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Allergies and Diet - The Elimination Diet 



Allergies are what happen to us when our immune systems react in a harmful way to substances in our world. There are two main avenues to take to decrease or remove these allergies. The first is to figure out what substance or substances are causing the allergic reaction. The second method is to build up our immune system so that it does not overreact to the allergic substance.

Nobody really knows why some people have allergic reactions and others do not. Many researchers believe that our susceptibility to allergens is something we inherit from our parents. However there is a mountain of evidence that points to the introduction of certain foods, such as cow’s milk, too early in the diet of an infant. This is at a time when the baby’s immune system and intestinal tract are as yet undeveloped. This may inflame responses in the baby’s tissues leading to allergic reactions later in life. In the same way, allergies of the respiratory system and problems with the skin can begin at that young age when the baby’s immune responses are not able to properly process foreign allergens.

The most dependable test for identifying offending allergens is to eliminate the substance (be it a chemical compound, pollen or food), and then observe whether or not the symptoms disappear and health is increased. If an allergen is discovered, one can then add the substance back into one's environment or diet to see if the allergy returns. This will provide confirmation that the diagnosis is correct. It should be clear to us that removing the offending allergen is also the ultimate (and only) treatment to cure the allergy.

While allergies can be caused by many substances, the first place we should look is the food we eat. Two reasons make this true. First of all, we have absolute control over what we eat. Once the offending food item is identified we can then remove it from our diet. Secondly, it is a good bet to suspect our food. It is obvious that food is the most diversified, intimate and frequent contact with the world around us. We interact with the substances in our food, molecule for molecule, more than with water or air. The complexity of the substances we interact with through foods is greater by many magnitudes than for substances found in water or air.

Even problems with allergies, which on first glance appear to be due to substances other than foods, such as pollen, are often improved by changing our diet. Our immune system is capable of going only so far in processing allergens from diverse sources. If our immune system is overwhelmed, we should take steps to reduce its burden in any way we can - such as eliminating all dairy products. Then our immune system will be better able to process environmental allergens such as pollen.

We should significantly reduce or entirely eliminate environmental allergens, whether in foods, what we drink or in the air we breathe. Most persons will eliminate their food allergies simply by going on a whole foods, plant-based or vegan diet for the fundamental reason that five of the main causes of food allergies are removed immediately when we make this change. These are dairy products, eggs, chocolate, nuts, shellfish and fish. If our allergies continue, then the next foods in line to remove are wheat, corn, citrus fruits, tomatoes and strawberries. These are the most common allergens in foods that come from the vegetable kingdom.

Allergy Diet Recommendations

As a rule of thumb, if you are unable to determine a specific cause for any health problem, then we should suspect that it is due to a food allergy. We must then search for the offending food. Using diet to manage food allergies is the most sensible and safest method you can apply for testing and treatment. Take drugs to control your symptoms only as a last resort.

To identify an offending food it is important to go on an elimination diet. At the end of one week of this diet, most persons will see their symptoms disappear if the problem was due to foods. During the period of the elimination diet, foods need to be cooked thoroughly because cooking changes the proteins in them making them less likely to create an allergic reaction.

The Elimination Diet

Cooked Starches: Brown rice, puffed rice, sweet potatoes, tapioca rice flour, taro (poi), and winter squash.

Most Orange, Yellow or Green Vegetables-All Cooked: Such as lettuce, beets, beet greens, spinach, chard, asparagus, summer squash, string beans, artichokes and celery.

Most Fruits - all cooked - no citrus: Such as prunes, peaches, plums, papaya, cherries, cranberries and apricots to name a few.

Condiments: only salt is allowed. This means you must avoid vinegar, mustard, salad dressings and so on.

Beverages: water only.

After one week of eating this way, your food allergies should have disappeared and you should be feeling good. If this is true, then begin the process of adding foods back into the diet one at a time. As each food is added, watch for allergic reactions. While in the testing process, each new added food should be consumed in large quantities three times daily for two days.

If there is no reaction from the added food, we can conclude that it is safe to eat. Each food must be introduced one at a time. When an allergic reaction occurs to a specific food, then you must wait five days before testing the next food. This interval of time allows our body to clear the allergic food.

This article was adapted from an article by Dr. John McDougall, MD.  Dr. McDougall has been a champion of diet as the cause and cure of most of our western systemic diseases such as heart disease, allergies and diabetes.  You can read more about Dr. McDougall’s starch-based diet at www dot drmcdougall dot com.  Thousands have found relief from their debilitating health problems by following this easy program.


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