Celiac disease is a malabsorption syndrome and chronic digestive disorder. The intestine is not able to absorb vital dietary nutrients from foods containing gliadin, an alcohol-soluble portion of gluten. This condition which is often hereditary means the sufferer has a serious intolerance to wheat (including durum, semolina and spelt), rye, oats, barley, and related grain hybrids such as tritaclae and kamut.

Arthritis refers to inflammation of the joint. The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis which is characterised by joint degeneration and loss of cartilage. Rheumatoid arthritis is a type of inflammatory arthritis which is also an autoimmune disorder. In this case the body's immune system attacks its own cartilage and tissue surrounding the joints.

Some detoxification experts advocate fasting, while others do not. It is known that the components of any well-designed detox program will stimulate the body to cleanse itself, but people who are underweight, are undernourished, have weak hearts, have blood sugar issues or are ill should avoid fasting. Some studies have shown that restricting food intake can actually lead to bingeing.

Hemorrhoids are extremely common in industrialised countries and it is estimated that fifty percent of persons over fifty years of age have symptoms of hemorrhoidal disease. Although most people may begin to develop hemorrhoids in the twenties, the symptoms do not become evident normally until in ones thirties!

Minimising food sensitivities and allergies

This following extract has been used with the permission of the author, Maria Middlestead and it is extracted from her book 'The Shape Diet' which is published by Penguin Books 2004. We highly recommend this book.

How to minimise food allergies / sensitivities and deal with the ones you have?

  • Eat from a wide variety of wholefoods. Refer to the sections on Carbohydrates, Proteins, Fats, Food Options and Substitutions. Make a list of all the different food choices which suit you. Couple this with an objective look at the supermarket and health-food store. Try one new food and/or recipe per week.
  • Rotate food choices. People with food sensitivities who eliminate a known allergen can then overemphasise a narrow band of other foods. This can create new sensitivities. In terms of rotating proteins for instance, have chicken one night, fish the next, a vegetarian dinner, then red meat and so on. Work similarly with starchy carbohydrates such as preparing rice one night, then potatoes, next buckwheat, chickpeas, corn pasta, millet and then lentils. All body-types can benefit from this approach as part of their maintenance programme.
  • Minimize distractions like TV, radio and telephone while eating. Sit, Relax. Chew thoroughly. Enjoy your solitude or your company. Do not drink with meals. Neither exercise vigorously after eating nor lie down within three hours. If any type of indigestion – reflux, bloating or queasiness – or bowel problems continue, discuss the use of enzymes and other supplements with your health practitioner.
  • Each day eat ample soluble and insoluble fibre to help the liver and bowel’s numerous detoxification pathways. Ensure adequate intake of micronutrients, especially B vitamins, zinc and magnesium.
  • Minimise all forms of refined sugar – consumption lowers white blood cell function. Minimise poor quality and poor proportions of fats to discourage inflammation.
  • Drink sufficient beneficial fluids for your body-type and exercise regularly. This increases the lymphatic system’s elimination of wastes and ability to vigorously defend against invaders.
  • Keep clean, avoid infections and ensure easy, daily bowel elimination. This lowers the number of pathogenic challenges to an overworked immune system. Wash hands well before contact with food.
  • No smoking, alcohol abuse or unnecessary dependency on antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. These particularly encourage gut permeability. With your health professional check for parasites, yeast overgrowth and consider the use of probiotics.
  • Eat some raw food each day for its enzyme content, especially the richer sources such as avocado, pawpaw, kiwifruit, mango, pineapple, banana, fresh figs and bean sprouts.
  • Regularly eat sprouted, fermented or cultured foods which are ‘predigested’ by these transforming processes. Ideally these products should be unpasteurised, sugar-and additive-free forms of yoghurt, cheese, Essene and slow-rise sourdough breads, bean and other sprouts, tempeh, miso, fish sauce, soy sauce, sauerkraut and kimchi (see Carbohydrates – Shopping and Preparation Tips).
  • Be prepared when away form home. Keep a small bag of nuts or other suitable snack in your handbag, car or workplace. This prevents finding yourself hungry when there are no appropriate food choices available.
  • Before dining at a friend’s home or other function with a limited set menu, have a snack at home. This will prevent excessive hunger, which- along with alcohol-can promote overindulgence of stressful foods. There is considerable choice available in most restaurant menus and any good chef can tailor something to your needs. Hotels are particularly experienced with special dietary requests.
  • When a special function is on the horizon, be especially careful with your food choices for 4-7 days before and after the event. This will increase your body’s tolerance and lessen any stressful after effects. Unless you have a strong allergy, at special functions enjoy a small protion of food which you normally avoid. Do this from a relaxed, socially accommodating perspective. If you start to feel a compulsion to overindulge: pause; breathe deeply; leave the room if necessary. Ask yourself which course of action will give you the greatest long-term pleasure. Remember that your ‘favourite treat’ is the sustaining satisfaction of physical and psychological good health.
  • Enjoy life and minimise stress – these states are essential to good digestion, a vigorous immune system and just about everything else. Read and action successful psychological strategies. Make a list of your top-priority new behavioum, such as time out for yourself and time in nature. Diarise how and when you will implement these behaviours during the week. Adopt one or two new behaviours at a time. After a month of regular implementation, adopt a new behaviour.
  • Remember that you are not alone in having a special diet-everyone should one. Each person should be discerning and specific regarding what is truly suitable to the unique blend of factors that is any individual human being.

This extract above has been used with the permission of the author Maria Middlestead and it is extracted from her book 'The Shape Diet' which is published by Penguin Books 2004. We highly recommend this book.

What are Allergies?

Allergies are a normal physiological process to the world around us, and within us. We interact with foods, chemicals and other substances such as microbes and moulds every day, whether by ingestion, inhalation or physical contact with the body’s tissues. Our body’s immune system is designed to correctly identify and differentiate between self and nonself—that is, between what our body needs and what is foreign to it. When it encounters foreign substances, it reacts by making antibodies or releasing certain chemicals, such as histamines. The problem arises when we have an inappropriate response, or "hyperresponse." Then the antibodies attach to the antigens, causing a variety of internal reactions.

The most obvious and well known allergic reaction is an anaphylaxis reaction, which can be life threatening and is a medical emergency. The most common agent for this type of reaction are insect stings, medications and blood products.

Besides the normal allergy conditions that many think of such as hayfever, skin rashes or reaction to medications, many health conditions may be related to allergies: asthma, bladder infections, candidia infections, canker sores, colic, depression, diarrhoea, ear infections, eczema, gall bladder disease, irritable bowel syndrome, headaches, psoriasis, sinusitis and ulcers. Many of these conditions are caused by food allergies. Even situations that one would normally mistakenly attribute to passing viral infections or recurrent “colds”.

The following conditions may also be related to allergies and other sensitivities:

  • Gastrointestinal symptoms
    Vague gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms (such as abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and diarrhoea) that are not caused by serious disease can sometimes be triggered by food sensitivities.
  • Multiple Food Protein Intolerance (MFPI) of infancy
    Many infants who are intolerant to one food have been found to also be intolerant to several other food proteins, including soy formula and extensively hydrolyzed formula. This syndrome has recently been dubbed Multiple Food Protein Intolerance (MFPI) of infancy. As a group, these infants tend to have symptoms of severe colic, gastroesophageal reflux and esophagitis (inflammation of the esophagus due to irritation by stomach acids from repeated episodes of reflux), or atopic dermatitis (eczema).
  • Multiple chemical sensitivity
    Multiple chemical sensitivity, also known as idiopathic environmental intolerances, is a poorly understood and controversial chronic disorder in which a person may have a variety of recurring symptoms believed to be due to reactions to very small amounts of substances in the environment. Avoidance of these substances, though often difficult, has been reported to bring at least partial relief, and psychological counselling has also been reported to be helpful.
  • Musculoskeletal pain (including back pain)
    Eating allergenic foods has been reported to produce a variety of musculoskeletal syndromes in susceptible people.
  • Leaky gut syndrome
    Allergy to food has been associated with increased permeability, or “leakiness”, of the intestine. Some alternative health practitioners believe this increased permeability, sometimes referred to as the “leaky gut syndrome”, is an important treatable cause of food allergy. However, the reverse may also be possible. Allergic reactions in the intestine tend to cause temporary increases in permeability, which would explain the apparent connection between the two. More research is needed to better understand the role of intestinal permeability in the development and treatment of food allergies.

Diagnosis and Pharmaceutical Interventions for food allergies

Food tolerance test
Testing for food sensitivities can be done by using a food tolerance test that combines IgE, the first antibody produced in an immediate allergic reaction, with IgG, the antibody produced in a delayed hypersensitivity reaction. Delayed hypersensitivity reactions are not commonly tested for by a standard clinician, and reactions cans take several hours, days, or even weeks to appear.

Elisa testing for IgG and IgE
The latest exacting technologies in laboratory medicine are now available to measure (from small blood samples) our immune system response to over 100 foods. The actual levels of IgE and IgG antibodies against these individual allergens can be precisely measured. These tests can help you discover with ease what you need to avoid or what you can include in your diet and environment to minimize allergic reactions and allow your body the time to rest and heal.

Using state-of-the-art ELISA testing, one can identify and quantify both serum IgE and IgG antibodies in response to foods. At the lab, the blood serum is added to numerous vials, each containing a single food to be tested. After a period of incubation, an enzyme is added to each vial. This enzyme identifies any antibodies that have reacted with the food. Enzymes that have not identified the antibody-food reactions will be washed away. Last, a colour agent is added to each vial. This colour agent will bind with any enzyme that is left in the vial. The degree of colour in each vial - measured with an optical density reader - determines the degree of antibody activity. The darker the vial, the more antibodies. The more antibodies, the stronger the possibility of that food causing a hypersensitivity reaction in your body.

Elimination and reintroduction
Many consider a reliable way to determine a food allergy is to have the patient eliminate a suspected food from the diet for a period of time and then reintroduce it later. Once a food is eliminated, the symptoms it may be causing either improve or resolve, typically after several days to three weeks. The body then becomes more sensitive to the food, so when the food is reintroduced, the symptom is more likely to recur. This tool shows with a high degree of certainty which foods are problem foods, as the patient will directly experience the problems after eating the food. The testing requires a great deal of patience and, as with all other forms of allergy testing, is best undertaken with the help of a physician who can monitor the diet. Reintroduction of an allergenic food has been reported to lead occasionally to dangerous reactions in some people with certain conditions, particularly asthma—another reason this approach should not be attempted without supervision.

Scratch testing
This form of testing is one of the most widely used. A patient’s skin is scratched with a needle that contains a portion of the food, inhalant, or chemical that is being tested. After a period of time, the skin is examined for reactions. If there is a reaction, it is determined that an allergy exists. Although this test is accepted by most allergists, scratch testing is subject to a relatively high incidence of inaccurate results, with some tests showing positive when the person is not truly allergic to the substance (false positive) and some tests showing negative when an allergy really exists (false negative).

Pharmaceutical Interventions
There are many medications targeted to respiratory allergies and hayfever. Most of these are antihistamine in nature. Examples are Zyrtec, Clarinase, Telfast and Claratyne. They can produce side effects of drowsiness and fatigue, nausea/vomiting, and sometimes stomach upset. They should not be used by women who are breast feeding or infants.

Other medications that may be given or taken do deal with the problems from allergies that are not quite so obvious are antacids for stomach upset, NSAIDS to deal with joint pain and antidepressants to deal with stress. (top)

Lifestyle and Dietary Modifications

See above information: How to minimise food allergies / sensitivities and deal with the ones you have

Nutritional Factors Shown to be Beneficial for food allergies

Probiotic support: Probiotics may be important in the control of food allergies because of their ability to improve digestion by helping the intestinal tract control the absorption of food allergens and/or by changing immune system responses to foods. Probiotics may also be important in non-allergy types of food intolerance caused by imbalances in the normal intestinal flora. Dose: 1–10 billion live bacteria daily

Dietary enzymes: According to one theory, allergies are triggered by partially undigested protein. Proteolytic enzymes may reduce allergy symptoms by further breaking down undigested protein to sizes that are too small to cause allergic reactions.
Dose: 1-2 capsules with meals

Betaine HCl: Hydrochloric acid secreted by the stomach also helps the digestion of protein, and preliminary research suggests that some people with allergies may not produce adequate amounts of stomach acid.
Dose: The amount of betaine HCl used varies with the size of the meal and with the amount of protein eaten. Typical amounts recommended by doctors range from 600 to 2,400 mg per meal.

Vitamin C: Vitamin C is a natural antihistamine, and can help with the immune problems that some people with chronic allergies face.
Dose: 3-6 grams a day

Glutamine: Glutamine, an amino acid, is the preferred fuel for the cells of the gastrointestinal tract, which may be under constant attack when faced with food allergies. It can reduce intestinal permeability, which contributes to "leaky gut syndrome". Glutamine may also play a role in supporting the immune system.
Dose: 2-4 grams a day

Nettles (Urtica dioica): Nettles have long been used to treat respiratory allergies, and have an antihistamine effect.
Dose: 2-4 grams a day

Quercetin: Quercetin is a flavonoid found in fruits and vegetables. It is anti-inflammatory and can reduce the histamine reaction found in most seasonal allergies.
Dose: 400-500 mg three times a day

Plant Sterols:Sterol compounds from plants, naturally occurring fats also called phytosterols, have been shown to have significant activity in humans. It is a natural immune modulator, helping to provoke a stronger response of the T-helper cells, which are very active cells needed during some conditions, in particular chronic allergies and infections.
Dose: 100 mg three times a day, away from food and dairy products