Finding out which foods are right and which are wrong for you is the key to health and performance. By Roger D. Deutsch
Eating healthful food is one thing, but eating in accordance with your own, unique, genetically determined biochemical makeup is quite another. Foods compatible with your makeup will increase your strength and energy, while consumption of foods or added chemicals that your body perceives as harmful will result in intolerance reactions.
Food intolerance induces the excessive generation of toxic-free radicals and inflammatory chemicals. The damage can result in a wide range of health problems. In contrast with “true” allergy — whereby a few molecules of peanut may, for example, induce anaphylaxis — the sheer magnitude of exposures to intolerogenic foods, despite its less dramatic flare (pun intended), render food intolerance far more common.
Allergy vs. intolerance
The biological cause of true allergy has been known since 1967. An immune system structure called IgE plays a central role. A small amount of allergen interacting with IgE can trigger the release of chemicals that create allergic symptoms. Many people react to animals, pollens, and, in rare unfortunate cases, foods. Food allergy symptoms are quite dramatic, and intentionally so, as this pathway represents the body’s natural defense against large parasites, such as helminths.
Unlike other pathogens (i.e., viruses, bacterium), these parasitic worms are significantly larger than the cells that protect against them. Hence, the body’s immune defense against them must be very strong, which is why an allergy produces such dramatic symptoms.
In contrast, intolerances to foods follow different pathways, and symptoms are dose related, chronic, and delayed. Consequently, most people are unaware of their food intolerances. Offending food may be tolerable until such time as a chemical naturally occurring within the food, or that has been added, exceeds a certain threshold. Many athletes consume energy bars that are complex. In general, the modern diet is very complex and certainly not what our ancestors have been exposed to for a sufficient time for us to adapt. Hence, even “normal” foods may be simply unfamiliar to us from a genetic point of view and aggravate the immune system.
Another consequence of the modern diet is that the nutritional cofactors required for hepatic biotransformation are lower in commercially grown produce. When chemicals in foods (naturally occurring or otherwise) cannot be adequately detoxified by the liver, the immune system is called to action. This “total load” is further impacted by the integrity of the gut membrane, which under normal circumstances forms a natural barrier. Infection, an imbalance in gut flora, antibiotics, cortisone (exogenous or endogenously produced by excessive stress), and hormones used in birth control compromise the gut barrier.
Classical, or IgE allergy to food, has been recognized for centuries. The first recorded anaphylactic reaction to egg occurred in the 16th century1 and fish-induced allergy was reported in the 17th century.2
However, the more recent development of other nonallergic adverse reactions to foods, including food intolerance, only began receiving recognition following the work of Chicago-based allergist Theron Randolf in the 1950s.3
Modern agriculture causes modern diseases — inflammation
The link between food intolerance, chemical sensitivity, and the dramatic increase in degenerative diseases seems to coincide with the consumption of junk food. When low-quality and noncompatible foods are avoided, inflammation resolves, weight normalizes, and a number of other inflammatory-based health problems subside.
As seen from this necessarily simplified analysis, adverse food reactions may be toxic or nontoxic reactions. Toxic reactions occur in anyone, given sufficient exposure. Nontoxic reactions occur in susceptible individuals and may result from chemicals occurring in items such as aged cheese and chocolate and may involve either immune mechanisms (allergy or hypersensitivity) or nonimmune mechanisms. The former are referred to as “hypersensitivities,” the latter “intolerances.”
Food intolerances are most common and most likely caused by pharmacologic activities of chemicals that naturally occur in or are added to food.
However, some intolerances result from inherited enzyme deficiencies and thus remain fixed. Some reactions are exacerbated by poor digestion related to intestinal disorders or the overwhelming of specific detoxification pathways that are rate limited.4 Hence, addressing these underlying issues can result in tolerance of moderate quantities of the food.
Because numerous and varied mechanisms play a role in the pathogenesis of adverse reactions to foods, definitive identification of offending foods relies upon provocation of symptoms following oral challenge under double-blind conditions — not always a convenient option. Various serum tests exist, but are of questionable value. Whereas testing serum levels of allergen specific IgE is a useful test for classical allergy, it is of limited value for identification of foods and chemicals associated with intolerances that are not IgE mediated. Rather, a useful test for intolerances would have to measure the direct effect of the food substance on the very immune system cells responsible for these intolerances. It should show a good correlation with clinical symptoms, as confirmed by double-blinded oral challenges.
Previously, childhood diabetes was exclusively of the type 1, autoimmune-based type. The consequence: high blood sugar levels and tissue degeneration. Now, due to overactivation of the innate immune system and food intolerances, so called “adult onset” diabetes occurs even in children.
Adult onset diabetes is not autoimmune per se, but occurs when insulin receptors on muscle, the liver, and the brain lose effectiveness. Insulin resistance is the hallmark of metabolic syndrome.
Initially, insulin is produced, but it cannot sufficiently facilitate the uptake of glucose because of the insensitivity of the insulin receptors. The pancreas then produces increasing quantities of, but lower quality, insulin and blood sugar levels increase.
Interleukin 6 and tumor necrosis factor alpha block insulin receptors. Glucose is stored in adipocytes (fat cells), which in turn produce these very same mediators perpetuating the cycle of inflammation, muscle degeneration, and inefficient metabolism.
The foremost approach to achieving health, leanness, and improved energy and strength should be dietary — emphasizing healthy, natural, nutritious food along with exercise, stress management, intestinal health, and adequate nutrition.
Foods that act as triggers require proper identification and avoidance. Testing of white blood cell reactions is the best approach. It reflects pathological responses to foods mediated by immunologic, nonimmunologic, and pharmacologic, as well as toxic pathways.
A nutrition response test is a scientifically validated approach that exhibits the highest degree of correlation with blinded challenges and is the most accurate.5 Symptom resolution, normalization of weight, and broad clinical correlation affirm this as a most beneficial tool to be added to any health and sports regimen.6
Roger D. Deutsch, president and CEO of Cell Science Systems Corp., is co-developer of the ALCAT Test and has performed pioneering research in the field of food and chemical sensitivity testing for more than 24 years. He can be reached at 800-872-5228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
**To read some food intolerance effects that may be of interest to athletes, visit www.ChiroEco.com/intolerance.
1 Harper DS. Egg?—Ugh! In: Avenberg KM, editor. Footnotes on Allergy. Uppsala: Upplands Grafiska AB; 1980. p.52.
2 Cohen SG, Saavedra-Delgado AM. Through the centuries with food and drink, for better or worse II. Allergy Proc 1989;10:363-73.
3 Bruijnzeel-Koomen C, Ortolani C, Aas K, et al. Adverse reactions to food. Allergy 1995;50:623-35.
4 Deutsch, R. The Right Stuff: Use of Alcat testing for determining dietary factors effecting immune balance, health, and longevity. Anti Aging Therapeutics. Chapt. 9, Vol. 10, 2007
5 Høj L. Diagnostic value of ALCAT test in intolerance to food additives compared with double blind placebo controlled (DBPC) oral challenges. Alleg Clin Immun 1996: No 1, part 3.
6 Brostoff, J., et. al., 45th An. Congress, Am. Col. Of Allergy & Imm.