Why Going Gluten-Free Doesn’t Always Help

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As seen in the Cupertino Courier >>

Food sensitivities, especially to gluten, are some of the most common nutritional challenges I see.  For many, going gluten-free is the “holy grail” that resolves many chronic health issues.

However, for others eliminating gluten seems to be ineffective, leaving them to question if gluten is the real problem.  Upon deeper investigation, we often discover that gluten isn’t the only food sensitivity present; it’s identifying and addressing the additional sensitivities that often allows these patients to find relief from chronic symptoms.

One of the primary issues with food sensitivities is that they often lead to inflammation and tissue destruction.  This occurs most commonly in the gastrointestinal system.

Years, or even decades, of food sensitivities can lead to a condition called “leaky gut,” in which the damaged intestinal lining allows for large food particles to get into the blood stream.  These particles are normally unable to bypass the barrier and when they do, it can trigger an immune response to the now “foreign invader.”  By identifying foods that break down the system and eliminating them from the diet, natural healing can occur.

Some of the most common food sensitivities include:

  • alpha-casein
  • amaranth
  • beta-casein
  • barley
  • buckwheat
  • casomorphin
  • chocolate (milk)
  • coffee
  • corn
  • cow’s milk
  • egg
  • hemp
  • milk butyrophilin
  • millet
  • oats
  • Polish wheat
  • potato
  • quinoa
  • rice
  • rye
  • sesame
  • spelt
  • sorghum
  • soy
  • tapioca
  • teff
  • whey protein
  • yeast

Now, before you get too discouraged, the above mentioned foods usually lead only to a temporary food sensitivity. Once they are identified and removed from the diet, accompanied by a gut healing protocol, they can typically be reintroduced into the diet after six weeks.

The key here is to consume these foods in moderation and not as an everyday staple. One solution is to rotate foods on a four-day cycle to limit the possibility of re-establishing the food sensitivity.

To determine if you are sensitive to certain foods, analyze the list above.  Do you over-consume any of them?  If so, the source of your symptoms may be obvious.  If this isn’t, the next step is to conduct a food elimination diet.

The food elimination diet I recommend eliminates the above listed foods completely, 100 percent, for 30 days.  Afterward, you can add them back to your diet, just one item per week.

Each day, pay close attention to your symptoms.  It just takes a few months to discover which foods are your possible troublemakers.

Additionally, I often correlate these patient observations with empirical data, such as an extensive food sensitivity/allergy tests.  These tests look for immune reactions to the most common foods.

Immune reactions are found in the blood by checking for the presence of antibodies such as IgE, IgG, IgA, and IgM. Typically, a conventional allergy test looks for only severe allergies, indicated by IgE antibodies.

This narrow window often means slight to moderate sensitivities do not show up, sometimes resulting in false negatives.  Thankfully, modern testing increasingly focuses on IgG and IgA antibodies, assessing a much broader range of sensitivities and autoimmune reactions.

If you’ve tested negative for food allergies in the past, but still have chronic health issues, you may want to test with another lab.  Some labs, such as Cyrex Laboratories, are pioneers in the arena of food sensitivities and autoimmune disorders. These tests, in addition to an elimination diet, can help you methodically analyze how your body reacts to foods, determining the true cause of your ailments.

No one should have to suffer health problems caused by food sensitivities and allergies. Finding and accepting the fact that some of our favorite foods may cause us harm is an exercise in soul searching. But it’s a step in setting a commitment to health that in the long run pays big dividends.

If you would like to learn more on how food sensitivity testing may benefit you, or have questions pertaining your health, feel free to contact us.