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Can Food Be Making You Sick?

It seems that no matter what the event these days, there is food criteria to attend to. From your child’s school, to the local restaurant, to friends and family, food sensitivities are knocking on your door. Food sensitivities effect so many people that they can’t be ignored.

The CDC, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, reports, “allergies are the 6th leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S. with an annual cost in excess of $18 billion…50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year”.  According to FARE, Food Allergy Research & Education, food allergy facts and statistics in the United States, there are “more than 170 foods that have been reported to cause reactions in the U.S.”.

PUT A CHECK IN EACH BOX BELOW THAT APPLIES TO YOU:

◊  Depression and/or mood changes

◊ Anxiety

◊ Muscle aches or joint pain

◊ Nasal congestion

 ◊ Constipation and/or diarrhea

 ◊ Acid reflux/indigestion

 ◊ Bloating or gas

 ◊ Dark circles or bags under your eyes

◊  Headaches

 ◊ Rashes or skin dryness/itchiness

 ◊ Fatigue

 ◊ Unintentional weight gain

Did you check one or more of the symptom boxes above?

You could be suffering from food sensitivities.

ARE YOU SUFFERING FROM FOOD INDUCED INFLAMMATION?

Do you feel like your weight fluctuates or you just can not get rid of the those unwanted pounds. Do you feel like you have done it all and you just can’t lose the weight? This can be truly frustrating indeed!

Food sensitives cause inflammation in the body. This Inflammation increases our risk of developing disease, ultimately obesity.

Although we hear food allergies and food sensitivities interchangeably, they do differ. How do we know which one we are suffering from?

There two types of food mediated reactions, immune mediated and non-immune mediated

Immune Mediated:

  • Food Allergies

Non-immune mediated:

  • Food Sensitivities
  • Food Intolerances

Food allergies are known as IgE, immunoglobulin E, mediated type 1 hypersensitivity reactions and are generally immediate in response. These bodily reactions can range in severe such as hives to more critical in response such as anaphylaxis and can be fatal. Some of the most common allergy foods include tree nuts, peanuts, eggs, fish and shellfish, milk, gluten, and soy. Foods that we are allergic to must be avoided and can not even be consumed in even small quantities.

Food intolerances are non-immune related and are a result of a metabolic reactions such as a lack of an enzyme to digest the foods such as lactase. When this happens, they are considered intolerant and will no longer be able to digest dairy foods.

Food sensitivities are delayed in onset, up to 72 hours or more, and are non-immune mediated reactions and are a result of an ingested food. Food sensitivities maybe present as any of the following conditions:

  • Crohn’s disease
  • GERD
  • Irritable bowel disease/diarrhea/constipation
  • Migraines
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Eosinophilic esophagitis
  • Arthritis
  • Attention deficit disorder
  • Eczema

Food sensitivities can be the body’s response to a chemical naturally occurring in a food such as solanine, histamine, and salicylates. These reactions many times are dose related and sometimes can be consumed in small amounts but when a threshold is reached, a reaction occurs. Each person’s threshold will be different and some people may need to remove this these foods from their diet to become asymptomatic.

4 COMMON CAUSES FOR FOOD SENSITIVITIES 

  • Leaky gut! When our intestinal barriers break down from bad bacteria, parasites or infections passing through, this is considered leaky gut. When this happens, our immune system becomes compromised and food particles can enter the circularity system and create systemic inflammation. Sometimes these foods that cause our body havoc and can be difficult to assess because these reactions are often delayed. Food sensitivity testing can be done to help us get a baseline for what these foods may be. Elimination diets are implemented to remove those foods for generally 6-8 weeks to essentially calm or better yet reduce the inflammatory response.
  • Chronic antibiotic use. The use of antibiotics sometimes can’t be avoided, but this can compromise the immune system. Antibiotics kill off the bad bacteria it was intended to but also do a number on the good bacteria that keep the ecosystem in balance.
  • Chronic stress and toxic exposure. Every day we breath in air, drink water, and eat food that have chemicals and pesticides that our liver has to work overtime to filter out. This insult can result in toxic overload causing us to feel fatigue and run down. This can impact our immune systems negatively making our bodies even more susceptible to food sensitivities.
  • Too much of one food. Ever think about how many times you eat the same food in one day? Let’s look at a scenario that can be commonly seen in many diets.

EGGS! Breakfast time, you eat 2 eggs over easy over paleo bread (made with egg whites) and butter with a piece of fruit. Lunch time, Chicken cranberry walnut salad made with mayonnaise (this contains egg), over bib lettuce. Snack: RX bar (contains egg). Dinner meal consists of veal parmesan (breaded and dipped in egg) with green beans. Sometimes we can eat a particular food in a small quantity but when we are exposed to it multiple times in one day we can hit our threshold. In this case, it would have been 5 times in one day!

CAN DIET REALLY MAKE AN IMPACT ON OUR HEALTH AND SIGNIFICANTLY IMPACT OUR DAY TO DAY SYMPTOMS?

Yes, changing your diet can be life altering!

5 COMMON FOOD SENSITIVITIES FOR YOU TO CONSIDER

  • Histamines. The most common symptoms of histamine sensitivity include itching and headaches. Foods to consider reducing or eliminating from your diet plan include aged cheese and meats, citrus, spinach, bananas, and fermented foods and many spices too!
  • Solanine. A common symptom of solanine sensitivity is muscle and joint pain. I find that this is one of the hardest groups to decrease because it contains tomatoes and potatoes, in other words, tomato sauce and french fries!! Other solanine rich foods include eggplant, goji berries, and peppers.
  • Sulfites. Common symptoms of sulfite sensitivity include difficulty breathing or wheezing, loose stool or trouble swallowing. Sulfites can be found naturally in food or added as a preservative. Foods that contain sulfites include dried fruits, shellfish and crustaceans, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage Brussels sprouts, premade packaged foods such as instant potatoes and doughs, and malt beverages and wines.
  • Soy. Soy sensitivity can manifest itself in different ways in each person. Some symptom may include flushing, lip swelling, loose stool or abdominal cramping. Soy is found soybeans, bean curd, edamame, miso, natto, soy sauce, soy milk, many vegan products and additives such as TVP (textured vegetable protein).
  • Gluten. Common symptoms of gluten sensitivity may include brain fog, rash, loose stool, and bloating. Gluten can be found in breads, cereals, premade packaged foods, veggie burgers, breaded meats and meatballs, malted products, make ups and

Rather than guessing what these offending foods are, we can get this information from food sensitivity testing.

The FIT test (Food Inflammation Test) measures 132 foods, colorings and additives that can result in delayed food sensitivity. The FIT test is unique in that it measures IgG antibodies along with complement that is produced from immune complexes as a result of food that crosses through the intestinal lining. It is also a great way to understand if you have a leaky gut and if it’s causing food sensitivities.  Learn more here.

As a Nutritionist, I knew a lot about food but removing my food sensitivities was a true eye opener for me and one of the largest positive impacts I made on my health and well-being.

 

 

Keri Lynn MacElhinney, RD, CDN, CLT, IFNCP is a Functional Medicine Nutritionist at Blum Center for Health.  She has over 20 years of professional experience as a Registered Dietitian and holds a nutrition license in New York and the State of Connecticut. In her early years, her field experience covered a wide array of areas including acute care hospitals, community health centers, substance abuse.  Make an appointment with Keri Lynn at 914-652-7800.

 

 

 

 

 

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5 Tips To Control Your Allergies From An Integrative ENT

Tips to beat allergies

Allergy season is upon us, and for those of us troubled by seasonal allergic symptoms, it’s still not too late to find help.  While nothing substitutes creating a pre-season allergy plan, here are some useful tools that might give you relief.

Stay Indoors.  Check pollen counts on the radio or internet before you leave the house in the morning. (Great source: www. Pollen.com). Though pollen levels vary over the course of the day, a pollen count (the measure of pollen levels and type in a given area over the preceding 24 hours) can tip you off when it’s particularly hazardous outside. Many people start having trouble when the count reaches the 20 to 100 grains per cubic meter range. Note that the time of day when levels are highest is from 5:00 to 10:00 am and early evening. The time of day when levels are lowest is from mid- to late-afternoon.  If you must be outdoors, shed your clothing before you bring the allergens into the house, and immediately jump into the shower.

Try Nasal Irrigation.  Cleaning the nose with saline spray will decrease the amount of allergen that gets into your system. I like the squeeze bottle variety, such as the Neil Med brand – simply mix the enclosed packets with distilled or boiled water. Then, bend your head forward, and while squeezing the bottle into one nostril, pant like a puppy – it will keep the solution out of the back of your nose, so you can avoid that drowning feeling. You can find nasal irrigation kits at your local pharmacy.

Take Herbs or Supplements that Reduce Inflammation. Inflammation is one the biggest contributors to the allergic process in the body right behind repeated allergen exposure. Probiotics, Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, herbal blends, such as Natural DHist or Histaeze, and homeopathy, such as Sabadil and Histaminum, can all be used to control and prevent symptoms. For dosing, check instructions on the package – some need to be given in higher doses first to attain a loading dose. Also check for any interactions with medications that you may be using.

Consider Immunotherapy. Allergy shots are a conventional option that can be useful, however, there is a new hot option for the allergy prone: Sublingual Immunotherapy. You simply place drops under the tongue that act like allergy shots, which reduces the immune response to the allergen. Like allergy shots this kind of treatment requires weeks to months to become effective. The great thing is that making allergy drops the foundation of your pre-season allergy plan changes your potential to have allergies for years to come. These can be useful for adults or children with allergies, and no shots in the arm! And for children, it can prevent the “allergic march” – the tendency for children to progress from eczema to allergies and then asthma later on in life.

Leverage Diet to Reduce Allergy Symptoms. Even if you don’t have food allergies, eating a healthy diet keeps inflammation at bay – and makes you less prone to an allergy attack even if it’s your worst season. The Mediterranean Diet is a great anti-inflammatory diet. It is a sensible way to eat overall — reducing your animal based proteins, increasing your grains, vegetables and plant based proteins.  Of course, be sure to avoid foods that you are allergic to.  And remember, the body recognizes certain foods as the same allergen that is produced by certain trees.  If you have birch allergy, for example, you might find that you get an itchy mouth to “stone fruits” – apricots, cherries, plums, peaches – as well as to apple and pear.  These symptoms can be worse if the birch tree is in bloom.  You can find lists of cross-reactive foods at:

https://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/library/allergy-library/outdoor-allergies-and-food-allergies-can-be-relate

Wondering if you have food sensitivities? You might want to follow our 21-Day Simply Detox Plan. With our program you will discover, through a process of elimination and reintroduction, exactly which foods you have sensitivities to. You’ll detox your body and walk away with your own personalized food plan. The Do-It-Yourself E-Guidebook helps you every step of the way with daily instructions, a healthy eating food plan, and easy-to-follow recipes. Learn More 

 

Meet Dr. Gereau: Sezelle Gereau, MD, is an integrative ENT/Allergist with more than 20 years of experience. She uses an integrative and functional medicine approach to conditions such as allergies, chronic sinusitis, sleep apnea and headaches. She is one of the few physicians in the New York City metro area certified to prescribe allergy drops.

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3-Steps to Finding Chronic Headache Relief

Find Chronic Headache Relief

 

Headache blogger Kerrie Smyre expresses the sentiments of many with migraines or other forms of chronic headache.  “Headaches steal so much of your life. The list is long, but includes jobs, relationships, having children, self-respect, ambition and identity”.

Headache symptoms can vary from a dull ache, to razor sharp pain that stops you in your tracks. Even the simplest headache can be life altering.  In making your way through treatment options, often there aren’t good choices– either the medications don’t work, or they work for a while. And then over time, you find yourself taking more and more medications, which can also end up paradoxically being the actual cause of (rebound) headaches themselves!

There are many different triggers for headaches, and uncovering the cause of yours is essential to finding the cure. Many of our headache patients come in thinking that their sinuses are the cause.  Usually they are not!

The 3-Prong Approach to Alleviating Chronic Headaches 

IDENTIFY THE TRIGGERS:

Could It Be Food?– There are many foods that can cause headaches. Unfortunately, they are not universal. For one person it may be raw onions, for another it could be vinegar, red wine and aged cheese. Just as every person is different, so are individual triggers. The good news is that a skilled practitioner can help identify your triggers and help you remove them.

Could It Be Non-Food Lifestyle Triggers? – There are a significant number of lifestyle triggers that are often overlooked as a cause of headache. For instance, do you get a headache if you don’t wear sunglasses? How about going in and out of air conditioning? Again, just as with food triggers, it is possible to figure this out and then help you make a personalized plan.

Could It Be Stress? (Particularly if you say you don’t have any!) – Stress and headaches often go hand-in-hand. It does not have to be acute stress (“Oh my gosh, I’m so stressed?”) It is also related to long-term, under-the-surface stress, like financial pressure, a troubled relationship, or putting off life decisions. It is important to work with a practitioner to learn mind-body tools to help you relax for headache prevention, and also for in-the-moment when-you-need-it-most stressful situations.

Could It Be Hormones? – Many women find that headaches are in some way related to their cycle. Once you and your practitioner determines that this is the issue, these kind of headaches can be treated easily with herbs that help balance your hormones.

Could It Be Toxins? – Toxins like pesticides, heavy metals, and plastic residues can build up in both your body and your brain, and trigger headaches. A skilled Functional or Integrative Medicine practitioner can evaluate your toxic load and then help you reduce the toxins in your body and treat your headaches with a detox program that provides supplements and a food plan to help support the liver in doing this important toxin-clearing work.

Could It Be A Structural Issue? – A common cause of headaches for many people is an issue in their musculoskeletal system. Problems like TMJ (temporomandibular joint inflammation), neck issues, myofascial pain syndromes (muscle pain in the scalp, shoulders and neck radiating up into the head) and others, can all be causes of headaches. Once we figure out this is the issues, we can treat it and the headaches can be gone for good!

Could It Be Sinusitis? – Of course it could be! But now you know that there are many other possibilities and we need to check for them all. However, sinusitis remains on the list and if it turns out this is the culprit, there are great herbal and alternative ways to treat this other than antibiotics. Also, food and environmental triggers are often an underlying issue, and these can be treated as well.

2. WORK WITH A HEADACHE PROFESSIONAL

It takes skill and experience to create an individualized plan. At Blum Center for Health, while all the practitioners treat headaches, it is a particular focus of my practice. I work with my patients to uncover and treat the underlying causes. Remember, it is critical to find someone who will be your partner – if they are only throwing medication at the issue, walk away!

3.  STAY COMMITTED:

It takes vigilance and attention on your part and mine to discover all the triggers that contribute to your headaches, but it can be done and I can show you how. Most importantly, once this is sorted out, you will have the tools and strategies you need to remain headache-free.

Ready to take aim at your headaches? A great place to start is with our 10-Day or 30-Day HealMyGut program — it’s a total gut reset with a nutritional plan, recipes, just-right supplements, daily email support, and a private online community. Our 30-Day program includes the added bonus of a weekly chat with our Functional Nutritionist to answer all your questions. Find out which program is ideal for you: Take the Assessment

Meet Dr. Gereau: Dr. Gereau is an Allergy and ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) specialist who uses an integrative and functional medicine approach to conditions such as chronic sinusitis, allergies, sleep apnea and headaches.

CLICK HERE to learn more about Dr. Gereau.

 

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What’s the Difference between a Food Allergy and a Food Sensitivity? An Interview with Sezelle Gereau, MD

There’s a lot of buzz these days about food allergies and sensitivities. There’s a lot of confusion too. We spoke with our resident expert, Sezelle Gereau, MD, to learn the difference between the two and why it matters.

What is the difference between a food allergy and a food sensitivity?
When one is allergic to a food the body recognizes it as a pathogen, and goes through a set of immunologic responses to attack and contain it.  They can be life threatening, as we recognize with children and peanut allergy.  While sensitivities can be uncomfortable, they do not trigger the immune system in the same way.  So, one can be either allergic or sensitive to a food, although the two are often confused.  For example, one can have a true allergy to milk, or a lactose intolerance, which is more of a sensitivity and not a true allergy.

If a food sensitivity does not trigger the immune system in the same way as a food allergy then why are they so uncomfortable?
Sensitivities are different, both in their symptoms and their underlying mechanisms. Most commonly one will present with gastrointestinal symptoms such as gas, cramps, bloating, heartburn, headaches, or irritability. Some will complain of brain fog and fatigue. The most common food sensitivity is lactose.  Sulfites and alcohol are other frequent offenders.

What about gluten?
Common, but not as much as generally thought by the public, is gluten sensitivity – you can be allergic to wheat, or have a sensitivity to gluten. A gluten sensitivity is not a true allergy, but can trigger a set of responses that feel like an allergy.  Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease also related to sensitivity to gluten, but again, not an allergy. It is important to know if one has gluten sensitivity, as it can lead to issues in other parts of the body, such as your thyroid gland.

Do we outgrow allergies and sensitivities?
One can outgrow food allergies. Many children have food allergies early in life, and they commonly outgrow them by about age 8.  Food sensitivities are idiosyncratic, and there is no specific pattern.  The best way to train your body to outgrow both allergies and sensitivities is to eliminate the food completely.  Sometimes foods can be re-introduced on occasion without adverse effect, but if one has a severe reaction it is recommended that you completely eliminate these foods from your diet for good.

How do I know if I have an allergy or a sensitivity?
There are a number of ways to test for food allergies, including blood tests such as IgE or IgG.  You may have heard of the ALCAT or MRT testing.  Your doctor may choose to do any one of a number of these, and each has its pros and cons – but the best way to understand if one is allergic or sensitive is to eliminate the food strictly for 3-6 weeks and then reintroduce it in small amounts, one by one over a series of days and observe for reactivity.

When should I call a doctor?
Many times a functional medicine doctor, such as one of our doctors at Blum Digital, LLC, can help you sort out these issues.  They can help you start to grapple with your reactions and relationship to foods.  A comprehensive history with some additional testing can help one to understand if this is truly reactivity to foods, or if something else is out of balance in the body.

What’s new and exciting?
An exciting new treatment available for food allergy is allergy drops – which offers a way to eliminate the allergy entirely, not just control symptoms.  It is safe and effective for both adults and children. Come in for a visit if you’d like to learn more.