A key part of relieving the symptoms of common food allergies or intolerances is identifying the foods responsible for the distress. That’s why I always recommend trying an elimination diet. Elimination diets take time and patience, but what you learn from doing one can be invaluable in your efforts to effectively treat food alleriges or intolerances. Here's how to do it:
- Keep a diary. For at least two weeks, write down everything you eat or drink. Take note of how much you eat and when, how the food was prepared, and how you feel throughout the day and even the next day.
- Remove potentially offending foods. After those two weeks, start your elimination diet by removing common foods from your diet—one at a time—for two to six weeks per food item. Note any improvement in your symptoms and keep careful track of which food eliminations preceded the improvements. If your food allergies are severe, once you've identified your personal food triggers, avoid them permanently. If your symptoms are mild to moderate, you can move on to the next step...
- Reintroduce foods. Reintroducing foods helps you confirm your triggers by re-evaluating your body’s response to them. To do this, add each of your potential trigger foods back into your diet, one food per day. Eat the suspect food as part of at least two meals that day, making sure you don’t introduce other potential allergens at the same time. Record the date and time you reintroduced each food, and note any immediate and delayed reactions that you experience. If you confirm that a reaction is linked to a particular food, eliminate it from your diet permanently. Before you reintroduce any new food, make sure that you have been symptom-free for at least two days. Repeat this testing with all your suspected trigger foods until you figure out exactly which ones cause your symptoms.
Tips to Treat Food Allergy Symptoms
Once you have identified all your food triggers, I suggest the following six tips to improve the function of your digestive system. Doing this can also effectively alleviate the most common symptoms of minor food allergies and intolerances.
Alka-Seltzer to the Rescue
For temporary relief of non-serious food allergy symptoms brought on by mistakenly eating one of your trigger foods, simply take a dose of Alka-Seltzer Gold or Alka-Aid. Both of these products are alkali compounds and can help fortify your stomach acid buffering system, which should minimize absorption of allergens into your bloodstream. If you take one at the first sign of symptoms, you should start to see an improvement within 10 or 15 minutes.
Boost Low Stomach Acid
Inadequate production of hydrochloric acid by the stomach is a frequently overlooked cause of food allergy symptoms. That's because when there isn't enough acid in the stomach to properly break down food, "foreign" protein molecules can reach the bloodstream and provoke an allergic reaction.
I recommend supplementing with betaine hydrochloride, which you can get at health food stores. One really important point to remember here is to take one or two tablets after you eat, not before or during your meal. You want your stomach to produce and secrete as much acid as it can before adding additional acid.
Take Digestive Enzymes
An insufficient supply of digestive enzymes is another often ignored cause of food allergies and food intolerances, since the body can't properly digest foods without them. To help improve your ability to breakdown troublesome foods, try taking two tablets of digestive enzymes about 30 minutes before meals and two more about 10 to 15 minutes following a meal.
When shopping for a digestive enzyme product, look for one that contains enzymes to help you digest the three main types of nutrients: proteases (for proteins), lipases (for fats), and amylases (for carbohydrates).
Add Activated Charcoal
Another approach to handling offending proteins that the body can’t break down is to use a substance that actually absorbs or binds with the problem protein and allows it to safely pass through the digestive tract without provoking food allergy symptoms. One such substance is activated charcoal. Activated charcoal suspended in either plain water or a sweetened solution is available over the counter. To be effective, it generally takes a fairly large dose, so 60 grams of activated charcoal for an adult isn’t uncommon.
Include Targeted Nutritional Support
The following nutrients are helpful in strengthening your body’s ability to tolerate allergenic foods without overreacting to them:
- A high-potency daily multinutrient
- Bioflavonoids—500 to 1,000 mg twice a day
- Mineral-buffered vitamin C—2,000 to 5,000 mg a day in divided doses. (Cut back if you experience stomach upset or diarrhea.)
- Pantothenic acid—250 to 500 mg twice a day
- Flaxseed oil—1 to 2 tablespoons per day
Rotate Your Plate
Rotate the foods that you are able to eat so that you don’t consume any particular item more that once every four days. Include beverages, condiments, and oils in this rotation strategy. Preventing overexposure to foods in this way will decrease your sensitivity to them and also reduce your chances of developing food allergy symptoms.