For an in depth look at food allergies, testing and treating allergies see the chapter on Allergies in my book, Treating and Beating Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Food allergies are a big problem in my fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) patients. Most of these allergies are unknown and unrecognized by the patients. I have found that uncovering these allergies and avoiding the foods yields significant improvement in their symptoms. It doesn’t have to be a full-blown allergy. Even a sensitivity to foods can trigger symptoms, and avoiding them as well can be helpful in the long-term.
Food allergies are rarely acknowledged by conventional doctors. Research and diagnostic testing, however, validate what health experts have known for a long time, which is that food allergies and sensitivities play an important role in our overall health. James Braly, MD, says:
“The thinking of the majority of health professionals, including allergists and dieticians, is some fifteen to twenty years out of date when it comes to food and allergy.”
This is a profound statement. Food allergies go hand in hand with intestinal permeability, which is a huge problem in most fibro and CFS patients. Proteins go undigested and are then deposited into any bodily tissue that is available to them. This then creates an inflammatory allergic response at the site of the deposit, especially the muscles, joints, brain, and heart.
Symptoms of food allergies include fatigue, headaches, depression and anxiety, bloating, IBS, stomach pain, sinusitis, chronic pain, and many other problems including:
- rheumatoid arthritis
- ear infections
There is some degree of error in every allergy test. FICA and ELISA tests are the most precise, but even they are only 85% accurate. It is common to get false positives on these tests, so the gold standard for finding sensitivities and allergies is the two-week elimination diet.
I would recommend that everyone do this diet. We ingest an absurd amount of toxins every day, most of which comes through our food, so this diet will not only help \ detox your body of these toxins, but also help you determine which food products may be causing your body to function “sluggishly.”
The diet is a challenge, but the trick is to keep snacks with you at all times including at home, in the car, in your purse or briefcase, in the office, and anywhere else you can stash them. Don’t be dragged down by the short-term inconvenience of the diet. The long-term results will be well worth it.
Over the next two weeks, eliminate the following from your diet:
- Dairy products (except butter) including cheese, milk, ice cream, and yogurt
- Soy products (check labels)
- Gluten products including wheat, barley, oats, spelt, kamut, and all flours.
- Corn and corn-related products
- Nightshade foods including tomatoes, peppers, white potatoes, eggplant, and tobacco. Nightshades cause joint pay because they have a poison that is similar to belladonna.
How to Pinpoint the Allergy or Sensitivity
After two weeks, your body is cleared of all the above foods and products. Now it’s time to challenge one food group at a time, starting with dairy. For just one day, eat three servings of dairy products while avoiding all the other groups. Then, go back to the complete elimination diet for three days. Make note of how your body responds during these three days. Write it down! Food allergies are delayed reactions, which is why you have to wait three days before starting the next challenge.
Challenge the next group the same way, and do this for all groups. Eat three servings of the foods in that group for one day and then stop for three days, noting any reactions. Continue to stay away from all the other food groups in the elimination diet while challenging each of the groups. Remember, it’s very important to always wait three days before challenging the next group so you can accurately determine reactions.
If you notice a moderate or severe reaction to any food group, eliminate them entirely for at least six months, if not for good. After six months, you can slowly reintroduce them into your diet by eating one small serving for one day and then wait four days to see if you have a reaction. If not, then introduce another food from the group the same way. Keep these foods at a minimum if you are going to work them back into your diet.
If there is only a mild reaction, avoid the food group for a period of one to three months, and then reintroduce the foods slowly the same way as above.
The number one thing you need to do to reverse chronic pain, low moods, fatigue, and fibro fog is to eliminate these allergies and sensitivities, which will reduce your symptoms by at least 50%. If you don’t eliminate these food allergies, then you will not be able to effectively treat your symptoms and you will have very little chance of reversing your fibromyalgia.
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