For the past year and a half, I have been adhering to the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. However, I was basically stuck at step one and only able to tolerate beef, chicken, carrots and squash. Almost every new food or supplement I tried to introduce caused a reaction. While the SCD helped me transition to some healthier foods, it was not the solution for my leaky gut.
As an attempt by my functional medicine doctor to find the root cause of my ongoing food reactions, she ran a very comprehensive food allergy test from Dunwoody Labs. They test for not only the usual IgG and IgE antigens, but also IgG complements (which make the reactions worse) and IgG4 antigens which can both block IgE reactions and cause problems on their own.
The results were extremely revealing. Guess what one of my very high allergen foods is? Beef. Also very high… squash. So, why was I able to eat these foods seemingly with no reaction?
One useful analogy, and it makes sense, is that the body can only tolerate a limited amount of inflammation before you get a reaction. Let’s call this the inflammation “bucket.” My consumption of chicken was causing no reaction, carrots just a little, and beef and squash were causing a lot. My bucket was nearly full but not overflowing. All it took was one more food of even a low allergenic property though to fill up the bucket and make me sick. By removing the beef and squash, I should have way more headroom to eat foods of low or even moderate inflammatory potential and not experience a reaction because the level in the bucket is so much lower.
How does this pan out in practice? Dunwoody Labs compares all the different types of reactions across all the foods they test and creates lists for you of completely safe and moderately safe foods, as well as those you should definitely avoid. Since I’m in bad shape, digestively speaking, we will only focus on the completely safe list for now. This list only contains about 24 foods that I could actually eat. Wow, that’s not many! Keep in mind that I’ve had a chronic, untreated, leaky gut that has progressively worsened over 30 years and I’ve spent over a year eating only four foods and before that, almost four years eating mostly three foods. Twenty four foods is like a whole new world of culinary delights for me!
I’m not going to give you the entire lists, but I can provide some highlights (or lowlights as the case may be).
First, the worst offenders. These are things I should probably never, ever eat for the rest of my life: beef, basil, black pepper, cow’s milk, goat’s milk, eggs, peas, oregano, peach, pork, shellfish, spinach, squash, tea, tuna, and vanilla.
Second, the good, safe list. These foods I can eat with no limitation right now: broccoli, celery, cherry, chicken, cucumber, grapefruit, grapes, orange, mushroom, peanut, pear, pineapple, plum, rice, sunflower seeds, sweet potato, white potato, tomato, and whole wheat.
There are a wide range of foods I didn’t mention that fall into the moderate allergen category and I may tolerate them in rotation after I get better. This includes many fruits, vegetables and nuts.
For whatever reason, I can tolerate some of the known allergenic offenders like peanuts and gluten. Yay, me. However, some of the other big, bad allergens like milk, egg and shellfish would take me down, so it’s a mixed bag.
Beyond all the theory of food allergy testing, how’s it going? Well, I removed beef first and then squash, and I’m cutting back on carrots. I’ve added a lot (for me) of new foods including wheat, peanuts, oranges, grapefruit, raisins, prunes, rice, potatoes, sunflower seeds, and pears. So far, nothing has made me sick, even though some of these foods caused reactions less than a year ago. Apparently, beef was a serious allergen for me and removing it allowed for the introduction of many other foods in its place.
This is fairly new territory for me and hopefully the beginning of a healing journey. There are other treatment methods that go along with my diet. I’m doing things like PEMF therapy, heart rate variability training, and meditation. I will explore those therapies in a future blog post.