Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I've got Food Sensitivies... So Now What's the Plan?

So you've done your food sensitivity testing, and you know you have foods you react to.. So now what?  Your practitioner will likely have recommendations for you based on your complaints but my usual suggestions are to avoid your most reactive foods and rotate through the milder sensitivities.

Its important to remember that food sensitivities and environmental allergies are additive and will accumulate.  Symptoms will show us when you hit a threshold.  Moderately or strongly reactive foods will hit your threshold even when eaten in really small amounts, and so should be avoided.   Whereas mildly reactive foods will be fine as long as you eat them in small or infrequent amounts or in rotation.  The Rotation Diet is fairly simple but does require some organization.  And I often recommend some form of Rotation Diet when testing shows multiple mild reactions.  In this diet, we try to cycle through the various sensitivities.  For example if dairy, chicken, halibut and salmon are all in the list of mild reactions, then I suggest we try to cycle through them and limit each to no more than twice a week.   So a week's menu may include:  Mac n'cheese on Monday, Baked Chicken Tuesday, Breaded Halibut Wednesday, Lasagna on Thursday, BBQ'd Salmon Friday, and Chicken Strips on Saturday.   Obviously, the Rotation diet gets a little more complex if there are fruits, veggies or grains on the list too.  But the basics are still the same.  Try to limit your sensitive foods at each meal and give yourself a few days between each introduction of a specific food.  This helps to give the body time to clear out the reaction from each food so that you don't hit your threshold.

Sometimes we have a food sensitivity result where there are just so many reactions that its not realistic to avoid them all or even to rotate through.  In this case,  the digestive tract is so inflamed and reactive that it needs to be healed up first.  So I suggest just focusing on avoiding the most severe reactions and using supplements (like digestive enzymes, probiotics and others) to support, calm and heal the gut.

Finally, the important question is "Do I have to do this forever??".  No, you don't have to avoid your entire list forever.  Most people need to be quite diligent for 6 months or so and then can experiment with introducing some of their foods.  Some of the key sensitivities (like soy or dairy) may remain and you may need to avoid them always, or you may find that you can now have them in small amounts.  But you will likely find that with avoidance and rotation your reactions have settled down and your digestive tract has healed such that you no longer have a sensitivity to most of your list.  Please be aware that this is not true of food allergies - these should never be reintroduced without consulting a physician.

As always, please let me know if you have any comments, tips for a Rotation Diet or topic suggestions.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Naturopathic Medicine and Biomedical Therapies in Autism and ADHD

Naturopathic Medicine focuses on finding underlying causes or triggers for illness and optimizing overall health. It is a perfect fit for families looking for support for Autism Spectrum and Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder.   Some Naturopathic Physicians use a Biomedical approach for supporting the two conditions.  Biomedical therapies are defined as science-based therapies that look at optimizing the biology of the individual patient to improve the symptoms of Autism.  This is done in three ways:  assessing nutrient deficiencies, removing any interfering or triggering factors, and optimizing body systems (such as the digestive or immune system).  These three areas are targeted based on each patient’s specific circumstances, symptoms and lab results.

Perhaps we have a child diagnosed with Autism, whose biggest challenges are with language skills and unpredictable outbursts. We also find out he has difficult digestion and is very limited in his diet.  Since he’s eating limited foods, he’s probably quite nutritionally deficient.  Many nutrient deficiencies (B vitamins, amino acids and essential fatty acids) impact brain functioning, cognition and learning. 

We often try a special diet to eliminate reactive and inflammatory foods that are causing his pain and gassiness.  Many kids will express tummy pain or discomfort with restlessness and unpredictable stereotypic or aggressive behaviours.   

To help guide our treatment plan, we may choose to do specific testing to investigate various aspects of his digestion and nutritional status.  The testing, along with his symptoms and goals will dictate our treatment course.   This evolving plan often uses a combination of special diets, nutrient and supplement support, and sometimes pharmaceutical prescriptions. 

Naturopathic and Biomedical therapies are not cookie-cutter, but rather they are specific to the family and to the child.  This approach complements applied behavioural, speech and occupational therapies, as they help to reduce distractions and improve cognitive and learning functions.

More information about Biomedical Therapies is available at and to find a Naturopathic Physician in BC see