Of course, many of us may eat a healthy diet of wholesome foods and don't have those bad habits. I also see people often who exercise and eat well, and are still not well. The next level then is to look at food reactions. This typically occurs from the most common foods we eat and the most common food available in society, that is wheat, cow's milk, and sugar, followed by eggs, corn, soy, and peanuts. My recent book, The False Fat Diet (Ballantine Books, 2000), is all about the many ways we react to foods and the great variety of health conditions caused by these reactions. Following the healing dietary and supplement programs of avoidance and challenge will help discover the individual reactions and needs of each person.
The Sensitive Seven*
Wheat, Sugar, Cow's Milk, Eggs, Corn, Soy, Peanuts
*The seven most common food reactions, mainly due to the persistent intake of these foods in the diet and as the base of most processed foods.
Food reactions are quite common and often result from digestive dysfunction. There are many factors that cause the breakdown in optimal function of the gastrointestinal tract. Overeating, too many foods combined at once, incomplete chewing, drinking too much while eating which dilutes the digestive juices, and chronic stress all weaken our ability to digest foods thoroughly. Furthermore, many people have an imbalance of intestinal flora, where they have killed off their healthy bacteria from overuse of antibiotics, which is common in modern medicine. Other irritating bacteria may flourish, or fermenting types of yeast organisms or parasites will take up residence within our intestines. These cause an irritation of the membranes, and this affects our proper absorption of nutrients, causing abnormal absorption of larger molecules, often referred to as "leaky gut" syndrome. Allowing 'toxins' to enter the blood stream can affect our brain function, mood, and energy level, and cause secondary immune and biochemical reactions to these toxins. Our digestive tract has the highest amount of immune activity of any area in the human body.
Testing is available from naturally oriented physicians as well as some chiropractors and acupuncturists who have studied about gastrointestinal function, nutritional medicine, and ecology. Most standard medical doctors haven't gone to this level of health knowledge to be able to help in this more subtle and preventive (not-yet-diseased) states.
Healing the gastrointestinal tract is paramount to regaining our overall health. I discuss in Chapter One of The Detox Diet, the 5R program for re-establishing digestive health.
Rebalance – your diet and your lifestyle. In other words, you may need to eat differently and live more healthfully, even thinking in a more positive way. Your digestion is so sensitive to your stresses and emotions.
Remove – any offending organisms. This can be done with herbal medicines or pharmaceuticals. Abnormal yeasts and parasites are quite common in these modern times.
Replace – any needed digestive enzymes or hydrochloric acid (low stomach acid leading to improper protein digestion is quite common and undermines health).
Reinnoculate – the right bacteria, such as lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria, to create the best environment for your digestive tract.
Repair – by providing all the right nutrients to help heal damaged membranes and allow optimal function again. The amino acid l-glutamine is helpful, as are the B-vitamins, vitamins C, A, and E, zinc, plus many others.
Food reactions are generated through multiple systems in our body – digestive, immune, biochemical, and hormonal – causing bloating and swelling in the body and gut, plus many other possible problems. These reactions caused by an allergic or depleted system make us more sensitive to environmental toxins. Allowing these reactions to quiet and clear can help those suffering from them to feel much better rather quickly. Following an elimination diet, avoiding our habit foods or commonly eaten foods as well as the most reactive foods, is part of this Purification Process.