In order to cure acid reflux disease, you must remove the cause of the problem and promote the healing process.
The following are the most common causes:
Food allergies: In my practice I have found that a majority of cases of heartburn are caused by food allergies. Food allergies often cause a host of other problems and can be diagnosed with a simple blood test.
Foods: certain foods cause the lower esophageal sphincter to relax, thus leading to heartburn. These include peppermint, coffee, alcohol and chocolate.
Hiatal hernia: This is a physical condition where part of the stomach protrudes through the diaphragm. It can generally be reduced without surgery, though even when present it is not necessarily the sole cause of heartburn
Low Acid Production: Ironically, low stomach acid levels can result in heartburn. This is much more common than increased acid. This problem can be assessed clinically and is readily treatable.
Medications: Many medications cause heartburn as a side-effect, including, several acid blockers. These include:
Acid Blockers: Prevacid, Prilosec, Zantac, etc.
Asthma inhalers (beclamethasone, flovent, etc).
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen.
Antianxiety medications, such as diazepam (Valium) and lorazepam (Ativan).
Osteoporosis drugs such as alendronate (Fosamax).
Overeating: Of course. The stomach is only so big, even if the eyes and the mouth are bigger.
Pregnancy & Obesity: These are related in that both put pressure on the stomach, decreasing it’s volume and forcing food back from whence it came.
Stress: Stress is a small word with big health consequences. Stress can be the sole cause of heartburn, but often it is exacerbating other causes. Regardless, there are nutrients, herbs and therapies that will help you deal with your stress.
Smoking: Smoking also causes the lower esophageal sphincter to relax, leading to heartburn.
Yeast infections, or yeast overgrowth, are a common result of antibiotic use. Yeast is also considered normal flora at low populations, since it is often found in the digestive tract.
However, remember that normal does not necessarily mean good. Yeast, especially the most common type called Candida, invades tissue and is a general irritant. Its growth inhibits the growth of good bacteria, and its life cycle produces the toxic effects of IBS symptoms in its host – you. Candida will take advantage of every opportunity it has to flourish.
If your system has been wiped clean of friendly bacteria due to antibiotics (which do not kill yeast), Candida will likely pounce, either in your digestive tract or elsewhere in your body. Once it gets hold, it can be difficult to get rid of.
Candida can cause a huge variety of symptoms, including but not limited to all the symptoms of IBS, making it one of the most frustrating and confusing conditions to describe, not to mention endure. The average Candida sufferer reports about twenty different symptoms. Many sufferers give up trying to find out what is wrong with them because their symptoms seem unrelated.
Diet can affect Candida symptoms too. Since yeast feeds upon sugars, a diet high in sweets, alcohol, starches, and refined carbohydrates may increase its growth. As a result, some health practitioners recommend special Candida diets that are low in sugar and refined carbohydrates.
If you think you may be suffering from a Candida infestation, it is very important that you undergo proper testing as soon as possible, as it can become a chronic condition if the fungus is allowed to take hold. If your tests are positive, you will be treated with the correct antifungal agents.
The best way to treat a yeast overgrowth is, of course, by preventing it in the first place.
Make sure your friendly bacteria are well established, so that Candida has no chance to grow and spread. After using antibiotics, you should always replenish the intestines with good bacteria.
A recent article from ScienceNews.org provides a better overview of the challenges related to gluten sensitivity.
Excerpt from ScienceNews.org:
There are two well-established conditions that require people to avoid gluten. Celiac disease, an immune response to gluten that produces severe inflammation of the small intestine, afflicts about 0.75 percent of the population. A wheat allergy, sometimes called baker’s asthma, affects about 0.4 percent of the population and is usually characterized by symptoms like breathing problems and a runny nose.
But gluten sensitivity in people who don’t have celiac disease or a wheat allergy is fuzzier. Some websites suggest that 18 million people are sensitive to gluten. Most patients complain of stomach problems and gas. Some add in fatigue, brain fog and depressed mood. There are no confirmed tests for the condition. Many people who say they are gluten sensitive never receive a test for celiac disease, wheat allergy or other sensitivities. They cut out gluten and they feel better. This is often the case for people with irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, a condition characterized by stomach pain, bloating, gas and diarrhea or constipation.
Also worth noting:
But Reiner Ullrich, an immunologist at Charite University Medicine in Berlin, Germany, says that Gibson lab studies are useful “as pilot studies in need of confirmation. We should consider FODMAP content when examining the gluten-free diet.” But he is also concerned that the studies tested the diets for only a few weeks (at most) at a time. Ullrich would like to see the diets tested for at least eight weeks. “I fear there is no shortcut to establish dietary or drug effect in IBS,” he notes.
“People with IBS are a very heterogeneous population,” he [Peter Green] explains. “It’s a complex issue, and this study adds to the confusion.”
Here at the IBS Treatment Center, we are experts at diagnosing food allergies and sensitivities associated with digestive symptoms. But did you know that these same food allergies can also be the cause of symptoms that occur in your ears, nose, and throat?
What does ‘upper respiratory’ include?
The phrase ‘upper respiratory’ refers to the parts of your breathing system that reside in your head and neck (as opposed to the parts that are in your chest, like your lungs). Ear symptoms, such as plugged ears, ringing in the ears, and—most commonly—recurrent ear infections, are complaints suffered by many patients. Nose symptoms can include chronic sinusitis, recurrent sinus infections, stuffy nose, and the development of nasal polyps; these symptoms, when caused by food allergies, frequently do not resolve with surgery or other treatments.
Other upper respiratory symptoms include tonsillitis, chronic swollen lymph nodes, seasonal allergies, and frequent throat clearing. All of these symptoms can have strong associations with food allergies and can often be successfully treated with appropriate elimination of allergenic foods from the diet.
How do food allergies cause upper respiratory symptoms?
Food allergies cause inflammation. And where is the first place that food touches your body? In your mouth. Since the back of your mouth is directly connected to your ears and your upper respiratory tract, consuming allergenic foods can cause inflammation in the Eustachian tubes (which are located at the back of your throat, and help to drain the ears into the throat) and nasal passages.
This type of inflammation is similar to the digestive distress experienced by many patients when they ingest foods to which they are allergic or sensitive. Reducing this inflammation through strict allergen avoidance can help to eliminate or greatly reduce the severity of associated upper respiratory symptoms. Continue reading →
There have been several articles and blogs published lately that claim that gluten sensitivity non-celiac gluten issues are a fad and have no medical validity.
This is an unfortunately common response. It is easy to make fun of the gluten-sensitive population. They are different. They are setting a new standard.
While some people avoiding gluten have no legitimate reason for doing so, and don’t know what gluten is, there are many people who have measurable immune system reactions to gluten and/or other chemicals in wheat – Non-celiac gluten sensitivity: literature review.
These people can have a wide variety of symptoms, or no noticeable symptoms. This is not different than celiac disease, where many people do not have noticeable symptoms. Let me state that again – many people with celiac disease don’t report having symptoms. Celiac disease: risk assessment, diagnosis, and monitoring.
Celiac disease is a relatively common disease with a relatively simple blood test available. But these studies show that most patients with this disease are not being diagnosed.
Celiac disease is just one of many different conditions that can cause IBS and related digestive disorders. The IBS Treatment Center has been using the best information available about these conditions to ensure patients are correctly diagnosed and treated.
Patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other digestive problems such as constipation, diarrhea or abdominal pain often wonder if they have a problem with their gallbladder. Problems with the gallbladder can indeed cause these symptoms. However, many people find that having their gallbladder removed did little or nothing to help their IBS, or even made it worse.
What does the gallbladder do?
The gallbladder does exactly what its name describes; it is a small bladder that stores gall. Gall is more commonly known as bile. Bile is produced by the liver and piped over to the gallbladder via the bile duct.
What is bile?
Bile is a highly concentrated yellow green fluid that contains bile acids. Bile acids are important for digesting fats. When you eat, your gallbladder contracts and secretes bile into the small intestine to help you digest your food. If your gallbladder has been removed then it will be more difficult for you to digest fats. In such cases, eating too much fat may cause loose stools.
When does that gallbladder need to be removed?
In some people, stones develop inside of the gallbladder. These stones, when small, can become lodged in the bile duct, which can cause severe pain and be very dangerous if they also clog the pancreatic duct. Larger stones are not able to pass into the bile duct, but their presence can cause severe pain. Sometimes this is worse when the gallbladder is contracting. In either case, removing the gallbladder usually relieves the pain and you feel much better. Continue reading →
The Innate Health Group was designed and created to reintroduce something that has been missing in medicine, a belief that you are capable of being healthier if given a better understanding of your body.
We subscribe to the scientific method and the theory of evolution. We know that in most cases health is something that comes from the capacity of your body to perform according to its genetic design, with which you were born.
Health, excepting traumatic damage to the body, is usually not most effectively achieved by drugs or surgical procedures. Although these have their place, they are grossly overused. And frequently drugs and surgical procedures cause other significant problems that could be avoided by other techniques that not only solve the underlying problem, but avoid additional risk.
As a society we have lost touch with our innate health. We are confused by a medical system and a culture that prioritizes business over health, and by generic mass marketed treatments and fads that treat people as statistics and customers rather than as unique individuals with unique health care needs.
Our primary goal is to help you maximize your innate health. This is easier said than done, and the choices that will lead to improved health aren’t necessarily obvious, nor are they the same for everyone. As each individual is unique, so are the requirements for your body to be healthy.
However, at the Innate Health Group we are able to achieve great success with our patients by focusing on them as individuals and customizing each patient’s treatment plan. We utilize proven medical care and cutting-edge testing, and combine it with common sense to provide you with information about how your body works and what it needs to function optimally. Our promise to you is that we will not only try to solve your problem, but improve your overall health for the rest of your life.
The Innate Health Group includes the IBS Treatment Center, the Center for Food Allergies, the Food Allergy and Intolerance Foundation, and Innate Health Publishing.
A study in Australia found that people are not getting tested for celiac disease. They looked at a group or mostly women in Melbourne who responded to an ad asking for participants in a study for people who believed that they had non-cecliac gluten intolerance.
72% of those studied had not been tested for celiac disease. 24% still had symptoms despite avoiding gluten. 27% were not truly avoiding gluten.
Many of these patients had attempted self-diagnosis without any testing.
(Reuters Health) – People who believe they are sensitive to gluten have often not been adequately tested to rule out celiac disease, reports a new study.
Jessica R. Biesiekierski told Reuters Health that people with trouble digesting gluten who are not tested for celiac disease may not get proper treatment, which could lead to health problems down the line.
She led the new study at Eastern Health Clinical School at Monash University and Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition in which eating gluten – a protein found in grains such as wheat, barley and rye – damages the lining of the intestines, resulting in digestive symptoms and potential complications.
Some people who don’t have celiac disease or haven’t been tested have similar symptoms they believe are triggered by gluten.
While we support patients taking responsibility for their health, getting proper testing can be a big factor in successful treatment. This study shows that without testing and help from a medical professional who really understands the range of conditions that can be causing their symptoms, patients often fail to solve their problems. The data seem to indicate that even if they need to be avoiding gluten, not having the test results and professional guidance makes it more likely that they will not be diligent about avoiding gluten.
Some of the comments in the news article about this research indicated that it is dangerous for patients to give up gluten on their own, without testing.
Getting testing is very valuable. But if you can’t find a doctor who actually understands celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivities going gluten free on your own may be your best choice.
However, readers of our blogs do have a choice – they can come see some of the world’s best experts on these issues at the IBS Treatment Center.
Rheumatoid arthritis is considered by conventional medicine to be an autoimmune condition of unknown cause.
This belief ignores a large volume of scientific evidence pointing to food allergies as a major cause of arthritis. The medical community has focused almost solely on treating arthritis with anti-inflammatory medications, either prescription or over-the-counter. These medications offer temporary relief of the pain and swelling, but they never cure arthritis. Over the long term this type of treatment also comes with a host of side-effects.
The body can be allergic to any food, therefore any food allergy is capable of causing inflammation and arthritis. This includes RA, juvenile arthritis, and undefined joint pains.
This is why it can be so difficult for one to recognize the relationship between their diet and their symptoms.
Let’s use a dairy allergy as an example. If you eat any form of dairy, be it milk, butter, cheese, yogurt, or even dairy in the form of casein or whey in another food product, such as bread or milk chocolate, then you can potentially trigger the symptoms of your food allergy, in this case arthritis. You should also know that allergy symptoms may show up hours or even a day later, well after a food is absorbed into your system.
Do you know what gluten sensitivity is? Do you know how it differs from Celiac Disease? Maybe you don’t even know what gluten is.
Here is a gluten definition refresher: Gluten is a protein that is found in many different grains, including wheat, spelt, rye, and barley.
If you are sensitive to gluten, then you are sensitive to all of these grains, and to anything made from any of these grains.
Celiac disease is a very specific kind of gluten sensitivity. Celiac disease occurs when there is a very specific kind of damage that occurs to the villi in the small intestine. This damage is called villous atrophy.
This damage may be seen on a biopsy of the small intestine, which is taken during an upper endoscopy performed by a gastroenterologist. It can also be diagnosed with a blood test.
However, other than the villous atrophy, there is often very little difference between celiac disease and other forms of (non-celiac) gluten sensitivity in terms of symptoms or reactions to the ingestion of gluten. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity can cause just as many problems as celiac disease, and be just as severe. Continue reading →
For people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten intolerance eating gluten results in health problems that can be slow and outwardly subtle but severe enough to shorten lives and require hospitalization; or can be dramatically damaging immediately after exposure.
We would contend however that the article is inaccurate in saying that experimenting with gluten free is risky.
It is true that tests for celiac disease and non-celiac gluten intolerance require that the patient has been eating gluten. But going gluten free to see how it feels can be one way of deciding to eliminate gluten forever.
We have seen many patients who decided to go gluten free even after a negative celiac disease test because they knew it helped. Some of these patients have later resumed eating gluten, gotten tested for non-celiac gluten intolerance and found that they were right all along. Most doctors do not test for non-celiac gluten intolerance so patients need to be their own advocate.
Many factors play into the low diagnosis rate of celiac disease, but this could very well be one of them. The gluten-free diet has taken on a life of its own. It’s often portrayed as a weight loss diet, and endless athletes and celebrities tout the perceived health benefits of “going gluten-free.” You’ve probably heard all the buzz. You can lose weight fast on a gluten-free diet. Your skin will look so much better if you cut out gluten. Your overall health will improve without gluten.
But those statements are nothing more than just myths.
We are constantly inundated with messages from the media about the “magic” of a gluten-free diet. While some share accurate information with the masses, many irresponsibly perpetuate a cycle of misinformation, leading to the amplification of the gluten-free diet and the silencing of celiac disease.
An allergy is what results when your immune system is inappropriately activated.
Your immune system is designed to attack bacteria, viruses and parasites. It is not intended to attack the food you eat. But this is exactly what happens with some people. This is called a “food allergy.”
When your immune system is activated, antibodies (also called immunoglobulins) are produced. Antibodies in turn trigger an inflammatory response. Inflammation causes pain and tissue damage, leading to further symptoms. Increased mucous production is another aspect of an immune response.
When a food is broken down and absorbed, it is distributed through your bloodstream to all of your tissues. Therefore an allergic reaction can occur just about anywhere in your body.
We don’t really understand why a food allergy can exhibit itself so differently in different people. However, every individual is unique and seems to have a unique weak point where symptoms of a food allergy show up first.
Most allergists rely on skin prick testing. It is by far the most common type of allergy testing performed in the United States and many allergists do not offer any other types of testing.
Skin prick testing can very effectively determine if the patient will develop a skin rash when challenged with a particular allergen (material). Unfortunately not all allergic responses occur as skin reactions. Inflammation can occur in other parts of the body, and can sometimes occur long after the exposure to the material. Continue reading →
Ideally, to create an optimal IBS diet, all you’d have to do is avoid a certain food or food group to discover whether it was triggering your IBS. Unfortunately this is usually easier said than done.
It takes a great deal of time, persistence, and education to properly construct a diet that will adequately treat IBS. Additionally, proper lab testing can help you avoid all of this.
The purpose of an elimination diet is to identify whether or not specific food groups trigger your IBS symptoms. Essentially, during an elimination diet you stop eating the foods you normally eat until your symptoms improve. If you feel better after you’ve eliminated a food or stopped eating altogether, then you might strongly suspect that your diet is involved. You may have gone on a fast or a cleansing diet, or simply avoided food for a day or two and discovered that your IBS was much better. Of course, eventually you have to eat, and the trick is figuring out exactly what you can eat.
If, when you reintroduce a food, your symptoms return, then it’s likely that the food or one of its ingredients is an IBS trigger for you. It’s sounds simple enough, but it can be a very slow process and very time consuming. And even after going through this process you may still not see a pattern or you may still be confused about which foods are causing your problems.
High magnification micrograph of celiac disease. (img: commons.wikimedia)
A recent article from MedicalXpress.com titled, “The molecular heart of celiac disease revealed” has many folks discussing and debating the various approaches to disease treatment.
I classify this in the realm of “Really cool science and even better marketing, but very little practical significance.” You can’t shut down even part of the immune system without major consequences. Any drug created to treat celiac disease will not change the fact that you will still need to avoid gluten. And avoiding gluten will still be the core component of your treatment plan if you want to be healthy. Otherwise it will essentially be like what we’ve created for treating diabetes. You can take drugs for diabetes, but that isn’t a substitute for a healthy diet. If you don’t eat right, then you still won’t be very healthy.
However, on the up side, they have admitted that celiac disease always first involves an immune reaction to gluten. This is what I’ve been saying all along. Celiac disease is a symptom (consequence) of gluten intolerance/sensitivity. If you don’t eat gluten, then you don’t get the symptom. But where is the drug profit in that?
Australian, US and Dutch researchers have determined the molecular details of the interaction between the immune system and gluten that triggers celiac disease. Their work opens the way to potential treatments and diagnostics.
Monash, Melbourne and Leiden university researchers, in collaboration with colleagues from a Boston-based company, have described the molecular basis of how most of the immune cells (T cells) that induce celiac disease lock onto gliadin, a component of gluten, thereby triggering inflammation of the lining of the small intestine. This is what gives many celiac sufferers symptoms similar to food poisoning after eating a slice of toast.
“We studied how different T cells bind to gliadin, a component of gluten. And when we looked closely we found the docking mechanism was similar. This provides us with a way to develop drugs that might reduce or turn off the immune response,” says Dr Hugh Reid of Monash University. Dr Reid and fellow Australian-based researchers collaborated in the study with Prof Frits Koning from the Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands and with US company, ImmusanT.
Laura is a 35-year-old mother of two who had been experiencing fatigue, headaches, bouts of constipation and diarrhea, and obnoxious bloating. At times she looked and felt six months pregnant due to the bloating.
When Laura first came to see us, she was certain she must have a food allergy or intolerance. She knew she reacted to food, so she assumed food caused the problem, although she couldn’t put her finger on which food or foods were the trigger.
In fact, she told us it didn’t matter what she ate—everything she ate caused problems and she never really felt good. She further noted that fatty foods, sugary foods and raw foods seemed especially problematic, and with those she would feel even worse.
Laura was very frustrated. She wasn’t able to do the things that she wanted.
Her job was being affected because she couldn’t attend meetings as needed. And her social life was just as compromised, because everywhere she went she had to know where the bathroom was located.
Laura said that we were her last hope. She had seen lots doctors, had many tests done, and even had two different colonoscopies, but nothing had helped.
She was told that she would just have to live with her symptoms. Laura found this unacceptable. She knew that there had to be a cause for her symptoms and she was determined to find out what it was.
When we met with Laura, we agreed that there had to be a cause. First we had to narrow down the possibilities.
After testing, we discovered that she did not actually have any food reactions, even though she suffered symptoms from consuming most foods. So there had to be a different cause behind the reactions to the foods she ate.
This may sound confusing, but when a patient says they react to a food, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the food is the original cause of the problem. There are many reasons you can react to foods. Some of them are due to an actual immune reaction, and some are because of other problems that result in feeling reactive to foods. (A glaring example is food poisoning. If you have food poisoning, it’s not the food that is the problem.)
The next step for Laura was to determine why she still felt reactive to foods. After mapping out the ecosystem of her digestive tract, we discovered she had a yeast overgrowth.
There are few issues in medicine as controversial and as misunderstood as yeast. Yeast, commonly referred to as Candida, is usually associated with vaginal yeast infections; occasionally a patient may also contract oral thrush, or Candida of the tongue and mouth.
However, yeast can also over-colonize the digestive tract, such as in Laura’s case, with disastrous results.
Yeast is a common part of the digestive ecosystem, but only in very small amounts. The more territory yeast acquires, the more problematic it becomes. Yeast doesn’t ferment foods in the same way that healthy bacteria does, and this can result in a variety of digestive problems and bloating. Yeast overgrowth can also cause fatigue, headaches and many other ailments.
Once we began to treat Laura for her yeast she immediately noticed a difference. However, yeast is not easy to treat, and it took Laura four months to recover. Each month was better than the last, and now that she has gotten control of her yeast problem she is ecstatic.
Laura no longer has bloating, constipation, or diarrhea. Her headaches went away after the first month, and her energy is unbelievable. With her treatment Laura was able to get her life back, and we couldn’t be happier for her!
For several decades skin testing has been the standard way to test for allergies. The potential allergen is injected under or scratched into the skin, and any resulting inflammation (also known as wheal) is measured. The size of the wheal supposedly determines whether or not an allergy is diagnosed.
This technique leaves a lot to be desired because we don’t inject food into our skin when we eat, nor do we necessarily get a red bump when we have a food allergy. This is also a subjective test. There is no scientific standard for the amount of swelling required for a positive result.
Equally important, this test can measure only an IgE antibody reaction. And even so, it often is negative, missing elevated IgE levels that are evident with a blood test. The IgG antibody is not tested for at all.
Many people are incorrectly told after skin testing that they do not have a particular food allergy. Others seem to react to everything that is tested.
Skin testing is probably relevant only for life threatening (anaphylactic) types of food allergies, but in these cases the patient often already knows that he or she has the food allergy.
A more accurate way to detect most food allergies is through ELISA (ee-LIE-za) testing of the blood. This test measures the actual amount of both IgE and IgG in the blood. ELISA stands for Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay, a big fancy phrase for a laboratory procedure in which antibodies are detected and measured.
This very specialized procedure is performed only by doctors trained in recognizing and treating food allergies. It is run only by specialized labs equipped to handle such sophisticated testing.
(This article is continued from Part 1, found HERE.)
You might think that it’s easy for me, because everyone knows that I don’t eat
the things to which I’m allergic. Yes, it is much easier. Now. But there was a time when people didn’t know. And guess what? I looked and acted like one of those people.
I told everyone that gluten and dairy made me sick. And I never compromised on that stance. I asked lots of questions when I ate out or ate at someone else’s house. Lots of people questioned my sincerity, even family members. Lots of people suggested that I could eat just a little bit or that it wouldn’t really hurt me.
But I kept telling them week after week, month after month, and year after year. And more than that, they saw me not eating those things. They noticed that I wasn’t going to sacrifice my health. And you know what? The longer that I stuck to my guns, the more others began to understand, and the more they made the effort to help me.
This will happen to you, too. But that is the long story. The short one is that you will also be surprised at the number of amazing people out there who are excited to accommodate you right from the beginning. It’s wonderful how it can bring people together when you might least expect it.
You are not alone. I estimate that at least half the population has a food allergy. Unfortunately, most of them don’t know it yet. That makes you a leader. You get to set the example.
And I’ll bet you that just by doing what you need to do to optimize your health you’ll help others become healthier, too. Because they’ll see your example and they’ll wonder, “Do I have a food allergy?”
Don’t sacrifice your health. There is nothing more important than your health, because if you don’t have it, then you can’t help others either. Be one of those people.
I’ll let you in on a little secret. I’m still one of them, too.
Our intestines are a rich and thriving ecosystem…when we are healthy.
The massive surface of our intestines (about the same as a tennis court) provides everything needed for life – space, moisture, and nutrients. Given the ubiquity of anti-bacterial products in our society, many people are surprised to learn that they have about 10 trillion bacteria living in their intestines. But not only do we have bacteria lining our digestive tract, we desperately need them.
There are basically three types of micro-organisms living in our intestines:
Bad bacteria/microorganisms; and
The good bacteria include species and strains that we evolved with, like acidopholus and bifidobacterium. These are an essential part of our digestive systems and we would not survive without them. They help us to digest food by producing enzymes, manufacture some of the essential nutrients that we need to live, assist in the development of our immune system, and prevent infection by occupying the space in the intestines that unwelcome organisms would thrive in, if they could. Continue reading →
As a physician and one who specializes in food allergies and sensitivities, many times I’ve heard patients say, “I don’t want to be one of those people.”
Even a friend of mine said that to me recently. She has food allergies. She really likes how she feels when she doesn’t eat those foods, but she feels terrible when she does eat them.
She is fairly committed to not eating them, but she confided to me that when she was at someone else’s house recently she ate something that she knew she shouldn’t eat. And then what happened? She felt lousy for the next few days. The next words out of her mouth were, “Of course, I had to eat it. I don’t want to be one of those people.”
I said, “You mean one of those people who care about their health enough not to sacrifice it?”
That gave her cause to pause a bit.
If you haven’t looked at it like that yet, then you should. You are punishing yourself.
This begs the question, why do people do this? First, we have to state the obvious: if you do this, it is a clear demonstration that you are afraid to express your needs and to tell people what you feel. That seems strange, but it’s true. Many people are afraid to express to others even simple things like, “I can’t eat that.”
Why can’t people tell their friends that something is hurting them? What is it that makes many people such martyrs?
Are we really willing to do something as dumb as make ourselves sick just to fit in? Unfortunately, the answer is often yes.
It may be that we think that there is shame in being different. Ironically, your real friends really want to know if something is hurting you or if it is not what you want. And if they aren’t your real friends, then you should want to know that information. But maybe that is what people are afraid of: learning that someone doesn’t really care about them as much as they had hoped.
When you stop to think about it, do you really want those people around you anyway? It’s a tough decision, but it’s an important one if you want to take your health seriously and have others take it seriously, too.
It’s also representative of a larger problem. If you can’t even tell your friends, then you probably aren’t going to inform the wait staff at the restaurant, ask the questions that you should be asking whenever you eat out or check the ingredients every time you look at an unknown food item. It’s a slippery slope and all it leads to is you feeling worse and worse.
So how can you get this turned around? Be aware that just because you avoid certain foods doesn’t mean that you’re annoying or that you have to be a jerk about it. It’s simply a statement of fact.
“I can’t eat this.” “It makes me sick.”
“Even a little tiny bit of it will make me sick.”
That is all you have to say. Or you don’t have to say anything. You can simply not eat it. How someone else takes it is a separate issue that gives you insight into their issues, not yours.
Dr. Stephen Wangen is known as the co-founder of the IBS Treatment Center, one of the leading IBS Specialists in the world and a noted author. He will be speaking at a number of events in the coming months. Below are a few of those coming up soon.
Houston Celiac Support Group
When: Saturday, April 26th, 2014
Where: Houston, Texas
NE Seattle Gluten Intolerance, Food Allergy and IBS Support Meeting
When: Tuesday, May 6th
Where: Seattle, Washington
Little Rock Gluten and Allergy Free Wellness Event
When: Saturday, June 21st
Where: Little Rock, Arkansas
Gluten and Allergen Free Expo New Jersey
When: Saturday, September 6th
Gluten and Allergen Free Wellness Event
When: Saturday, September 13th
Where: Virginia Beach, VA
Think of your gastrointestinal tract as a long, muscular tube. This tube starts at your mouth and ends at your anus, and, if you were to stretch it out to its full length, would be about thirty feet long with a surface area approximately the size of a tennis court.
It is a highly specialized organ that is designed to do three very important things: convert food into something your cells can use for nourishment and then absorb it; protect you from invading organisms and toxins; and dispose of a large variety of waste products. It is truly amazing that these three vital functions are performed by one structure.
This tube is so specialized that it actually has its own nervous system, often called a second brain. It also has a significant defense system to protect it from outside threats; in fact, the largest part of our immune system resides in the lining of the digestive tract. And to top it all off, this tube contains a highly evolved ecosystem of organisms which are not only critical to proper digestive function, but which are also a vital part of the defense system. You can start to see that a problem in the digestive tract has the potential to indeed be a very big problem. Continue reading →
Calcium is a very important dietary mineral and obtaining enough through the foods you eat can be a concern for those following special diets which avoid multiple food allergens.
We have patients ask us nearly every day what sort of calcium supplement to take since they can longer eat dairy products due to an allergy. The short answer is: a supplement is probably not required. You can likely get enough calcium from other, non- dairy foods, without taking a supplement to cover your daily recommended intake of this essential nutrient.
Calcium is used by the body for many processes, but bone formation and structural integrity are generally the most well-known. Deficiencies in calcium can result in various disorders such as tooth decay and osteoporosis. Getting a steady supply of dietary calcium helps to prevent these and other health issues. Different amounts of calcium are required at various stages of life for men and women. For adults between the ages of 19 and 50 the recommended calcium intake is 1,000 mg per day.
It is important to understand that calcium is present in a wide variety of foods, not just dairy products. If you can not eat dairy products or don’t like certain foods, you are likely still getting the calcium you need from other, unsuspecting calcium-rich sources.
In order to get the calcium you need, as well as many other important nutrients, it is important to have a varied diet. As long as your diet includes a wide variety of foods, supplements should not be necessary. So enjoy your calcium, even if you can’t enjoy your dairy.
Lactose intolerance is a deficiency in the enzyme lactase. Lactase is the enzyme that digests the milk sugar lactose.
People with a lactose intolerance typically experience an upset stomach, bloating, gas, and loose stools. These are also common symptoms of a dairy allergy.
Many patients complain of a lactose intolerance. They usually say that taking Lactaid or a digestive product designed for lactose intolerance will resolve their digestive problems. However, they obviously didn’t schedule an appointment just to tell me this and they are usually experiencing one of the other symptoms associated with a dairy allergy.
Not surprisingly, the lactose intolerance usually turns out to be a dairy allergy, which is an actual immune response to dairy. The dairy allergy has apparently damaged the digestive tract to the extent that it has caused a deficiency in the enzyme lactase, which is produced by the cells lining the digestive tract.
Many people mistakenly believe that they can continue to eat dairy products as long as they take a digestive aid, or they avoid milk but still eat cheese, etc.
Unfortunately, most continue to suffer from their milk allergy even though their digestive symptoms have diminished. If you have a lactose intolerance and experience any of the symptoms listed on page one then you should be tested for a dairy allergy via an ELISA blood test.
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The Standard Food Allergy Profile test takes the guesswork out of treating your condition and saves you a great deal of time, effort, and discomfort.
If by chance your test happens to be negative, you can quickly move on to other potential causes of your problem without spending valuable time on an unsuccessful elimination diet and then wondering if you actually did it correctly.
Food allergy testing is a highly specialized procedure performed only by doctors trained in recognizing and treating non-anaphylactic food allergies, and only in laboratories especially equipped to handle the sophisticated testing required.
In order to give you an accurate result, this test must be a blood test, and must include both IgE and IgG antibodies.
If it does not evaluate both antibodies, there is a strong possibility that the testing will miss your food allergy. The procedure is neither complex nor difficult.
This blood test measures reactions to approximately 100 common foods, including dairy, eggs, corn, soy, almonds, peanuts, wheat, seafood, and many others. You are not required to fast or to change your diet in any way prior to blood collection. In fact, it is recommended that you not do so.
(However, steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as prednisone and corticosteroids may affect the results, so talk to your medical practitioner about these medications prior to testing.)
From the National Institutes of Health: Title: Good tolerance to goat’s milk in patients with recurrent aphthous ulcers with increased immunoreactivity to cow’s milk proteins.
Authors: Besu I1, Jankovic L, Konic-Ristic A, Damjanovic A, Besu V, Juranic Z.
Recurrent aphthous ulcers (RAU) represent a very common, but poorly understood mucosal disorder. The connection between immunity to cow’s milk proteins (CMP) and oral diseases was noted earlier. The goal of this study was to determine the prevalence of the increased levels of serum antibodies to goat’s milk proteins (GMP), by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test, in subjects who have RAU and proven increased immunity to CMP.
Acne may be one of the most common conditions known to humans. It can be embarrassing, frustrating, and downright unfair. Fortunately, most of the time, it is also avoidable.
The Traditional View of Acne
Most people assume that getting acne is a normal part of life. But why do some people get acne when others do not? And why do certain people have such bad cases of acne? Commercial treatments for acne focus on keeping the skin clean and clearing clogged pores. This sounds reasonable, but again, why do some people have to obsessively clean their skin when others do not? And why do some people cleanse, exfoliate, deep clean and still get acne?
What’s Wrong with this Approach to Acne?
Acne develops from inside the body, not outside. The skin is an organ, and it is an organ of elimination. We eliminate waste products through our skin, just as we lose minerals when we sweat.
Too many toxins inside the body can lead to inflammation in the skin resulting in clogged pores and acne. In order to treat the cause of the acne we must first remove the toxins. Continue reading →
The huge surface area of your digestive tube must be protected against injury from bad bacteria, viruses, parasites, and other toxins that may get into the digestive system with food or by any number of other routes.
The immune system is critically important in helping the intestines respond to these challenges. Possibly the greatest challenge to the digestive tract’s immune system is to correctly tell the difference between what is bad (such as viruses and bad bacteria) and what is good (such as nutrients and good bacteria).
Your immune system must determine whether or not to develop a tolerance to everything you put into your mouth. Whenever you try a new food, it must decide, “Do I like this or do I attack and kill it?” You are always ingesting bacteria and other substances with your food, no matter how fresh and clean it is, so these must be screened out. While your immune system will “okay” most foods, genetic and other issues may affect its decision. Recent studies also suggest that your immune system’s ability to develop correct tolerances depends a great deal on the balance of good bacteria inside your intestinal tract.
When you put something into your tube that the immune system doesn’t like, it attacks by means of inflammation and excess mucus production. If your immune system is continually bombarded with messages to attack, its reactions can have major consequences.
Inflammation of the digestive tube can in turn lead to damage of the lining of this tube, often resulting in something called “leaky gut” or “gut hyperpermeability.” These two terms are simply descriptions of the damage to the digestive tract that is a result of something triggering an immune response.
As kids grow up they begin to make their own choices. In teenage years this often includes more autonomy in dietary choices. Teens have more opportunities to make their own food choices. They often make them in contexts where peer pressure can be part of the equation, such as at school or when out with groups of friends.
A recent study in the UK found what we would predict – teens with allergies need help choosing foods that are safe and healthy for them. Teens tend to make food choices based on taste and other sensory characteristics, rather than focusing on avoiding allergens. Kind of like some adults we know. Interestingly some of the teens reported feeling safer and more comfortable when parents are choosing their foods.
We all know that being different can be tough, especially for teens. If you have a teen who has food allergies make sure you give them the tools to make good choices and find ways to fit in with their peers as they do so. Their health depends on it.