've actually seen some of these tests being advertised, I see them online being advertised, and I haven't looked into them enough to see if they are actually testing IgG. It's a home test kit that you can do and you can send it in, but there's a lot of issues with food allergy tests in general, or food sensitivity tests, even from naturopaths.
We've learned that food intolerances are not going to show up at all, because we're only testing antibody-antigen reactions for a food sensitivity test. I do recommend them if people really need a jumping-off point, if they're very hesitant about changing their diet and they need to see it in black and white on a piece of paper. Okay, great. Go ahead. We'll do the food sensitivity.
It will give them a starting point, but I'm very careful to explain that it is not the end-all be-all of figuring out what you're sensitive to or intolerant to food-wise. The tests are not always accurate, I like to say they're about 80% accurate, where they will miss a few things. They usually catch big ones or they will tell you you're reactive to things when you're not. I think people really want it to be like, "Wow. This is it. This is all I have to worry about. No problem from here on out," and that's just not true.
There are people that have very significant intolerances that do not show up on this food sensitivity testing at all, because it's not testing for the correct response for people. It's kind of frustrating that way where there's not the end-all be-all of tests for people. Again, this sensitivity testing is probably about $160, maybe up to 200.
Getting the skin test at the allergist depends on your insurance coverage. I've heard $300, $500, $800 to get that done, and to me that is the least useful of any, unless you're worried about a potential hypersensitivity reaction, that is valuable to understand that. Again, it's very rare and usually people have those figured out by the time when they're kids when that happens.
The food sensitivity test has a limited and very specific application, but again knowing it's not the end-all be-all is really important. Then testing for food intolerance, this one is tough because it's the one that is just kind of ... I don't know. You really have to do some hard work on your own there, there's not a great test. That being said, there is something called Carroll testing, which will ... It is a type of blood test, it's very specific. It was developed by a naturopath O.G. Carroll around the turn of the century. There are not many people that practice this testing method. I have had patients do it and have found massive success with it. They do have a method for testing intolerances, which I find really interesting, but you do have to find a practitioner that's specially trained in that testing. You can look up Carroll testing, I will put that in the resource notes below as well for you.
The main thing we want to do usually for intolerances and sensitivities is the elimination diet. That is usually the best way to go because at that point we're taking things out that are most likely irritating, and then we're getting this inflammation, this chronic inflammation level down, and your symptoms should come down if they are affected by foods. That is usually what I like to recommend most of all, and it's free, so it's fabulous that way. By the way, if you have sensitivities come up in this or in this, guess what? You're not going to be eating them anyway. It all leads to the same path. The elimination diet is done a little bit differently, which we'll certainly talk about as well, that's more part two of the series, is how to do the elimination diet. There's a lot of things we want to talk about, about how to do that correctly and good for you.
I just wanted to mention, I did put in one extra thing and it's called NAET. I'll put a link to that or a little description of what it actually is. It's someone's last name who I can't pronounce, allergy elimination testing. That is another way to test and it's a test and a treatment all-in-one. Again, that's a very specific practitioner. They need to be trained in it but I've also found that very, very helpful for people as well. That's really lovely. Okay.
Can these reactions be healed? I think that's a really common question, right? It's like, "Man, I've got all this stuff going on. I might have some food sensitivities and intolerances. Am I stuck with these for life? Am I going to be avoiding these foods forever?" As my mentor told me, any good naturopath will answer most questions, it depends. Which is very frustrating I understand on your end but hear me out, it's ... By the way, I have been on the receiving end of that question many times from my own naturopath, so I get it.
It depends because we're all so individual and unique. It depends on what our overall body burden of environmental allergens, toxins, and food intolerances and allergies are. That's a big part of it. In naturopathic medicine we talk about our vital force, which is our own innate ability to heal. That changes as we age, that changes as we have traumas in our life that we deal with or that we don't deal with. That all affects our healing potential, our innate healing potential. That depends on how quickly you heal or if you heal.
Then if you have an intolerance and you simply don't have the machinery to break things down, that's not something you're going to heal. You're not going to heal a lactose intolerance. You are going to heal your GI by removing dairy and not having it irritated anymore if you are lactose intolerant, but it's not something that if you quit eating dairy and then you can try to get in six months it'll be different, because you're just lacking in that machinery.
It's very muddled and up and down, much like the world of food allergies in general, but that's okay because it's this massive self-discovery process of understanding what are you sensitive to, what are you intolerant to. What's happening with these symptoms that may have been here for years and that now are gone and I feel so much better? There's a lot of questions that can be answered while looking into food allergy, sensitivities, intolerances that way.
It depends is a good thing, right? We're not cookbooks, it's not A + B = C. That's really a Western medicine outlook. It's very convenient and feels good to have that reassurance, but knowing that you are a unique individual and that you have to learn how to work with you and your body is awesome, because you are an expert on your body. That's what this process teaches you, is to trust in that and to understand what it's telling you. That's the greatest gift of all, that's what I hope for all of my patients to be able to do that and understand what their body is telling them, how to listen.
I already said this, but I'll say it again. Your best bet is the elimination diet, and that is what we're going to dive into in our next video, how to do the elimination diet because it's not as simple as just taking things out. There's a way to do it and there's a way not to do it, and that's actually what we'll cover in the third video, is the common mistakes I see people make while on the elimination diet. Don't be too afraid, it's not super scary. It's totally doable. We'll talk about strategies and ways to do it, I'm not just going to throw you out there and say, "Go ahead and do it." There's a lot that you can build up a skillset around to make it a better and easier process for you. Okay. Well that's it for today. Thanks so much for watching.
Just a quick little end note here. I forgot to mention the books that I really like in case you guys are really interested in reading up a little bit more on your own, for some more resources about food allergies, food intolerances, and food sensitivities. Coping with Food Intolerances is a pretty easy book to get into. It's pretty friendly. I really like it. Its author is a naturopath and he does a fabulous job of explaining how we look at the body and how the naturopathic philosophy really plays into looking at food allergies, and why you might have them, food sensitivities and intolerances, that type of thing. It's very approachable. He also has some recipes at the end of the book. I haven't really tried out the recipes in this one, they seem pretty simple and basic, which can be great, but I actually have a few other books that I prefer for the recipes. I haven't really given this one a fair shot, but the other ones I really like that I will share with you in my next video.
Then this one, the Food Allergies and Food Intolerances, this is a little more in-depth, pretty scientific read for all those you guys who really like a lot of detail. It has a slightly different take on things than the Coping with Food Intolerances but fabulous, fabulous resource. Not so much focused on approachability and then also diet suggestions at the end, but a ton of really awesome information in case you want to dive in there and learn some more. I'll certainly put the links to these below the video as well. Okay. Thanks so much. Take care.
Look at this stack of stuff this week. I mean, it's going to be like 25 pages. I think I need to invest in double stick tape because I use so much of it.
Full Transcript for Video #2
Hi, I'm Dr. Liz Carter, and welcome to video two of my free three part series, Figuring Out Your Food Allergies. So, if you missed video one, you probably want to go back and check that out. That's all about what food allergies actually are, and how to test for them. And today, we're gonna dive in to my favorite treatment for food allergies.
Okay, so let's dive right in here to part two of the video series, how to do an elimination diet. So, in the last video, we established that doing an elimination diet is the best way to test for food sensitivities and intolerances, which are by far the most prevalent type of food issue that people have. Food allergies are technically defined as that IgE hypersensitivity reaction that causes potential anaphylactic shock.
So, not nearly as common as things that are these kind of vague symptoms that can affect all different parts of the body. So, that's why an elimination diet can be so helpful, because we want to because we learned that the testing methods only test for an allergic response specifically for food allergies and food sensitivities, and that there really isn't a great test for food intolerances, besides a little specific one where there are very few practitioners trained in it, that we covered last time.
So, an elimination diet is cheap. I believe I said it was easy. I think it's easy in theory, it's very difficult in practice, depending on what's going on for you. But it will often give you the best and most clear results out of anything, and it's something that you don't need anybody else to do. You could start experimenting immediately, which is why I love it, right? And again, I love suggesting the elimination diet because it puts the power back into your hands as the patient, or the person who wants to improve their diet. I think far too often, we look to lab tests to validate what we're feeling, or to tell us what's wrong with us, instead of actually looking internally and doing that hard work to say, yeah, what is really irritating me? How can I find that out myself? How can I start listening?
Because most of the time, we just really, really don't want to listen. Our body is usually being pretty clear that there's something wrong, but we just don't like listening, because we like our habits, we like our lifestyle, we like our diet choices. Sometimes there's even an endorphin rush we get from certain foods we eat. There is this biochemical as well as mental/emotional attachment to certain foods. So, a test is this external impetus.
It can tell us something that we are failing to recognize in ourselves, and sometimes that's necessary. But again, all the tests will bring you back to an elimination diet, and the elimination diet I think is very empowering. You are in control, you're listening, you're figuring out what's wrong, and that, again, is truly the core of naturopathic medicine, and that's truly my goal and mission for you, is to help you learn how to listen to your body better so you can heal at this deep level. Addressing the root rather than just addressing symptoms.
So, okay, let's dive in to how to do an elimination diet. So, an overview of the video. We'll cover what is an elimination diet? Why should you do an elimination diet, which we talked about a little bit. But then also, why you shouldn't do an elimination diet, because that's also really important to understand. How long do you eliminate things, right?
So, we're getting into kind of the nuts and bolts of what to do. What do you typically eliminate? I'll cover that as best again, again, that's pretty variable. And then, how to reintroduce foods. This is the part of the elimination diet that is talked about the least, because it's called the elimination diet. It's talking about taking foods out. Whereas this reintroduction part is by far the most challenging step, and can be valuable, and can not be. So, we'll get into that as well, and why or why not you may want to consider doing that part.
Okay, so one thing I wanted to highlight here. It's a little frustrating for me that they call it the elimination diet, which is why I put it in quotes. I do understand that that's a very easy term for people to wrap their head around.
And diet usually means some sort of shift in the way that you're eating, whether it be taking out certain food groups, or shifting calories, or shifting the time that you're eating, anything like that. However, I think a diet also has this very restricted feel, which I get it, it's the elimination diet, but bear with me, we'll get into some good stuff about that. A restrictive feel, and then also an impermanent feel, right? That it's a temporary thing.
And I think it's really, really important to understand that when you embark on this elimination diet, it's really about lifestyle change. It's about really getting in to things, and potentially letting go of these foods that have been causing you issues for decades, and just leaving them out of your life. That's not always the problem, I know, don't turn off the video yet.
It's not always how it goes. But a lot of times, it is a significant period of time that you need to be away from that food. Months to years, and then over time you learn that maybe you just don't even want it in there at all. That's the beauty of this elimination diet and change, is that it is a constant negotiation. No one does this perfectly, and I don't think it should be done perfectly. It should never just be cold turkey, it's out, it's out forever. That's very rarely how it works.
And then, every time something slips back in, you learn something about yourself. You learn how your body reacts, you learn how you feel, you learn how much you want that food in your diet again based on how badly it feels. You learn the situations that are worth it to you to have that and not, and often that evolves over time.
So, again, this is all the process of learning to listen to your body, and understand what it's saying to you. Like I said, it's always a negotiation. It's always, do I want to deal with these symptoms that happen by having this food, or is it not worth it to me? And that evolves. So, it is a lifestyle change. It's a long term process. So, that's something to be really aware of before you go into an elimination diet, that it is a commitment, and it's much more effective if you have that mindset, and that's why sometimes, especially for people if they're not ready, I don't recommend that we jump into it right away. You really have to be ready.
You can jump in, but then, I think there's an expectation for yourself that you need to think about. Like, wow, okay, this might not work out, because mentally, I know that I am not ready to completely let go of this. Some people need to see how much they improve, and then they have the intent of just immediately going back to what they were doing, but over time you kind of learn how much it's worth to you, and that that lifestyle change is really where you need to end up if you want to feel significantly better, often times.
Remember, not all the symptoms are always related to food allergies, always great to check with your local practitioner, medical doctor, naturopaths, whoever, to check out those symptoms and make sure that there isn't a larger underlying cause for what's going on. Food allergies are really mostly related to chronic symptoms and issues that have been there for years or decades, that you're interested in potentially resolving with diet.
Okay, all right, let's jump on in here. So, why would we want to do an elimination diet? As we mentioned before, the symptoms in video number one, which can be related to GI stuff, right? We talked about diarrhea, constipation, nausea, gas and bloating, cramping.
But it can also relate to a much wider variety of symptoms, where we get into nervous system disfunction, with insomnia or stress, feeling like you're wired all the time. We get into mood issues, where we've got fatigue and lethargy with energy, and then we've got anxiety, depression, anger, any kind of type of emotional spectrum issue. We've also got muscle and joint pain that might be related. Skin issues. All kinds of these things that might be part of a food allergy issue.
Your body does not just create these. I think that's something we have been kind of trained to think about, western medicine wise, because if we have these vague symptoms, nobody can really offer us any answers. But, why on earth would the body make you uncomfortable for no reason? That doesn't make any sense.
From a naturopathic perspective, we believe that the body is inherently intelligent. It has a healing force its own, it's called the vital force, or the vis, and its own innate ability to heal. You can see that if you cut your hand, for instance, and it heals on its own. We're not directing it, we're not telling it how to heal, it just does it. And that principle can be applied throughout the entire body. If you give it a shot, it will do it.
Symptoms are also very energy expensive. They're quite intense to produce. It takes a lot of energy that your body would probably much rather spend repairing, digesting, sleeping, all these wonderful things that help you maintain health. But if something is out of balance enough that it is creating these symptoms to get your attention, that's telling you, wow, I really need to pay attention to this, right?
There's so much energy being put towards that that's creating this headache, or this joint pain, rather than actually me being balanced, and healthy, and healing. It's something important to pay attention to. It's never random. The body doesn't just create it. There's always a root cause to it. And that's part of why the elimination diet, and looking at these larger food changes, can be so massively life changing for people, if that's really at the root of what's going on for them.
So, we're looking at healing your GI and decreasing inflammation overall. Those are some great benefits of the elimination diet, right? We talked about in the last video, with leaky gut potentially, where we've got so much inflammation over time, it actually allows food particles to migrate across that should not, and then those kind of settle in either joints, or the nervous system, or whatever else, and create those systemic symptoms. If we take out the irritant, our GI can heal.
Again, that's that innate healing property of the body. If you remove the irritant, the body will clean it up. It's a beautiful process. And that's what's so amazing about the elimination diet, too, is that people have been eating or drinking something that's been irritating them for decades. If they take it out of their diet, your body can literally shift and down regulate and get rid of those symptoms within days.
Which, if you think about it, is amazing. After years and years of this inflammatory input, that is how much your body wants to heal. As soon as that trigger is removed, it does it. It's pretty amazing, when you think about it. It's fantastic. And then, decreasing inflammation overall. That's how we get to that lowering inflammation load, our body can actually heal, and then if there's not irritants, it doesn't need to produce more inflammation to cause more symptoms to get our attention. The louder the symptoms are, the more we're not paying attention. And oftentimes, the less we want to pay attention, so the body just continues to yell and yell and yell.
And then, we want to resolve, if possible, sensitivities and intolerances. Like we talked about in the other video, usually sensitivities are the easier ones to resolve, that immune reaction, because it doesn't always have to react if we get that inflammation level down, depending on what's going on. Intolerances could be either way.
An intolerance is that you really don't have that mechanism to actually digest the food, so if you're lactose intolerant, you're never gonna actually produce that lactase enzyme. But if there are other intolerances that maybe aren't linked to that, maybe they are caused by this inflammatory picture, then those intolerances might be able to resolve. So, it all depends. But these are great reasons to try to dive into the elimination diet.
So, let's look at why not is a good idea. Why it's not a good idea to do an elimination diet. So, as a cleanse, which I put in quotes again. Cleanses are very frustrating. I did talk about them in my BEST Way to Detox video, which I specifically say is not via a cleanse or supplement, so feel free to check that out if you'd like. I'll put a link to it below the video for you. But the cleanses are really, again, it's a short term fix, and that's not what this is about.
This is a massive lifestyle change. Doesn't have to be massive, but often can be, with great results. But it reminded me of this because my husband and I were talking, and he had seen a post in his Facebook feed about a girl doing Whole30, which is a form, it's kind of like an elimination diet. They do take out a lot of similar things, but they don't really brand it as an elimination diet.
She was posting about, oh my gosh I'm in the last two days of my Whole30, and I can't wait to eat doughnuts and coffee in two days. And we were both like, all right, that's not really how it works. That's not the point. If you've taken things out and you're feeling better, why would you want to add them back in? And that's that really short term cleanse mentality, that for seven days or thirty days I'm gonna take this out of my diet, I'm gonna "cleanse" so I have less burden, and then I can just add things back in, it'll be fine.
That's not how it works. It never works that way. If you have a constant irritant, it is going to continue irritating the body. It depends on how large that irritant is, and how many other irritants are in the system. But I just wanted to emphasize that that is not the point of an elimination diet. It's not this short term fix. You can do it that way, if you mentally know that you're gonna kind of add things back in. But at least be open to learning about why you feel better with that, and consider doing a reintroduction as well, which we'll get to at the end.
And also, not really looking at the elimination diet for weight loss. In my last video, I did say that unintended weight gain can be caused by food sensitivities and intolerances, but weight loss should never be the primary goal. It should really be, I want to be healthier, I want to feel better, I want to get rid of these other symptoms.
Often times weight loss is the last thing to shift, if we've got larger pictures going on, larger issues. Just because the weight that our body retains is looked at as a resource. It's energy that can be burned for fuel. So, if we're deficient in some ways, or we're fighting other battles with chronic inflammation, there's no way the body is gonna want to let go of that weight, because it looks at is as like, hey, I've got this energy reserve in case I need more, because I'm devoting so much energy to these other things, I need that there as a resource in case.
So, weight loss will happen, but again, it's usually the last thing that happens, which is frustrating, I understand. But it's also nice to know that if it does happen, wow, you have really healed up a lot of other issues that were going on internally. So, it can happen on an elimination diet, but it's not a great thing to look at as this is why I want to do it.
Especially since if that's your primary goal and it doesn't happen on the timetable you think it should happen on, then you'll say, oh no the elimination diet didn't work for me. And that's not true, it's just that your body was cleaning up some other things, most likely, if you have some food sensitivities and intolerances, and again that weight takes a very long time to shift sometimes for people, depending on individual metabolism and all kinds of other things. So yeah, not a primary goal. It can happen, hang in there, but probably not the first thing to shift for you.
So, how long do we want to do the elimination diet? We want to do it a minimum of six weeks. If you are my patient watching this, I am sorry. I usually hedge my bets. I get really nervous telling people six weeks, because it's a long time. I usually say like four weeks, or three weeks, if you can. But truthfully, six weeks.
And I will endeavor to just do that more so. Anyway, a little bit, I feel really bad for people. Because I do understand that this is a very difficult thing to do. I totally get that, and I try to really approach it with a lot of compassion and empathy, because I have eliminated a ton of food allergies myself, and had a long road to figure out what my actual irritants are, and I'm probably still in the process. I understand that it's a difficult thing to do. Six weeks though, really if you can commit to it, fabulous. And gluten really does need to be out, especially that long, because it tends to have really far reaching effects on the nervous system in particular.
You often see positive shifts before this point in your symptoms, but the idea is as well that we bring down that inflammatory load. It gets to a new normal, which you know, old normal is here, new normal is way down here, which is great. And then you actually allow your GI to heal if you continue to avoid those foods for at least six weeks.
And for some people, this isn't enough. It depends on what's going on, again, what the total body burden is, how long the inflammation is going on, what else is inflamed, what's being suppressed by medications, potentially. It's very complex, and that's why it's really lovely to have somebody help guide you through it, or to do research on your own and get some books or watch these videos, or whatever you find helpful, to help you move through this process. Because it is not always clear, or easy. The body is not cut and dry that way.
So, really trying for the six weeks, and then you do want to follow your symptoms. That is the most important thing. If you are still having symptoms after six weeks that you believe are related to food allergies or sensitivities, you need to keep that food out longer. It's really important. This is the end all be all. Timelines are arbitrary with this thing. Our whole point in doing the elimination diet is to resolve some of these long term chronic symptoms that may be related to food allergies or sensitivities, intolerances. So, if your symptoms have not shifted as much, or ideally, we want to see them completely resolve in that time.
So, if they've shifted, great. You're on the right track, that's fabulous. But you definitely want to wait until things are totally quieted down. And it might be that maybe you didn't eliminate everything you needed to, or that there's just a lot of stuff to move on out that your body is working on. So just respect that process for yourself.
And again, really, if you're looking at this as a lifestyle change, that should not be a problem, right? The time frame. It should be okay, great, that's when I should start to have resolved most of my symptoms, or have seen the most improvement by that point, which is probably true for most people. But it's a lifestyle change. You should be mentally prepared to be on this for three months, six months, a year, two years, whatever works. Not without exception, but that's okay, just looking at the big picture that way.
So, what do we eliminate? This is a big list. Hold on. Don't get too worried. So, this I took from one of my favorite books that I will share with you at the end. It is called The Elimination Diet, pretty simple. He said, through clinically and through a lot of his own research, he is a clinical nutritionist, these are the biggest ones that came up. I do really agree with this list. The ones that I have starred are the ones that I recommend the most to my patients.
So, that's kind of my elimination diet, you can see it's a little bit less comprehensive than his. If you want to go full on comprehensive, fabulous. That is wonderful. You're probably gonna get the best results, if I'm being honest, if you do all of that. I just find this a little bit difficult for people, especially the gluten and the dairy, because they're in everything, and if you're eating processed foods, sugar and corn are in so much.
That's the hard part about the elimination diet, once you really start looking at this, pretty much all convenience foods go away. So that's something you really have to look at. Even at my natural grocery store, something that's gluten free will have dairy in it, or eggs in it. And something that's dairy free will have gluten in it, or soy. So, it's tough.
There's not always a lot of food allergy consciousness, especially if you're looking at all of these. Usually, people choose one, and then they fill it in with the others, other allergens. So, you do have to be really careful and just realize that it is gonna be a lot of food prep for yourself, and that's a big change for a lot of people.
And the really important thing here too is, if you have things that you suspect you are sensitive to, take them out. If they're on this list, if they're not on this list. I didn't really include any nightshades on here, which nightshades, the typical symptom pattern that goes along with them is joint pain. And nightshades again are eggplants, potato, pepper, tomato. So, if you have joint and muscle pain, nightshades are a really good one to look at. Not always the case for joint pain and nightshades all the time, but a lot of the time it is.
So, again, this is where it gets kind of individually complex. Because you are not a cookbook, it's not A+B=C. It is listening to yourself and figuring out what can happen. I think part of this, too, is that I will talk to people about not doing all of these at once. Instead, adding them over time. So that's another option as well.
Yeah, so you can do that. It's just, that six week minimum needs to be there. All things need to be out for a minimum of six weeks. But, you don't have to do it just in six weeks. You can do it over the course of three months if you need to, if it takes a long time to get gluten out, okay. That's fine. Once you've got gluten out, move on to the next one and take that out. That, I find, sometimes is a little bit more manageable for people. Especially with families, or if they're really busy, can be just really tough and overwhelming to do all of this at once.
So, you can kind of put things in, or take things out, over time, but you just have to be conscious of getting to a point where you have everything out, and then that's your start clock for the six weeks or so. So, again, follow what you think you might be sensitive to on this list. You can do all of them, you can do just the ones I have starred, figure out what you think might be an issue. The ones I have starred I see are the most common that I've seen for people, and have the largest reaction.
The other way to do this too is, some people like this, not many, but it's for a select few. Really enjoy, like, they just want this simplified. They don't want anything else going on, they just want to know what they can eat, right? And we're gonna get to a little bit more of that as well.
There's an elimination diet that's only four foods, and they're typically non allergenic foods. So, lamb, sweet potato, a type of bean, usually, and adzuki is a good one, and then pear. So, those four foods tend to make up, that can make up your entire diet for the six weeks. That is a little rough for most people. It can be tough.
Yeah, I think beans or quinoa, maybe. I'll look it up for you to write it down. But that is kind of for the people that just don't want to mess with it, and want to know exactly what they can eat. It would be a little tiresome, but sometimes people want to do that. So, you can go this route and kind of parse things out this way, or you can do that four food elimination diet as well.
So, okay, what do I eliminate? We've covered that. These are the big ones. Alcohol just tends to be inflammatory. Adding on top of that, coffee tends to be extremely inflammatory for people, and it's really important to maybe take a look at those, just because again, with this, we are trying to lower the inflammatory load enough.
And if we don't lower it enough, we're still gonna have symptoms. So, it is really important. Coffee, especially, for women, can be very irritating to the reproductive system. So, it is something to consider. Take this in, see what makes sense to you, see what's doable. Develop a plan that is doable for yourself, whether that's going all in at once and taking it all out, or if you need to do it over time, that's also acceptable. Again, this is all about learning about yourself and what your symptoms are like.
One part I really want to focus on, because it's called the elimination diet, we don't often focus on what can you eat? There's a lot you can eat. This looked like, this is a big list, right? But there's so much that is not in these food groups, or part of these foods, that you can eat, and they're just less eaten by people, I think, because these foods that you eliminate are most often easily put in packaged and convenience foods. These foods generally require a little bit more prep for yourself.
And that's kind of all what the elimination diet is, too, right? You not only feel better, but you learn to cook. So, two for one. It's good. But I just wanted to focus on a few of maybe the new things that you would be eating or putting in your diet, so you don't feel like, oh my god what do I eat? And the books that I'm gonna share with you really help out with that quite a bit too. But I just wanted to give you a little preview here.
So, grains. My favorite grains are rice, oats, and quinoa. People tend to do pretty well on all of those. Quinoa is lovely, it's high in protein, it's very quick to make, it's only about fifteen minutes of prep time. It's high in protein, so that's really lovely. You don't often have to add any other protein to it. It keeps well, it's easy to take places.
It does absorb a lot of flavor when you cook with it, so just FYI, maybe some more seasoning with it. Rice, I really like rice. Unless you have some blood sugar issues, which usually are not triggered by rice unless you're eating just rice, by itself.
So yeah, rice with protein and fat, totally fine. I actually prefer jasmine rice to white rice, and jasmine especially to brown rice. Brown rice can be very harsh on the colon, and the bran that we think is good and healthy for us, it can be irritating to the colon, and it actually takes more nutrients to break down and get to that inner kernel than it gives to us. So, I usually encourage people to do white rice, and in particular, little bonus tip, I like to cook it with some oil.
There's a really interesting article that came out that I'll try to link to that shows that that's usually how it's traditionally prepared, with either oil or butter. It decreases the glycemic load of the rice, and it kind of changes the structure of the carbohydrates a bit, I'm probably saying that wrong, but it does. It changes the way we absorb and digest it, which I thought was super fascinating. So, I always cook it with a couple tablespoons of fat now.
And oats. So, oats, when you look up gluten free resources, oats are always listed as having gluten. However, oats don't inherently have gluten, it's just that often times they are processed in a gluten containing facility. So, there are versions of oats that are gluten free oats, so you could certainly get gluten free oats. My favorite brand is Bob's Red Mill for that, they do a great job with old fashioned rolled oats, or steel cut oats. But oats are wonderful, and especially if we're looking at a GI that's been inflamed, they're super soothing and nourishing and healing to the GI. So, oatmeal is one of my very favorite foods for people on the elimination diet. Making sure you get some protein and fat in there too.
So, fat, right? Fat, almost any type of fat, great on the elimination diet. Besides dairy fat, usually, and the fat in eggs. So, Ghee is a really important one to look at. Ghee is just clarified butter. It's available at most natural grocery stores, and it comes in a lot of different flavors now. I'll put a link to my favorite one at the end for you.
But because it's clarified butter, it has the allergenic substances from dairy filtered out. So, it's clarified, it is not gonna be reactive for you. It's a really nice solid animal fat substitute for you. You could also do duck fat, rendered duck fat. I didn't write that one down, but delicious. A little earthier, but also really rich and unctuous, and lovely. The elimination diet is not about lowering fat content, and just eating lots of carbs, which we think about as healthy eating. Not at all. I'm actually a big fan of a lot of fat for people.
And one thing I forgot to mention too, about the elimination diet, is that it has nothing, absolutely nothing to do with calories. There is no calorie restriction we're talking about, and I would really advise you not to do that, because calorie restriction lowers your basil metabolic rates. You're gonna be burning less calories anyway. In the future I hope to do a couple videos about that. So, stay tuned.
So, the elimination diet is not anything about calories. We're just looking at foods. Often times calories are effected because you're eating a totally different quality, right? And the elimination diet is also of the mindset that a calorie in is not just a calorie out. There are different qualities of calories as well. There's empty calories we get from processed junk food that causes inflammation and some of these allergic symptoms we might have, and then there's the nutrient dense calories from these foods we're gonna talk about, that are really anti inflammatory, soothing, and healing.
That's what we're focusing on a little bit more here, too. So, again, non traditional diet. Ghee, duck fat, olive oil, avocado, great. Fabulous. Avocado will be your best friend. Coconut will be really, really your best friend. Best buds. Especially with dairy out, there are so many recipes on the internet for substituting dairy with coconut, because it's non allergenic.
A lot of people think, well if dairy is out, I'm gonna go to soy. And soy is actually quite allergenic for most people. So, moving down the list. And then rice, like rice milk, it's basically sugar. It has very little nutritional value for you. Almond milk can be great, but full fat coconut milk is richer and thicker, and delicious and satiating, because it's higher in fat. Really lovely. And I have a chocolate coconut pudding that's elimination diet friendly if you're not taking chocolate out that I will link to as well.
And then we've got fish, the cold water fish especially, the fatty fish like salmon and cod. You want to make sure they're wild cod, because the farmed fish are extremely high in Omega-6s, and very inflammatory fat. So, wild caught fish only. But even looking at the smaller, oiler fishes, would be fabulous. Like anchovies, sardines, smelt, mackerel.
All of these things would be fabulous to add in. And other types of fish too, you just want to be mindful of the mercury content in fish, with those big ones. Like tuna especially, swordfish, Chilean sea bass, off the top of my head. Those are all larger fish, so they have larger amount of mercury. Generally, the smaller the fish, the less accumulation of heavy metals and mercury.
And then, we've got meat as well. We only took out beef and pork, potentially. So we've still got chicken, which I would encourage you to do chicken thighs or roasted chicken, or eat it with the skin on, all that good fat for satiation. Lamb, lovely and fatty and rich. Yeah, those are just a couple examples. But those are great. More of what you can eat. Veggies. Whole category of foods. So many vegetables you've probably never explored.
Leafy greens, I think we think of, of course, with lettuce, and we get into kale and chard and all that, and I think people kind of get that. I think that's probably the impression of the elimination diet, is just eating kale all the time. I do eat kale, and you do eat kale on the elimination diet, but it does not have to be the end all be all of your vegetable consumption, and it shouldn't be.
We've got root vegetables, right, would be fabulous. Sweet potatoes, totally fine. Sweet potato and potato are not related in the way that they would cause a reaction. So, if you have to take nightshades out, sweet potatoes totally fine. It's just white potato that you want out, and purple potato. Root vegetables. Explore these. We've got celery root, which tastes like celery. We've got turnips, we've got beets, parsnips, rutabaga.
All of this stuff that maybe you've heard your grandparents have cooked, and you've never touched. Delicious and great, and these different starches from root vegetables really do wonders for the bacteria in our large intestine, and helping them to ferment foods properly into great fatty acids that we need. Yeah, so root vegetables are great.
Herbs, right? We've got a wide selection. Very flavorful and delicious, so feel free to use those as much as possible. Squash is another great example. Butternut, summer squash, all that good stuff. And cruciferous veggies. So, we've got the brassica family, right, the kale, the broccoli, the cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage. I especially love cabbage, and I just did a video on sauerkraut that you can check out. I will link to you. But fermented foods would be a fabulous addition to the elimination diet, because again, they're very GI healing and anti inflammatory. So, plenty more veggies that I didn't mention. But there's a ton that we can experiment with, right?
And then fruit as well. Most fruit, we did say maybe we want to get rid of citrus on the elimination diet, but most fruit is fine. Like melon, apples, pears, berries especially, bananas. All kinds of stuff. Again, experiment with some fruits that maybe you've never gotten to eat. Mango, papaya. Those are nice, because they're a little more calorically dense than some of the other fruits. But there's so much to look at and experiment with when you do the elimination diet. It's pretty amazing.
Again, the books that I will show you really give you a lot of good recipes to follow and to see how this goes for you. You're not gonna be on your own, I'm not just gonna throw out all these foods and just, put them together. There are recipes that you can follow, and then it's great. I think it's very frustrating to look up recipes and then try to take things out and adapt them, rather than just starting with a recipe that's gluten, dairy, soy, egg, whatever else free. It's way better that way, and so much more satisfying. I think you'll really enjoy doing that.
Last step is the reintroduction phase. So, this one can be pretty complicated. Again, it's not always cut and dry, so it's really important to be patient and to listen as much as you can to your body. This is also one that you don't have to do. Some people just feel way better, and they're like, I am leaving this stuff out. I am not messing with it, we're done here. However, if you do want to know what you're sensitive to, or how sensitive you are to it, this is a good way to go, especially, you know, social engagements will come up. Sometimes it's nice to know, can I eat anything there, or should I just plan on bringing my own food? Which is a very real thing to do.
Let's dive in to reintroduction. So, how do I reintroduce? This is only after the minimum six weeks, or your symptoms are gone, that you want to reintroduce things. So, you do one food at a time. This is really important. This is not a, I want to reintroduce something, so I'm gonna reintroduce birthday cake. That's not a good way to go, right? Because that probably has gluten, diary, corn, soy, sugar, eggs, everything in it. So, you really have to be diligent and eat this food in the purest state possible. So, if it's an egg, literally an egg.
Dairy is particularly difficult, because it's three components that you might want to test. We've got lactose, which is highest in soft dairy products, like soft cheeses, milk, yogurt, ice cream. You've got casein, which is highest in hard cheeses. And then we've got whey. Sometimes you're gonna want to test all those separately.
So, you can see this reintroduction phase can be very frustrating, because it takes a long time with all these different components. So, you're gonna want to choose, and I will put a list for you at the end, what typical food reintroductions look like in terms of quantity, because we're gonna talk about you want to eat a good quantity, and then when you want to do it.
The timing is usually, you want to eat it ten to fifteen minutes before your meal, because the idea with the reintroduction is that we are creating a reaction. We want to see if we're gonna react to this food. So there's no nibbling and then saying oh, I'm fine. I didn't react at all. Not true, because it could cause a low level of inflammation, and then you're gonna have false information, you're gonna start eating the food, and then two weeks later you're gonna be like why do I feel awful? The elimination diet didn't work, I don't get it. Not true. It's just that reintroduction is tricky, and you do have to eat a fair amount of it. So, that really means like, an ounce of cheese, or an entire egg, or a slice of wheat bread. It's not a small amount of food, usually.
We want to eat a good quantity of food, three times a day. So, you want to, you're really trying to trigger this reaction. And you can see why some people want to skip this, because that's really uncomfortable. Why would you want to recreate the symptoms that have gone, and you feel better?
So again, it's a very individual decision, and maybe you're only gonna test certain things because you're sure you react to some things, and you're not quite sure about others, so you might as well test the others. And then, you want to eat it three times a day, unless you react. If you react with the first egg that you have a day, or whatever it is, don't kill yourself and try to eat it three times a day. We know there's a reaction. That's the whole point of reintroduction.
So, this is the hardest part of reintroduction, is that often times we do not have that immediate reaction. Remember, with food sensitivities and intolerances, it's usually a delayed response. Which means it can be delayed up to 72 hours, and sometimes longer. So you have to watch for the return of your symptoms, that's what that stands for, symptoms. Whatever that is. Whatever physical things you've been tracking, which is always a really nice idea to do.
I would highly recommend a log of your reactions when you reintroduce. You want to note what time you ate things, your mood, how much water you were drinking, if you're feeling sick, what symptoms come back in. Because all of this can effect the reintroduction. Sometimes, your reintroduction symptoms, you feel sick and then you don't know, am I getting a cold or is this from a food? And it takes a few days to figure out.
Or, you get sick in the middle of a reintroduction, and you're like, well I don't know if corn is a problem. I got sick. So then you have to start over and do it again. And that's where the reintroduction, it's not crystal clear. Especially if you've got a lot of stress going on in your life, that can really muddle the picture as well. So, it's a lot of patience and a lot of redoing it sometimes, if you want a clearer picture.
So you have to wait for at least 72 hours to see if those symptoms come up, and that's why you keep this journal. Because you're clearly gonna have eaten other things in the meantime, but you only eat it three times a day, that one day, and then you wait. And then it's out again for the remainder of that 72 hours, you track, you see if those symptoms that went away come back. Joint pain, fatigue, GI stuff, whatever it is for you.
If they do, okay, you're sensitive to the food. You've got an answer, it needs to be left out. If they do not come back, then it's likely that you're not that sensitive to that food, which is great, good news. And then the last part here is that we need to wait the minimum 72 hours before you try another food. However, if you still have symptoms from this flareup that happened with this food, and it can go on for a while, it can go on for a week.
You cannot reintroduce another food until you're back to the baseline. It's got to be very kind of scientific this way. Otherwise, you can cause, you're gonna have a muddled reaction. You're not gonna know what happened from this next food, or if it was the after effects of what was going on there on the last reaction. So, again, patience and listening is really, really key with the reintroduction phase, and again, it is the hardest, and I think you can probably see why it's the hardest here.
Lot of interpretation, a lot of listening, a lot of very specific things. But very worthwhile if you would really like to know what your intolerances or sensitivities are. And, depending on the severity of reaction, that will tell you possibly how long you have to avoid things. If it's severe, you might be away from them for months or years. If it's not as severe, it might be a few months, and then you can retest it again, and maybe you'll be fine. And that's the beauty of healing up the GI.
But it's a constant give and take, and a constant kind of test and retest, and see where you are and what happens, and just being willing to reexamine things. Especially even if things you felt like you could add in, and then you start feeling bad again, you really ... it's not black or white. It's a very gray area that just takes you learning about yourself over time.
See, we're almost done here. So, how to reintroduce. Right, oh, I put in ... sorry, this is the last one. Right. Like we said, results are not always clear. It can be a frustrating process, it can be a difficult process, but incredibly worthwhile to explore and maybe have relief from things that have been happening for your entire life, and issues that you may have had since childhood. I'm sure you know that, and I'm sure that's why you're watching these videos.
And because the results aren't always clear, and there's so many different hiccups, that's what I want to cover in my last video for you, where I'm gonna talk about the most common hiccups and mistakes that I see people make in this process of understanding their sensitivities, intolerances, the elimination diet, reintroduction, the whole thing. So, yeah, stay tuned for that next week.
Okay guys, I just wanted to talk to you about my favorite books for the elimination diet, and resources. So, the first one is called The Elimination Diet. It's really lovely, really helpful, lots of great food information, lots of what we covered in the first video, but in text so you can just read it and check it out. They take you through elimination and reintroduction, they have recipes in here, I love this couple. He is a nutritionist and she is a chef, so it's really great. They do a fabulous job. I love this book. It's on Amazon, it's really only about sixteen bucks. Totally worth your time to check this one out.
And then, this is my other favorite one, which is by the same couple, The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook. It's focused on gluten free, dairy free, soy free, and egg free recipes. So, major allergens are out. They even talk about fermented foods, they have everything you could possibly want in here. Breakfast, lunch, dessert, kids. I believe they have five kids, so they really do a lot of nutritional work for kids this way too. And they have a great blog as well, which is called Nourishing Meals, that I'll link to too, along with one of my other favorite blogs for recipes, called Tasty Yummies. They both do an amazing job. So you really want to set yourself up for success with a lot of great resources, and I found these two books incredibly helpful, and I hope you do too. Okay, thanks so much for watching. Take care.
Full Transcript for Video #3
Hi, I'm Dr. Liz Carter, and welcome to part three of my three-part series, Figuring Out Your Food Allergies.
Now, if you missed part one, which is all about what food allergies actually are and how to test for them, and part two, which is all about my favorite way to treat food allergies, you probably want to go back and check those out first. Today, we're going to cover the most common mistakes I see people make when they try to treat their own food allergies and what to do about that. Okay. Thanks so much for joining me.
We are in our third and final part of our Figuring Out Your Food Allergies series. Part three, the most common mistakes people make when dealing with their food allergies, so we want to deal or jump into some of the common miss or difficulties that people have with food allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances, what comes along with that in terms of treatment.
In video one, we covered what the allergies are and what sensitivities and intolerances are. In video two, we talked about the main free treatment to do that you can do on your own, which is the elimination diet, and here, I want to cover the common mistakes that happen on the elimination diet, but also just in general when dealing with food sensitivities and intolerances, so let's dive right on in here. Okay.
We'll cover why you shouldn't go cold turkey, which might be confusing, but I will explain that in a little bit here, why partial elimination doesn't work. This is a big one. Cheating with food in time, how to handle that, what happens when it comes up for people because it almost inevitably will, missteps in reintroduction. This is a big one. In video two, we talked about reintroduction, which is the least talked about part of the elimination diet, and again, not essential to do which we'll talk about a little bit more here when we deal with the missteps that come up, but an important part of the diet to address that often just is not addressed, and then trusting testing.
What I mean by testing is the allergy test that you would get done at the office of a Western medical doc, so like the skin testing or RAST testing or the food sensitivity test that you often take with a naturopath or that might be available online right now. I've seen a few ads for them but I haven't checked them out, which is interesting, your own little test kit, plus, my number one piece of advice because let's face it, dealing with food sensitivities and intolerances is really, really challenging.
It often challenges our deepest beliefs about ourself as crazy as that sounds, but food is really tied to the core of us. It can be tied in the family structure where food is nourishment, food is love even which that it has a lot of emotional connections and pieces tied to it there, and yeah, it's just a really challenging thing for us to look at, and a lot of times while we're on the diet, it can be challenging for other people to accept that we're trying to make these changes.
That's one of the most challenging things I think is that other people will sometimes take these changes we're making personally if you decline wanting a brownie or that ice cream or whatever it is that's offered at social gatherings, so it's a challenging process to navigate.
It involves not just the physical issues with food and allergy elimination, but mental and emotional, very deeply rooted, and for most people, at the core of food allergies is really looking at self-worth and "Am I good enough?" Right? It ties all back into self-care because looking at food sensitivities and intolerances ... Sorry. I know. I just said allergies there.
I generally mean sensitivities and intolerances, is really looking at at this core piece of "How can I take care of myself better?" Right? If I've got something that's irritating, it needs to come out. Right? I need to heal.
I need to allow my body to do that, but most of us have a lot of really intense hang ups about actually allowing ourselves that, whether it'd be we don't believe we can heal, we don't believe we should feel that good, we don't believe we should make the time for ourselves to actually make that process happen that other people are more important.
All of those things come in to dealing with food allergies, so there's this huge mental and emotional piece that should not be discounted. It should be something that you are prepared for when you go into food allergies and I think it's not an often talked about piece and I should have put it on what we'd cover, but we're covering it right now. I think that's a big part of it. Don't underestimate that piece and it might even inspire you to get some counseling, get some support, make sure your family is onboard.
Oftentimes, the allergy elimination stuff or food sensitivities and intolerances is much easier to do if other people in your household are doing it along with you or if you live alone and have a buddy help you out with it because it can be very tough if you're not the one who mainly controls the food. Maybe you're not the cook in the family or you've got kids and you're worried about, "I have to make one meal for myself and a meal for them". It can just be really tough, and those are all important things to think about ahead of time. All right. I'm getting a little ahead of myself, so why don't we jump into this first common issue that people have, so going cold turkey.
By this of a cold turkey, I don't mean taking everything out because that's exactly what you want to do. By cold turkey, I mean maybe you're watching this video series, and we're in the last one, and you're like, "Okay. I'm pumped. I get it. I'm going to get the books."
"I'm going to go through with this, but it does take a while to get here from Amazon or wherever I ordered them, so I'm just going to dive in. I'm going to do this tomorrow. I can't stand it anymore. I've clearly got things that need to be addressed. Let's do it."
I love the enthusiasm. It's amazing and fabulous, but it often, it is ill-fated because this type of thing requires these big, massive changes, and that does not happen overnight as much as we wanted to. Instead of channeling that enthusiasm towards like just doing it overnight and diving in, and then you end up tomorrow just eating lettuce, and carrots, and random pieces of, I don't know, nuts or something because you have nothing to eat, channel that enthusiasm into some planning, so we can see that with this cold turkey just diving in immediately. We get this lack of planning that happens. We don't know what we're doing. We don't have anything to eat.
Again, when we dive into the elimination diet, we quickly realize that almost every convenience food we've relied on, even the ones that natural grocery stores are off the table because they almost always have some sort of allergic or sensitivity contamination. Things that are dairy-free will have gluten or egg or soy.
Things that are gluten-free commonly have eggs, among other things or dairy, so it's really important to plan ahead to make sure, and you are just going to set yourself up for success because it can be really demoralizing if you're feeling great and enthusiastic, and then you don't plan ahead enough, and you fall off the wagon within two or three days because you're cholerically starved, because you've barely eaten anything, and then you feel like you're a failure or the elimination diet is a failure, and really it's just backing it up, taking some time before you dive into really get your ducks in a row, so we don't go towards this overwhelm, and then failure, this just, "Oh my God. I don't know what to do. I don't even know what to buy at the grocery store anymore. I don't know how to put recipes together", and then falling off the wagon immediately. And sometimes it's really difficult to just pick yourself right back up pretty quickly if you've fallen off the wagon.
Again, we really want to plan carefully. That extra time and effort you take will pay off in spades. Channel that enthusiasm into researching recipes, coming up with grocery lists, talking to your family about what this can do, talking to your kids about like, "Oh, what's something you might like to eat? Here we are", getting those menus really thought out and planned and coming up with breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, all of this. It's a massive or can be a massive overhaul because oftentimes, these foods that we have sensitivities or intolerances to are really in our diet three meals a day, maybe even more, so it's really, really important just to take your time and make an effort for yourself.
It will lead to much more success for you. Okay. Let's move on to the second mistake that people make. We've got partial elimination. Partial elimination is something that I see really commonly.
It happens quite a bit when people, they don't take everything out that they should because it seems easier where it's like, "You know, I can't handle taking gluten out right now, so I'm just going to take dairy out and maybe eggs". That type of thing. This is fine if you eventually reach that mark where everything is out at the same time, and then you start your clock then for that six-week time period. However, a lot of people will just take things out partially, and then they won't feel that much better, and then they'll say, "Oh, man. This didn't work for me. I don't know what the deal is."
What happens in the partial elimination is that there is residual inflammation, so if we think about it where we've got this baseline of inflammation right about here, and then we've got this inflammatory load that we're carrying around with all these things we're sensitive to or intolerant of. Let's say we take dairy off the top, and that lowers us to this amount, but we still got all of this inflammation left, and then, that's when we decided like, "You know, I don't feel that much better. This isn't working for me. I'm clearly not sensitive to dairy", when really, you are.
You lowered the inflammation load, but you didn't lower it enough to get it back to baseline, and that's why this full elimination of everything that you think you could be sensitive to is so crucial. You'd have to reset the baseline inflammatory load, and then, that's also what happens when you've done that for the reintroduction picture.
It's much clearer. You have a stronger response because your inflammatory load is so much less. If you eat something that you're sensitive to or intolerant of, your body is going to let you know most of the time.
Again, that depends on the severity of the intensity or intolerance, and that's why again food allergies can be so complicated because sometimes it's very obvious, and other times it's not, and you only become sensitive if you eat it everyday for a week or two. That's a lot more subtle and more difficult to figure out, so it takes some time to really move through all of this.
Of course, the solution is to commit to that full elimination for yourself. Right? That's why the planning is so important. Just go ahead and do it. Make sure that you really are going to take out everything that you want to take out, and again, in video number two, I covered the list of common things that I recommend and a list that one of my favorite books called 'The Elimination Diet' recommends that you take out, which is a bit more comprehensive.
Again, you can do it over time. You don't have to take everything out all at once, but you do have to get to the point where it is all out for at least six weeks or until those symptoms come down and aren't present anymore assuming those symptoms are related to food allergies, and that's why it takes a lot of patience and a lot of learning to listen to yourself, understanding what symptoms have gone away, and how you're feeling, and that's why it's very nice before starting the elimination diet to write down all of the things you're experiencing. That is only a partial solution sometimes because a lot of times, these things are things that we've adapted to. We don't even pay attention to them anymore or we don't realize how tired we are or that our joints are aching all the time.
Then, once the foods are gone, you can feel the difference and it's like, "Oh, okay. All right. That's right. I was dealing with that", and that's the magic and wonderfulness of discovering your sensitivities and intolerances if you have them. Okay.
Yeah. Definitely no partial elimination. You got to go full bore there. Cheating with food or time is another really common mistake people make. What I mean by that with cheating with foods would be let's say you've done a really good job.
You've done the full elimination. You've taken everything out. It has not been six weeks, and you're like, "You know what? I'll just do a little dabble of that there", and maybe it is a pure food. Maybe it's just a little bit of wheat bread or just an egg or whatever it is, and you're like, "Oh, that's totally fine. No big deal", and really unfortunately, that does muddle what your results are because your body in that six-week time period is still cleaning up those inflammation levels, and when you keep pinging it with this food that causes inflammation, it's going to delay that clean up.
Right? It's going to take more time and resources for your body to clean up that inflammation rather than heal your G.I. lining. Right? Really, especially in that first video like we talked about if there's a leaky gut that's developed, it takes time for that membrane to heal and to seal back up, and if you keep pinging it with stuff that irritates it, it's just going to continue to be leaky, and then you're not going to get the results that you're looking for. What I'm trying to say here is it really does matter that it's clean and that it's out for six weeks, and if there is a slip up, okay.
Great. You're human. That's probably going to happen. Maybe there's a social event. Start the clock over, and then move forward from those six weeks. It really can make a difference and clarify things for you down the road, so the cheating really, it really does matter.
It spikes that inflammation back up. You might have symptoms come back immediately. You might not because your body is still cleaning up the rest of that inflammatory load, so it's kind of massed. That response could be massed by the rest of the inflammation that's still there, which is why it's confusing. If you have a little bit of something and you're like, "Oh, I'm totally fine. There must not be a problem", again, that inflammation load does not come down to that new baseline yet. It's slowly working its way down.
Then, cheating with time is what I was talking about before where you're just not going that full six weeks. You're like, "Oh, I can't make it. It's too much. It's too hard", and that unfortunately is this short-term thinking or mindset maybe like a cleanse or a diet or whatever. "I'm just going to give it a shot for a month, and then be done with it".
It really has to be this larger lifestyle change, and this really gets into that mental emotional piece I was talking about where you are challenging your deepest beliefs about yourself, whether or not you deserve to heal, whether or not you deserve to feel better, and this is a very, very common form of self-sabotage.
All of these mistakes are that you will go towards in order to prove to yourself, "I can't do it" or "I can't feel better" or "I can't heal", and you absolutely can, but that's why this lifestyle change is so challenging because it's dealing with all of these issues all at once and it's a massive learning process and it's really difficult, and I feel for you. I've done this several times myself in many ways and been incredibly frustrated and haven't been listening, and then when I do, it clears itself up. I'm like, "Wow. Why did that take me so long?"
Everybody has hang ups about this about themselves, so it's really important to realize that you're not alone. It's a struggle. There's going to be a lot of journaling, a lot of emotional processing to move through this well, so the solution is to commit and plan for the long-term. Right? Are you sensing a theme here?
It's basically telling yourself, "I am worth this effort". Right? "I am worth figuring this out. I am worth feeling good", and again, you're human. This might happen, so just restart the clock. Just go for it again.
The nice thing is that if you end up with cumulatively more than six weeks, six weeks totally clear, but maybe it takes you nine or 12 weeks, that's great. That's going to get you even better results if you choose to do the reintroduction, so it's exciting. It can only lead to good things that way. Okay. All right. Let's take a look at the next one here.
This is a big one, missteps in reintroduction. There are a lot of ways reintroduction can go wrong, which is why it's the hardest part of the diet usually, and then it's also not necessary to do. Again, as we talked about in video two, if you're feeling good and you'd rather not mess with it, more power to you. Awesome. Just stay away from things.
If you've committed to that and you feel okay with that and you're fine turning things down to social function or bringing your own food, which is a reality for most elimination diet issues, then that's great, but if you feel like you want to introduce if you want to know for sure, again, it's kind of variable and you might have to reintroduce it a few times and really be patient with it, yeah, then it can be worthwhile to go ahead and do. Yeah. One of the issues I see is a mixed reintroduction.
Again, I think in video two, I talked about trying some birthday cake and how that is dairy, gluten, soy, corn, sugar are all things together, and that is not going to give you a clear picture at all. You're probably going to feel like crap afterwards either immediately or a few days afterwards, but it's going to blow your timeline for unfortunately having everything out.
When you do the reintroduction phase, it is crucial that you do one thing at a time, and like in the last video, I said I'll give you a little overview of the quantity and type of pure food that you want to eat to test those things. I don't have that down for everything, but you do it as much as you can and as close as you can to that, and you have to eat a fair amount. Right? That is the other point, not eating enough of the food. "Oh, I'll just nibble here."
"I'll have a cracker at this social function. Oh, great. I'm totally fine with wheat." No, no. I wish it were that simple, but it's not. The whole point of reintroduction is to create a response.
You have to give it a shot that way, and it's a bummer because it means that you might feel miserable, and that's a little bit hard to self-inflict, but if you really want to eat that food again or you really want to know if you're sensitive, it's worthwhile to test and to check in with. Right? That can happen right at that six-week mark. It can happen later, and oftentimes what I see for people is that they reintroduce the foods right at six weeks that they most want to test, that they're missing the most. I think that that's, yeah, that's really important is that you see the solution right as you follow the protocol completely. Right?
It's really, really important the reintroduction to be very strict and rigid with things. There isn't a lot of leeway, otherwise, you're just not going to get clear results which is exactly what you want to have, to know for sure, so yeah. Not waiting at least 72 hours where we talked about you need to wait at least 72 hours between foods to test to allow that inflammation level to come down or any reactivity to come down or you wait until your symptoms are gone, so you're not following your symptoms, rushing it, saying like, "Whatever. I just really want to test this food and I need to dive in." Not okay.
It's just going to muddle your results. Again, there are so many things it can muddle in, your mood, your stress level, your immune system. What's going on? You might not always have clear results, but that's also why it's really nice to keep that journal or diary of any symptoms that might pop up and remember that they could be fully 72 hours delayed, so if you wake up feeling tired and lethargic, might have been the eggs yesterday or two days later, and that's what's really interesting. You start to learn the patterns that you have with these particular foods, and that's really all this diet is about.
We're learning how sensitive you are to things, and that's when you start to negotiate and you start to think, "Okay. Maybe I can have this food once a week. Maybe it really needs to be out for a couple years for me to totally heal." That's really what we're doing here. We're understanding the strength and depth of reaction that your body has to certain foods, and then it's up to you what you do with that information. Right?
Okay. Right. Solution, follow the protocol, and listen to your body definitely. Okay. We're on to our last common misstep or mistake that people make on the elimination diet or just the whole process here.
Trusting test results. Right? This way, I'm not talking about reintroduction test results because those should be the most accurate of any test results you get that if you've done it correctly and you've eliminated things for the full six weeks and you've reintroduced one food at a time in a proper quantity, that will give you the clearest results possible, and hopefully you're not stressed, and have had good sleep, and all these other good things to decrease the inflammation level, but I'm talking more about the skin tests that you get from Western allergy doc or the RAST test, which is the blood test they do that tests IgE. Right? Remember those two tests only do IgE, which is the hypersensitivity could be anaphylactic shock reactions with throat swelling, difficulty breathing, tongue and lip swelling, hives, that type of thing.
Then also, the IgG food allergy tests, which are food sensitivity tests that you get from most naturopaths that typically focus on testing IgG, which is that delayed allergic reaction bits. That's where it can be delayed that full 72 hours or what not, just not that extreme reaction that the IgE is. Some naturopaths also test for IgG or IgA, but most of the time, they usually test for IgG. Sometimes they'll do IgE and IgA as well, but IgG is the most common. The deal with that is that they're inaccurate and incomplete. Right?
The IgE test really only tests for those hypersensitivity anaphylactic reactions that most people know they have. Yeah. That's super helpful and it's a lot of money to get that testing done. Even the IgG which are geared towards food sensitivities that are way more common than natural food allergies, they're still incomplete because it requires that direct antigen antibody immune response, and that is not how food intolerances work. They do not directly involve the immune system.
They often indirectly activate the immune system, but they don't directly activate it, so the food allergy test that you can get from your doctor or naturopath only tests one part of the picture. Right? They only test that direct immune response. The IgG test from your naturopaths can be a great jumping off point especially if you just want to know and give yourself a little intro of possibilities. Just know that it is not the end-all be-all of what you might be sensitive to, so it's really important to realize those tests are not a hundred percent accurate.
It's very difficult even with the IgG test, there are so many different parts of the food that they could be testing. With an apple, is it the skin? Is it the internal part of the fruit beyond the skin? Was that an organic apple? Did it get all these molecules or samples from the apple is an accurate representation. Like what part of that are you reacting to? That's not super transparent with food allergy testing at this point.
I'm sure it will get more and more transparent, and then we'll have some more information on what is actually needed, what parts of the fruit, how to test it, that type of thing, and it varies widely from lab to lab, so there's a lot left to be desired in terms of food sensitivity testing IgG wise and of course again can give you a good starting point, but it is not the full picture and never will be, so yeah. Looking at this with the testing, I mentioned this a little bit when we were talking about in the first video, but there's this psychological term that psychologists talk about as the external locus of control.
That you are looking outside your body for the answer and outside yourself, and you're placing all of this value on that result and saying, "That's really what's going to tell me the answer", and that's really how we've been conditioned in allopathic or Western medicine viewpoint. We are conditioned to look to the doctor for those answers. They will always have the answers or the imaging or the lab test will, and it will direct us to the right diagnosis and the right treatment, and that is just not how the body works a lot of the time. It's not.
We don't fit into these perfect, little boxes, and I think that's the real value of naturopathic medicine is that as practitioners, we really use the gray area. We actually like it when you don't fit into those boxes because that means you don't have this really severe pathology that's developed. You haven't tipped enough of those boxes to have this particular diagnosis and treatment, and as a patient, that can be very frustrating, but from my point of view, I love it. That is my bread and butter.
That's my favorite thing and my favorite way to treat people, because again, we've hit something before it's gotten that advanced. Anyway, this external locus of control, just putting this value on what's outside of you to tell you what's wrong and what needs to happen, and that is a very, very disempowering message. That's saying that you are not smart enough to know, you're not powerful enough or intuitive enough to understand what your own body is telling you that you need somebody else to tell you. Again, that's the exact opposite message of naturopathic medicine. That's the opposite way of how I practice and how most naturopaths practice.
We really want to empower our patients so they can do the best they can for themselves, and that is really, really tough. Instead of looking outward, to turn that mirror around and look inward or to make it a mirror, so you look inward essentially. You have to be willing to take this really deep look at yourself and listen to what your body is saying and these symptoms that maybe you've been ignoring for years or decades that you don't want to deal with that your body is silly and what's it doing, it's just stupid because that's easier to think that. Right? It's way easier to do that than to actually take ownership and responsibility for the fact that, "Wow, I am doing something that's really irritating my core, my G.I. mentally and emotionally", all of this stuff, because that's when you have to change.
You start to when you look inward, you have to take ownership, and then you have to change, otherwise there's too much cognitive dissonance which is another nice psychological term where there's too much difference between these. You see these two realities and they don't match up, and cognitive dissonance is that really uncomfortable feeling that happens, and then it's very, very difficult to hold those two realities, so one ends up becoming the reality, and that's what you see.
People either go towards stronger denial that the body is stupid, it doesn't know what it's doing, it's definitely not food, I'm just going to live with this, whatever or you're like, "Wow, I really need to change and make this better for myself and I'm going to start doing the hard work". It is really hard work. I totally understand that and this is a lot to ask of yourself, but it's also massively rewarding.
Much more so than anything you could do by not paying attention or suppressing. You're really giving yourself a fighting chance by listening, so solution is to listen to your body and to respect your body. It is innately wise. It understand what's happening. It is creating symptoms for a reason, which is to get your attention, and then it's your job to learn how to interpret that and to respect it and to figure out what it needs.
That's part of my job is I'd say that's 90% of my job is just teaching people how to understand what their body is saying to them. Then, over time, they learn and they don't really need my help as much anymore, which is the best feeling ever. It's fabulous to have people who are self-sufficient in that regard. Okay. My number one piece of advice.
You might have guessed this. All right? It's trust your body, which I have said a lot and just said a lot about, so I won't say too much more here, but it really is at the core of this entire food allergy, food sensitivity bit because without an external test and looking internally, you have to start to trust what it's saying. You have to start to think, "Wow, there's something to this". Right?
"This headache that it's giving me, there's a reason for it." Right? That's a big jump when we've been conditioned not to think that way about the body, so it takes a while to really understand, and then it takes a while to understand what symptoms are good and what symptoms are bad, and what's flared up, and what might be just a healing crisis which is a term in naturopathic medicine that I won't get into, but it usually means you're going to get better after you might have a flare-up of symptoms, so there's all these nuances to symptoms that happen, and it's a lot. It's a lot to navigate on your own, which is why it's lovely to have a natural healthcare practitioner to help you move through that, online resources, books, all that good stuff, but yeah. You have to listen to it, and then be patient.
Be patient with not only your body's ability to heal, which is often faster than we expect it will be, but be patient with yourself. I often find that it's not the physical that's dragging the progress back. It's the mental and emotional. It's the getting out of our own way to actually make the progress we needed to make. Usually, once we do that, our body just man, bam. It just heals and it's fantastic.
Again of course, that depends on your age and what else has been going on in your life, and what's happening, but it is really inspiring when you finally move out of your own way and you can see what happens, but that takes a lot of education, a lot of remembering to look inward, a lot of trusting your body which again, we're not really conditioned to do, so I realize these are very difficult things and I don't want to be flipping about it and just send you on your way without trying to give you some more resources and great thought processes around it. I really hope that I've done that in this series for you.
I will have all of my resources listed below the video again so you don't feel like you're out on your own doing this. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. If I'm not your direct healthcare practitioner, I might refer you to talk to your healthcare practitioner, but I can try to answer any questions I might have raised for you in these videos to the best of my ability.
Again, yeah, I really hope that this inspires you to maybe look at your body and your symptoms in a different way and maybe look at those chronic long-term things that maybe you've associated with aging or just, "I have this condition, therefore I have to live with this". That's not necessarily always true if you can really reorient, give your body a chance to heal by removing some of this inflammatory load that we can expose ourselves to through these food sensitivities and intolerances. Okay. I think that's it for me. Thanks so much. Take care.
Kombucha, the naturopathic drink of champions. A little behind the scenes action. You can see where I've got this all set up in my office with my super cool tripod, and these are my lights that I use. I've got two of them pointed at me. They're pretty bright, and then I've got my third one to light up the background with my messy office and propped up on the cat bed. You got to use what you have.