Sunday, August 7, 2011

What To Eat When You "Can't Eat Anything Part" 1: Restrictions, Rules and Diet Rotation

By Candice, Spirochicks contributor
Originally posted on Infectiously Optimistic 

It's possible that my personal diet has the longest name out of all documented diets known to man-kind.

I am on a gluten free, multiple allergen free (dairy, soy, corn, nightshades, fish, egg, nut, onion, garlic etc.), sugar free, organic, blood sugar friendly, rotation diet that follows the principles of food combining and contains enough calories to gain and maintain weight.

Is your head spinning yet? Mine was.

At first, all of the restrictions and the many complex rules made me want to run and hide in the corner with a bushel of celery and a bag of rice cakes. Yet, once I took a deep breath and assessed the situation, I realized that my diet was merely just another puzzle. All puzzles have solutions.

And guess what? It's working.

Where to Begin

First, you and your doctor, naturopath, nutritionist or chiropractor must figure out your personal food sensitivities. Most often, gluten, dairy, soy and sugar are the instigators in inflammatory responses in the body. Additionally though, we all have at least a few odd foods that our body specifically can't handle. Some of us with impaired immune systems end up having more additional sensitivities than we can count on all twenty fingers and toes. It's crucial to use your practitioner's help in figuring out what those are. For me, either Autonomic Response Testing (ART) or bioenergetic screening methods such as ZYTO have been most helpful.

Why Do I Have Food Allergies?

Most of us are aware that food allergies and sensitivities cause inflammation, but many don't realize that food allergies are often the result of pre-existing inflammation within the body. Typically, this pre-existing inflammation has been caused by immune dysfunction or an immune system invader, such as a toxin, bacteria, fungus or parasite. An immune response to a toxic or infectious invader often begins in the digestive tract, where 75% of your immune system resides, and irritates the lining of the intestines.

Our intestines are built to both fuel and protect the body. They have the ability to allow essential tiny substances into the blood stream, such as nutrients like amino acids, fatty acids and minerals, but they also have the ability to block larger more harmful molecules that we ingest from being absorbed into the blood stream. Yet when your intestines become inflamed, the spaces within the intestinal lining separate, and the larger unwanted molecules residing in our digestive tract are allowed to pass through. This means that when we consume foods that are difficult for our body to process or that cause inflammation (like wheat, corn, dairy, soy, nuts, etc.), the lining of intestines separate further and undigested particles of food are allowed to pass into the blood stream, along with intestinal bacteria, viruses, fungi and toxins. The body sees these large molecules as harmful invaders and it triggers an antibody response, even if the particle is merely food. The antibody response evokes detrimental cytokines and oxidants, which create a myriad of unpleasant symptoms and systemic inflammation. This phenomenon is known as intestinal permeation, or Leaky Gut Syndrome.

My What is Leaking?

Intestinal permeation, or "leaky gut syndrome", sounds like the butt of a silly joke (no pun intended). Yet, Leaky Gut Syndrome and food allergies are no laughing matter. The symptoms of food allergies often go undetected or are mistaken for other conditions, therefore allowing the undetected reactions to deteriorate the lining of the intestines and further inflame the rest of the body, including the brain. Not only is the digestive system responsible for providing the nutrients and fuel that the functioning of your entire body depends on, but it also has a direct effect on our neurological health. When the epithelial cells of the digestive walls become inflamed, the epithelial cells of the blood brain barrier also become inflamed, therefore leaving our brain susceptable to the toxins, infection, and inflammation that have been released into our bloodstream. (4)

Food allergies and intestinal permeation produce a myriad of symptoms, some of which include stomach pain, rapid heart beat, hot flashes, bladder disfunction, sinus issues, migraines, brain fog, and chronic pain. While these symptoms are concerning, the real danger lays behind the affects on the body that you can't feel or see. Some people with food sensitivities claim that consuming potentially allergenic foods really don't noticibly bother them, but what they are unaware of is the silent suppression of their immune system, the destruction of the villi in their intestines, or the weakening of the central nervous system. The resulting damage and inflammation slowly and stealthily weakens the body, therefore leaving it susceptable to serious health effects such as malnutrition,  heart disease, and even cancer. In order to repair inflammation and damage and strengthen the body, complete elimination of allergens and sensitivities, as well as a rotation of "safe" foods, is key.

Rotation Diets

Eliminating and abstaining from allergens is key in healing the immune system, digestive system, and inflammation throughout the body, including the brain (2) . In an informative article about gluten sensitivity, nutritionist Donna Eden writes "Studies have shown that the smallest amount of gluten, say a cracker the size of 1/8 of your thumbnail, will have a prolonged inflammatory effect in the body for up to 6 months after ingestion if you are gluten sensitive." (3)

After one fully masters the elimination of gluten and other allergens from their diet, it is helpful to consider rotating foods. Rotation aids in the healing of the immune system and widespread inflammation, and is also critical in preventing the development of new or additional sensitivities, as well as maintaining your list of "safe" foods. (2) When a patient's intestines have permeated, undigested food particles leak into the bloodstream until the gut has a chance to heal. By rotating foods from a patient's "safe" list, negative immune responses to a particular food is less likely, therefore reducing the likelihood of the development of a repetitive and chronic immune response. The body typically takes 4 days to rid a food from its system and regenerate histamine, therefore a four day food rotation diet allows the body to build tolerance and strength while eliminating the damaging effects of a histamine related or immunological response. A 4 day rotation diet allows the body to breathe and heal, therefore providing an opportunity for a stronger immune system, digestive system, and nervous system. 

What To Eat When You Can't Eat "Anything"

So, you have your list of allergies and your list of "safe foods" in hand. You also know that your digestive system is impaired (and you may feel as though someone sucked the energy out of you with a vacuum cleaner). This begins to look like a recipe for starvation. I'm here to tell you though that it doesn't have to be. Personally, through allergy elimination, food rotation, and proper food combining, I have been able to reduce inflammation, reduce my allergen list, and gain some much needed weight. And, I never go hungry. 

Food combining is optional and can complicate an already challenging diet plan, but it can also greatly aid an impaired digestive system in processing food and quieting digestive upset. When our digestive system is overtaxed by infection, inflammation and toxicity, it stops producing adequate amounts of the the acid and enzymes required for proper digestion. When we consume carbohydrates and protein at the same time, they each require an ample amount of a different kind of digestive enzyme. These two enzymes cannot effectively be produced together, especially in an impaired digestive tract. Protein requires the production of the enzyme pepsin, and carbohydrates require the production of pytalin. When produced at the same time, they cancel each other out and further reduce stomach acid, making digestion even more difficult. For the rules of food combining, scroll to the bottom of the page or check out a detailed article here.

I've gone to my favorite allergy friendly foodies to round up some recipes that are friendly to an allergy elimination and rotation diet. Tailoring recipes to fit your specific needs is important though, so keep in mind that this is just a sample of the many possibilities of diet rotation. For example, some recipes may include garlic, which you may be sensitive to (as I am). Exercise your creativity and find what works for you. Here, I've used a 4 day rotation diet as a relaxed framework to present the rockin' recipes. You'll want to spend more time on your rotation diet though, in order to be sure that you aren't repeating or over-consuming any foods or ingredients from your "safe" list. So, don't be afraid to swap animal proteins, grains or oils in the recipes in order to fit your four day rotational needs. 

Stay tuned for Part 2, which will be posted tomorrow, Monday August 7th. Part 2 will include a complete list of 24 recipes (with a few delicious pictures), sample rotation diets, and a few tips and tricks. Check back soon!



1 comment:

Alix said...

Candice, thanks for explaining all about food intolerances and the rotation diet. I learned a lot and now have teeny bit better idea of how to feed you, though it's still intimidating! Stay tuned, folks, for Candice's recipes - you won't believe how good "can't eat anything" can taste!