Food Rotation for Allergies
May 13th-19th is Food Allergy Awareness Week, an important week because 15 million Americans are struggling with food allergies. Food Rotation is one way to identify your allergies.
How an old technique is helping people feel better
Food rotation is a method of removing possible food allergens that was borne out of the Environmental Medicine trend of the 1940s in Texas led by Theron Randolph MD, Natalie Golos and Frances Gobitz, and Dr. Doris Rapp.
In the 1980s I got very sick with symptoms that included a series of respiratory and digestive issues. I was repeatedly admitted to the hospital, lived on prednisone and in one year spent 100 days in the hospital. As it turned out, my asthma was being severely exacerbated by food allergies which I had not previously identified, read more about my story here. Finally, I took matters into my own hands. During these pre-internet years, I would visit the library to research and read books on food allergies from the 40’s. I discovered what is called a “Caveman diet.” The principles of this regimen instruct a patient to begin with eating a meat from a specific animal family, a vegetable from a botanical family, and the same with one fruit and one grain. The next day one selects a different animal protein, as well as different (unrelated) veggie, fruit and grain, and so on.
Only four foods a day and I did that for 2 years! I kept a food and symptom journal and by myself was clearly able to identify what caused me to be sick and to what degree. Moreover, this process of food rotation helped my immune system rest and recover as I eliminated the causes of my illness. This process allowed me to identify the harmful foods containing allergic hormones and inflammatory chemicals that were causing an overload on my immune system. I was able to mitigate them. Within those two years, I memorized every botanical family that we consume and I am happy to report, I help many patients find their way out of food sensitivities and allergies. Not only did I feel much better, I dropped 20 pounds as a direct result of avoiding harmful food allergens.
A sad fact is that today, food allergies are on the rise, here are some grave statistics:
Food allergies are more common today than they were 20 years ago.
- The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention report that between 1997 – 1999 and 2009 – 2011, food allergy prevalence among children increased by 50 percent.
- In the United States, the prevalence of childhood peanut or tree nut allergy appears to have more than tripled between 1997 and 2008.12
- The prevalence of childhood food allergy has increased at a rate of 2.1 percent per decade among blacks, 1.2 percent per decade among Hispanics and 1 percent per decade among whites, according to a study of self-reported allergy.
Fast forward we now have amazing medical technologies to help us identify food allergies and sensitivities. Knowing your food allergies you now can do a rotation diet that involves removing an allergen and rotating it back anywhere from 6 months to a year to never depending on the severity of the allergy. For some people, certain food allergies can be life-threatening so they should never be reintroduced, but for mild allergies, this is a perfect way to lighten your allergic load and let your body heal without histamines.
Through my own experience, I lost weight due to the huge amount of histamine and water weight in my body. For most of my patients, I see a drop of about 4 pounds of water from excess histamine in the body once they remove the offenders. If they accidentally ingest them the scale will pop back up. This is a tell-tale sign that there is a particular food allergy or sensitivity lurking in the kitchen. Rapid weight gain is less likely to result from binging 14,000 calories in a single night than from ingesting some offending food. The purpose of food rotation is not to lose weight, but dramatic moves of the scale clearly point to water weight from histamine and water retention.
To distill this down to basics for you, I guide patients to first get rid of the big offenders for a period of three months just to reset their body. It is vital to go cold-turkey – no cheating allowed.
These primary foods are the biggest culprits: gluten, dairy, coffee, soy, strawberries, peanuts, corn, eggs, chocolate, bananas, shellfish and sometimes vegetables in the nightshades family.
Since a caveman diet can be challenging, I usually start patients with an elimination diet as this is easier to follow. Most importantly, you should only embark on the Caveman diet while under the supervision of a doctor, dietician or someone like me who has 30 plus years of both professional and personal experience with food allergies. I work with physicians who routinely send me patients to assist them in navigating the maze of food families and how to properly eliminate and rotate.
For people who just want a healthy reset and are not suffering from allergies, they can also start by eliminating the key allergenic foods and chemicals. Sometimes people will have a reaction to hidden triggers that sneak into our systems like gluten on a postage stamp, MSG in tuna fish, maltodextrin in just about everything including your vitamins and a variety of food additives in all sorts of unsuspecting places.
Patients on a food rotation diet should keep a detailed food journal as it helps them become acutely aware of their symptoms, their mood and other physical conditions connected to diet.
Patients can learn a lot about this diet as a way of understanding signs and symptoms of foods that bother them as well as the intimate relationship between the foods they eat and their physical well-being. It isn’t just the bloating; symptoms like headaches, joint aches, dullness and other symptoms lift off once you start an elimination and food rotation diet. Little by little foods can be reintroduced a week at a time to make sure there is no reaction. Patients can also learn about new foods as it breaks their routine of eating the same food which probably led to their allergy in the first place. Patients also feel so much better getting rid of foods that made them feel bad. Learning about various food families and experimenting with new varieties of foods can be exciting. Plus, you’ll be eating just like great-grandma did which is why she was healthier than you.
If you can’t figure out why you’re not feeling well or suspect something you’re eating is making you sick, or suspect you have allergies, contact the office to schedule an appointment either in the office or via an online appointment.