Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Conquering Delayed-Onset Food Allergies in Three Steps

Conquering Delayed-Onset Food Allergies in Three Steps
by Charmaine D. Mercado

(NaturalNews) Do you find yourself suffering from asthma, migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue, fuzzy brain, non-seasonal rhinitis, depression, eczema, arthritis, bloating, or insomnia, yet no medical treatment seems to work for you? If you have one or more of these symptoms that just come and go and are unresponsive to medication, then there's a very big chance that your diet is the main culprit behind all your health complaints.

A growing number of studies have established the connection between the above-mentioned ailments to food allergy. Even irritable bowel diseases such as diverticulitis, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and celiac disease have been linked to food allergies.

Doctors have long believed that the only kind of allergy is the immediate-onset type, the kind of allergy that triggers the formation of IgE (immunoglobulin E) antibodies. Symptoms of IgE or type 1 allergy appear within two hours, often showing up in a few minutes. Stomach cramps, hives, skin rashes, diarrhea, wheezing, swelling, and anaphylaxis (which could lead to death) are the common reactions an immediate-onset allergy sufferer experiences.

This article shall focus more on the other more common yet harder to diagnose auto-immune disorder called delayed-onset allergy. When Food Becomes an EnemyDelayed-onset food allergy, also known as IgG (immunoglobulin G) and type 3 allergy, is an auto-immune disease that causes your immune system to overreact when you ingest certain foods.

Studies reveal that there are more immune cells in the digestive tract than in any part of the body. The immune cells mistakenly attack food particles and treat them as antigens or foreign invaders, producing IgE antibodies, histamine and other chemicals as an attempt to fight what they perceive as toxins. A person suffering from immediate-onset allergy can only be allergic to up to three foods, while a delayed-onset allergy sufferer can have reactions to as many as twenty foods.

The top delayed-onset food allergens (in no particular order) are cow's milk, gluten (in wheat and other grains such as barley, rye, and oats), fish, egg whites, egg yolks, soy, peanuts, yeast, corn, and nuts such as cashew, almonds, hazelnuts, and Brazil nuts.

The good news is that type 3 food allergies are reversible if you make a conscious effort to facilitate your body's healing by temporarily nixing the aggravating food, consuming raw food and taking enzyme supplements, and by eliminating disruptive energies in the body that could be causing your disease. All the suggested steps apply only to delayed-onset allergies and not to IgE allergies.

Step One: Avoid the Offending Food for at Least 3 Months.
The best way in knowing whether you have delayed-onset food allergy is by having yourself properly tested. This would eliminate all the guesswork on your part. IgE allergy testing involves state of the art blood tests to properly diagnose your food allergies. Every person is unique and should be properly tested. A person with delayed-onset allergies may be allergic to less common allergenic foods such as chili peppers, chicken, kiwi, garlic, red meat, citrus fruits, tomatoes or onion.

If however there are no sophisticated blood assays in your area that would test your blood sample against more than a hundred kinds of food to determine whether you react to any of them or not, then an allergen-free diet for two weeks would help you make intelligent guesses as to what is causing your discomforts.

Keep a food diary and write down all the symptoms that you'll be experiencing for the next few days. Take note of all the food that you frequently eat and see if they make you feel worse a few hours to a few days after eating them. A clue to determining your allergy to a certain food is if you strongly like a certain food and feel great satisfaction when eating it.

Much like in alcoholism and chain smoking, the body creates a strong attachment and addiction to the very substance that is harming the person. Once you've made your list of allergy suspects, carefully plan your diet for the next several days and eliminate all the suspect foods for two weeks. Notice how you feel when you are not consuming them. Chances are you will feel great relief within a week.

Some people who suffer from edema due to gluten allergy lose a lot of retained water and therefore shed a few pounds in a couple of days without exercise. Note that you might feel your old symptoms within the first few days of abstaining from the offending foods. This is a normal reaction and will disappear in about five days. If you still feel bad after eliminating a number of food from your diet, check your food diary if there is anything else that you eat often that you haven't eliminated yet. Could it be that cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate? It could be an ingredient included in a lot of the items that you eat.

A highly-qualified nutritionist who specializes in food allergies would greatly help by asking you the right questions. Your nutritionist can help you determine whether you're truly allergic to something or merely sensitive or intolerant to it. But either way you would be advised to avoid the food that causes your allergy or sensitivity until you are ready to reintroduce it to your body.

After doing your elimination diet for two weeks, try reintroducing each food you've avoided one by one every five days. For example, if you avoided gluten, dairy, and soy, try food containing gluten on day one. Then completely avoid it again for the next five days. If you notice your symptoms go back within five days then you have a clear sign that you are truly allergic to it.

Then you can move on to dairy and eat cheese for a day then abstain from any kind of dairy product or ingredient for the next five days and see if your symptoms recur. Do the same with soy. If you react to all three then you would have to avoid all of them in the next three to six months before you can reintroduce them in your diet.

You would also have to educate yourself with regard to food families and hidden food ingredients. You might be reacting to soy but decide to eat a product containing TVP or textured vegetable protein since it does not have the word "soy" on the label, and find your asthma symptoms coming back. You may be allergic to gluten but not to soy and may be surprised to find yourself reacting to soy sauce, which often contains gluten.

This would involve a de rigueur label reading to check if a certain food contains an allergen as one of its ingredients. Eating out can also be a challenge to the food allergy sufferer. Cross-contamination is frequently what happens when the restaurant doesn't wash utensils that would be used for the dish you ordered after preparing a food that you may be allergic to. You may ask the waiter to skip the breading in your fried fish if you have gluten allergy, but the cook may not change the oil and clean the pan where he just cooked breaded chicken. Don't hesitate to ask the waiter the ingredients of the dish you wish to order, or to inform the chef of your allergies. As a general rule practice caution when eating out.

It takes three to six months for your body to replace all of its IgG antibodies. The new batch of IgE antibodies would have no memory of the list of foods you were strongly reacting to. Provided that you have reversed your leaky gut, the new set of IgG antibodies would have no more reason to attack the food you were previously allergic to. After three months or so you can start reintroducing all the previously offending foods one by one; it is better to take quercetin right before reintroducing old allergens (see below).

Stay away from food that promotes inflammation and mucus formation such as dairy and meat. Avoid alcohol and drink lots of water.

Step Two: Heal Your Digestive System with Enzymes and Nutrients.
The seemingly biggest factor involved in food allergies is having a "leaky gut." A leaky gut has increased permeability compared to a healthy one, thus allowing all the undigested food particles to pass through the intestines and enter the bloodstream. Heal the gut by upping your enzyme intake through raw food and enzyme supplementation.

Eating at least 70% raw food would greatly assist in detoxifying your body from all the chemicals it released as a consequence of mistaking food as an invader. A mainly raw diet would also accelerate the healing of a leaky gut.

The main reason for the existence of undigested food particles is that the body is not producing enough enzymes to properly and completely break down food into simple, usable, and highly-assimilable substances. Enzymes are particularly known to break down the undigested food proteins that the immune cells attack as allergens. Proteolytic or protein-digesting enzymes such as protease, bromelain, and papain can greatly help in digesting unmetabolized protein allergens present in the blood. Enzymes can also boost immune system function by promoting the growth of good bacteria in the gut.

An efficient immune system relies heavily on healthy intestinal flora in fighting a host of diseases, including allergies. So make it a point to take probiotics to enable your body to effectively fight your type 3 allergy.Vitamins and minerals are also required to heal a leaky gut. In fact the enzymes depend on nutrients to carry out their tasks successfully. Poor nutrition leads to enzyme deficiency, which leads to poor assimilation of nutrients, resulting in greater nutritional deficiency. Enzyme and nutritional deficiency are the leading causes in the development of a wide range of diseases, from allergies to cancer.

Vitamin A destroys free radicals and regulates the release of prostaglandins during allergic reactions. Vitamin B6 helps reduce depression, migraines, and ADHD caused by food allergy. Like vitamin B6, zinc is important in the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach to increase the body's ability to digest food. Vitamin C helps the body detoxify by disabling free radicals produced during allergic reactions. Vitamins A, B6, and C, along with zinc, stimulate and maintain the thymus gland, the body's main immune gland.

Magnesium helps reduce symptoms of asthma, migraine, and depression. MSM or methylsulfonylmethane, quercetin, and omega-3 fatty acids are all anti-inflammatory supplements. They also aid a lot in reversing a leaky gut. Glutamine and probiotics both bolster the body's immune system function and assist in healing a highly-permeable gut.

Of all the nutraceuticals mentioned above, quercetin appears to be the most powerful anti-allergy supplement in removing type 3 allergy symptoms. As an insurance policy it is good to take quercetin thirty minutes prior to reintroducing previously aggravating food.

Good digestion begins in the mouth, so chew your food well whether you're eating raw food or not. Chewing raw food well helps release its enzymes in your mouth, thus making it easy for its nutrients to be broken down. Cooked food would also be more easily digested by the enzyme supplement if well-chewed.

Step Three: Try Acupressure
Studies have linked stress and negative emotions to various diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and allergies. But whether or not your allergy is due to an unresolved emotional issue, it is good for you to do acupressure on yourself or have it done to you by an expert.

Some of the possible emotional or psychosomatic causes of allergies are: the feeling of being unsafe, the need for attention, non-acceptance of oneself, and annoyance towards a certain person one lives with at home. EFT or emotional freedom technique is a good option in relieving a person from the underlying emotional causes of this disease. It corrects the energy disruption caused by negative emotions, usually offering immediate relief, and with persistence, often ends up in the complete elimination of both the emotional trigger and the physical disease. A lot of cases, nothing short of miraculous, have been reported by allergy sufferers who employed EFT in treating the said auto-immune disease.

Not all allergies are necessarily caused by negative emotions though. Early exposure to a 100% cooked diet can lead to digestive exhaustion at one point in a person's life, causing enzyme deficiency and other digestive disorders. Food then is only partially digested at best, which passes through a leaky gut and ends up being attacked as an invader upon entering the bloodstream.

It is for this reason that non-breast-fed individuals are more prone to allergies than those exclusively given breast milk for at least six months. That is why it is important to stick to an elimination diet for at least three months to give the body ample time to heal, rest, and regenerate itself.

Even if one does not have any unexpressed emotional issues to deal with, exploring the cause of withdrawal symptoms and feelings of deprivation would offer the allergy sufferer great relief while helping him abstain from his favorite yet allergenic food. Both EFT tapping and traditional acupressure increase blood circulation and unclog blocked meridian points in the body, thus providing great relief upon tapping on or pressing acupressure points. It is good to consult an EFT practitioner to assist you in getting to your core issues, an acupressure expert to teach you which points in your body to press to improve your condition, or a reflexologist to do a proper foot massage to accelerate your healing.

There you have it. With proper education, dedication and perseverance you can become allergy-free for life!

References:Braly, James and Holford, Patrick. Hidden Food Allergies: Is What You Eat Making You Ill? Piatkus, 2005.Chebat, Maraya. Core Energetics: A Primer On Mind-Body Integration. NBS Inc., 1984.Cichoke, Anthony. Enzymes to the Rescue. http://www.foodreactions.org/articles/enzymes_to_the_rescue.htmlCraig, Gary. The EFT Manual. http://www.emofree.comHainsworth, Jo. A fascinating trip through the successful elimination of multiple chemical and food sensitivities. (http://www.emofree.com/Allergy/multiple-food-allergies.htm)Holford, Patrick. Improve Your Digestion. Piatkus, 1999.Savitri, Ramaiah, ed. All You Wanted to Know About Acupressure in Daily Life. New Dawn, 2000.Doctors Use New Acupressure Technique For Severe Allergic Reactions: Medication Unnecessary. 5 July 2006. (http://www.NaturalNews.com/019562.html)
About the authorCharmaine D. Mercado is a freelance writer who is passionate about natural health, nutrition and well-being.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Supplements and Surgery Don't Mix

Some nutritional supplements can affect bleeding and recovery after surgery.
Stop taking these supplements two days before surgery...
  • Echinacea, an immunity-boosting supplement, may interfere with certain drugs and slow wound healing.
  • Ginkgo regulates blood flow and enhances memory, but it may cause excessive bleeding.
  • Kava calms nerves and encourages sleep -- but it may intensify the sedative effects of anesthesia.

Stop taking these supplements seven days before surgery...

  • Fish oil contains healthy omega-3 fatty acids, but it can cause excessive bleeding.
  • Garlic reduces high blood pressure and cholesterol, but it also may cause excessive bleeding.
  • Ginseng stimulates the immune system and improves energy, but it can cause rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, excessive bleeding and low blood sugar levels.
  • St. John's wort helps ease depression, but it also may increase or decrease the strength of certain drugs.
Chun-Su Yuan, MD, PhD University of Chicago

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Beware the painkiller patch

Pain killer
Beware the painkiller patch—it could literally kill you.

According to the FDA, it's due to good old-fashioned human error. Doctors have been incorrectly prescribing fentanyl—a heavy-duty narcotic—to patients that it was never intended to treat, such as those who are not in chronic pain. Instead, doctors are supposed to think of cancer patients when prescribing this patch, who have already built up some tolerance for opiod-level painkillers. But patients with no more than a headache are receiving it—and with deadly consequences. So the FDA has issued a second warning about these patches. The first warning came out in 2005, when it announced it was looking a little closer at 120 fatalities associated with fentanyl use. Evidently, the first warning had little effect, as reports of dangerous side effects and deaths have continued. The FDA is also having the makers of these fentanyl patches include warnings in plain-speak so that all patients can understand exactly how potent this drug is. On the FDA website are some guidelines for use that have been posted.

If you or someone you know is using one of these patches, please be aware of the following:
Fentanyl patches should be thought of as the last step in painkilling for chronic pain. It's not for headaches or to be taken after surgery. There are other options that aren't as life-threatening as fentanyl, and should be chosen first.

Know the signs of overdose and do not wait to seek treatment:
Feeling faint or dizzy
Cold, clammy skin
Difficulty in breathing, slow breathing, shallow breathing
Heartbeat slows down
Difficulty walking or talking
Overcome by a sense of sleepiness

Advise your doctor of every medication you take to avoid adverse reactions.
Read the instructions that come with the patch to understand exactly how to apply it.
Don't add heat in the form of a heating pad, electric blanket, steam room, sauna, or a hot bath. Heat has a way of "heating up" the effect, which can be deadly.
While a patch may seem benign, you can actually overdose with their use. Some patients may try putting on an extra one in a quest to strengthen the results. Or, they may change it too frequently, despite instructions to the contrary. Make sure you treat drugs as drugs no matter what clever delivery system Big Pharma hides them in.
Dr. Alan Inglis House Calls

Friday, January 11, 2008

Up to 70 Percent of Americans May be Deficient in Vitamin D

Up to 70 Percent of Americans May be Deficient in Vitamin D--Find Out Why You Don't Want to be One of Them

By John Jacob Cannell, M.D., executive director of The Vitamin D Council

Vitamin D is a vital nutrient that is unique, both in terms of its physiology and because humans rely on both endogenous skin production and exogenous sources to meet biological requirements. Vitamin D is commercially available as vitamin D2, (ergocalciferol) made from plant products, and vitamin D3, (cholecalciferol) made from animal products.

Cholecalciferol is also made naturally in the skin by the action of a specific wavelength of ultraviolet light (UVB) interacting with precholesterol. Cholecalciferol is then transported to the liver and turned into calcidiol [(25(OH)D]. In turn, the calcidiol is transported to the kidney and transformed into the steroid calcitriol, which is excreted into the blood to help regulate calcium in the body. This is the main endocrine function of vitamin D.

Meanwhile, many tissues other than the kidney turn calcidiol into calcitriol to help regulate gene expression locally; this is the newly discovered autocrine (inside the cell) and paracrine (surrounding the cell) functions of vitamin D. This autocrine and paracrine function is impaired in vitamin D deficient subjects. All studies show many Americans are vitamin D deficient, especially Blacks, where the problem is pandemic.

This use of calcitriol by other tissues as an autocrine and paracrine hormone is a relatively new discovery that explains its role in human development as well as the many health benefits of vitamin D in other illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, autoimmune illness, at least 13 different cancers and, perhaps, some mental illness.

The Extraordinary Rate of Natural Vitamin D Production
The single most important scientific fact about vitamin D is that young adult Whites make about 20,000 units of vitamin D in their skin within minutes of whole-body, summer-sun exposure. This is 100 times the Adequate Intake (AI) and five times the toxicity maximums (Lowest Observed Adverse Effects Level or LOAEL) recommended by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) for young adults. Therefore, many Americans greatly exceed the IOM's safety recommendations by simply spending a few minutes outside in their swimming suits!
This extraordinary rate of natural vitamin D production in the skin (20,000 IU) leading to the production of a potent endocrine, paracrine and autocrine steroid hormone leads one (as T.S. Eliot once said), "to an overwhelming question." Why did Nature design such a complex system reliant on rapid and bountiful production of cholecalciferol? Answer, "Probably for a very good reason."

Because low calcidiol [25(OH)D] levels (less than 35 ng/ml) are associated with so many chronic illnesses, calcidiol levels are an important part of any laboratory health evaluation and should be routinely checked by physicians. Unfortunately, few physicians are aware of this so perhaps as much as 70 percent of the U.S. population has calcidiol levels below 35 ng/ml. Even when asked to check vitamin D levels, physicians often order calcitriol levels, instead of calcidiol levels, an error that greatly misleads both the physician and the patient.

What are Optimum Blood Levels of Vitamin D?
For numerous reasons (optimal calcium absorption, maximal suppression of PTH, reduction in blood pressure, decreased incidence of various cancers, retarding the progression of osteoarthritis, reducing the incidence of autoimmune illness, reduction in CRP, etc), healthful blood levels of calcidiol [25(OH)D] are between 35 and 50 ng/ml although commercial labs usually report "normal" or Gaussian distributions of between 8-72 ng/ml depending on the latitude of the lab's population.

Therefore, commercial reference laboratories also mislead physicians and their patients by reporting "normal" (Gaussian distributions of a deficient population) instead of healthful calcidiol levels. Patients need to know these facts before asking their physician for the calcidiol [25(OH)D] blood test.

Until the medical profession becomes knowledgeable on this matter, patients need to become educated, educate their physicians, get the proper blood test and then take steps to raise their calcidiol level if it is less than 35 ng/ml. We know of no reason to exceed 50 ng/ml.
Populations around the equator (where man evolved) and groups spending time outdoors without many clothes (lifeguards), have levels of around 50 ng/ml. Such observations have important implications for the vitamin D conditions under which humans evolved.
In other words, it suggests humans have had 25(OH)D levels of around 50 ng/ml for 99.99 percent of the time they have been on earth. Only in the last several hundred years has urbanization, industrialization, glass (UVB does not penetrate glass), excessive clothes (UVB does not penetrate clothes) and sunblock lowered 25(OH)D levels to their current deficient levels.

Options if Your Vitamin D Levels are Low
Persons with low levels have three choices: the sun, a sun lamp or vitamin D supplements. At most latitudes in the United States, little or no vitamin D is made in the skin in the late fall and early winter. In our most northern states the vitamin D blackout lasts for about six months. In the spring and summer, Whites can make large amounts (20,000 IU) by sunbathing on both sides, without sunblock, for a few minutes (about one-third the time it takes for the skin to begin to slightly redden). Darker skinned persons need five to 10 times longer depending on the amount of melanin pigment in the skin.

Vitamin D production occurs within minutes and is maximized long before the skin turns red or begins to tan. One does not have to get repeated blood tests when using sun exposure to obtain vitamin D. Toxicity can not occur even with heavy and continuous sunbathing because ultraviolet light begins to degrade vitamin D after making about 20,000 IU, thus reaching a steady state. Overexposure, especially sunburns, is damaging to the skin, dangerous, and should be entirely avoided.

Some artificial sun lamps contain significant amounts of UVB and have been shown to raise calcidiol levels into the healthful range. Just like the sum, one does not have to worry about toxicity or obtain repeated blood levels when using them. However, just like the sum, care must be taken not to overexpose the skin. Suntans are not needed to obtain adequate vitamin D. Sunburns must be avoided. One manufacturer with some vitamin D data is Sperti. (http://www.sperti.com/products.htm)

Many people are beginning to rely on supplements to raise their calcidiol levels as they have been told (usually erroneously) to entirely avoid the sun. However, in the absence of UVB, one must consume 3,000 to 5,000 IU of cholecalciferol a day to maintain healthful calcidiol levels. Similar studies have not been done with ergocalciferol but current data indicates that almost twice as much ergocalciferol would be needed.

Vitamin D repletion is safest when done under a physician's care so calcidiol levels (and perhaps calcium levels) can be monitored. Persons diagnosed with sarcoidosis, other granulomatous disease, cancer (especially lymphoma) or hyperparathyroidism should not take vitamin D unless they are under the care of a knowledgeable physician (and would be well advised to find one). Patients with these conditions may develop a vitamin D hypersensitivity syndrome, which is different than vitamin D toxicity.

Vitamin D Toxicity
Persons who do not want to have blood tests would be best advised to rely on prudent sun exposure. If such persons choose to avoid the sun, they should never exceed 2,000 IU of cholecalciferol a day [which is the Institute of Medicine's NOAEL (No Observed Adverse Effects Level)].

Cholecalciferol can be obtained at health food stores and on the Internet. Cod liver oil contains about 1,200 IU of vitamin D per tablespoon but also contains about 14,000 IU of vitamin A. Therefore, persons with no sun exposure may exceed safe intakes of vitamin A in order to replete the vitamin D system. (We know omega-3 nutrition is very important but believe fish oil to be a safer alternative than cod liver oil).

Vitamin D can be toxic in overdose (probably more than 20,000 IU a day over a prolonged period of time). We are not aware of any reports in the literature of deaths from acute overdose, such as suicide attempts, leading to death. In fact, a 150-pound human would have to take more than 100,000 capsules of the 1,000 IU cholecalciferol capsules to approach the LD50 for the most sensitive mammal (the male rat at 40 mg/kg).

Such patients would be more likely to die from gastric bloating leading to asphyxiation than from vitamin D toxicity. In mammals, signs of toxicity short of death can first be seen at .5mg/kg (20,000 IU/kg or 1,400 capsules at one time for a 150 pound adult human).

We are unaware of any reports of vitamin D toxicity from supplements except when manufacturing errors occurred. Most of the reported toxicity is industrial (dairies putting in the wrong amount into milk or the concentrated oil being used for cooking). However death from chronic poisoning has been described and is possible. If you believe "a little is good then a whole lot is better," then you may prove the association between judgment and natural selection.