Detoxing for Allergies   Leave a comment

Now that my spring detox is long done, I’ll finish reporting my research on the detox diet that I use. The post Inflammatory Meats and Carbs covered one reason for the dietary restrictions during a detox (giving the body a break from foods that can promote inflammation), but there are other reasons as well. Cutting out synthetic additives (and “natural” additives, because they’re not exactly natural) is kind of obvious, as is cutting out alcohol and caffeine. Eating organic to avoid possible pesticide residues is another gimme. Eliminating these foods from your diet for a week or two is not going decrease any bioaccumulation of toxins or affect chronic problems associated with toxins, but it’s the theme of the diet: Give Your Body a Break!

The other major reason for the detox diet is to avoid food allergens. Unfortunately you’d have to stop eating to completely avoid food allergens since it is possible to have a food allergy/intolerance to just about anything. Believe me, I know. (I mean who is allergic to summer squash?! Other than me of course.) There are a handful of foods that make up the vast majority of food allergies/intolerances including wheat, milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, and soy. Some of the compounds that cause problems in wheat are also found in grains like oats, barley, and rye. Problems with milk can include all dairy, not just plain milk. And of course there are plenty of less common food allergens like citrus fruits, strawberries, and nightshades. For the purpose of the detox diet I cut out all of the Big 8 listed above except the peanuts and nuts since I need a crutch if I’m going to avoid pasta, crackers, and cheese for several days.

There are two reasons to eliminate potential allergens from your diet. One is to give your body a break (remember, it’s the major theme of the diet). My understanding is that the prevalence of allergies/intolerances has been increasing over the past couple decades and while there are lots of theories about why, this goes under the category “we’re not really sure”. So maybe giving your body a break once a year from common allergens could improve your chances of not developing an allergy/intolerance. The other reason is to conduct an elimination test to determine if you have a food allergy/intolerance. You might not know because the symptoms might be something that you are used to or would never connect to a specific food. Symptoms that may be caused by food allergies/intolerances include nausea, gas, diarrhea, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, cramps, nasal congestion, cough, sinusitis, skin rashes, eczema, dermatitis, hives, and headaches, among others.

The length of the detox diet depends entirely on which of those reasons is the most important to you. The “give your body a break” reason is a short one week detox that allows your body to completely eliminate all traces of those foods (3-4 days) and then rest a couple of days. The elimination test is more rigorous and much longer. An elimination test starts with a two week period of avoiding the selected food(s) to allow symptoms to clear up, then there is a period of gradual reintroduction that is prescribed and lasts at least another week during which you pay attention to any reoccurrence of symptoms.

After all this research into the physiological reasons for the detox diet, I have to note that there’s also a psychological aspect to the detox diet. For me any way, it just feels good. I can’t say that my body physically functions better, but in my mind it does. Mentally I get that boost that reminds me that I am/can be healthy. Other people have relished the psychological feeling of victory at having the self-discipline to eat a restrictive diet for a short period of time. Or it can be a psychological stepping stone on a journey to improving your lifestyle.

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Posted May 8, 2010 by mayakey in food, health

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