As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, My Motivation, completing the Hypo-Allergenic Diet in May gave me great insight to foods that I am sensitive to. I realized a while ago that certain foods irritated my stomach, however I wasn’t able to pin-point which specific foods they were. After being on the diet, I am aware of these foods and can avoid them or at least be cautious when I do consume them. The foods that I am sensitive to not only upset my stomach but also contribute to my acne breakouts and generalized inflammation. Some of the food sources that I was able to identify as being aggravators included dairy (the casein molecule and not lactose), soy, peppers, melons, and potatoes.
Irritation to the digestive tract is commonly correlated with atopic symptoms including acne, eczema, asthma, arthritis, and of course irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Hypersensitivity to foods and environmental allergens can also affect patients with more severe conditions such as migraine, Ulcerative Colitis, Celiac disease, Lupus, Fibromyalgia, Autistic individuals and psychiatric conditions. The general mechanism when ingesting a food that a person is hyper-sensitive to is as follows:
- Increase in inflammatory cytokines (especially Interleukin 1, 6, and 10)
- Tight junctions lining the gut open up
- The gaps allow large proteins to move past the gut lining and into the blood stream (see diagram on the right)
- Systemic/body antigens are made to the large proteins
- The immune system responds and stimulates discharge of serotonin and histamine
- Inflammation can be general or localized depending on which cells are stimulated
The 2 main treatments include:
- Food withdrawal diet (identified with an IgG/IgA test or the Hypo-Allergenic Diet)
- Regulating the microbial flora/environment of the gut with Probiotics
The Hypo-Allergenic Diet (aka. Elimination Diet), commonly consists of a 3-4 week period of eliminating common foods that cause sensitivities for individuals, followed by re-introducing each food, one at a time, approximately every third days. The most common food perpetrators are gluten, dairy, eggs, caffeine, citrus fruits, nightshade vegetables, corn, beef, sugar, peanuts, and soy.
This diet is not easy to do properly, especially for those who eat out a lot or are not accustomed to shopping at health food shops or trying new recipes. However, I encourage everyone to give it a shot, but be prepared to plan your meals carefully.
For more information and the full version of foods to include and exclude, please email me at contact@DrAlisonChen.com. Thanks for reading and please share your comments, suggestions, and questions below.