Tag Archives: Food

Hypoallergenic Food

Listen, you’ve heard the term hypoallergenic as it relates to your jewelry, your skin care products, and your laundry detergent, but have you ever thought about the food you eat? Have you ever thought about if what you eat is hypoallergenic? No, no. NOT sterile. Hypoallergenic doesn’t mean sterile!

You don’t blink an eye when a friend says, “Oh, I can’t wear cheap earrings. My ears get sore.” You get that! We can all relate to people needing hypoallergenic jewelry or skin products. But have you ever thought about the food you eat and whether or not it’s hypoallergenic to your system?

Yes, indeed! Just like these external substances can lead to immune reactions, so can the food you eat! However, the food you eat leads to a chain reaction of internal immune system activation that doesn’t just sit right there at the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

You have immune cells lining the intestines which sample the foods you eat and decide whether or not they like it. Whether you like the food doesn’t matter. Whether the food you eat is healthy or not doesn’t matter. If the immune cells sample it and don’t like it, they are going to send out signals (histamines, prostaglandins, interleukins, interferons, and other cytokine signals) in the blood stream which can affect any organ system in your body: you stomach, your brain, your skin, your reproductive system, your lungs, your connective tissue (joints, as an example), your thyroid.

My Oligoantigenic (What!?!?) Diet

When I first started down this fascinating nutrition avenue a little over four years ago (from a classic diet of cereal for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, and pizza or pasta for supper), one of the first things I learned about and tried was an “oligoantigenic diet.” I had read that some people with the same gastrointestinal malady that I suffered from had been treated in a medical research study with an oligoantigenic diet!

What in tarnation is an oligoantigenic diet? I’d never heard of that! Basically, it is a strict, hypoallergenic diet that allows only foods which are accepted to be very mild on the body’s immune system. Once I figured out that I could think of an oligoantigenic diet as a type of “hypoallergenic” diet, I got it! Choose foods which cause the least known reactions! For those of you familiar with a strict elimination diet, you know what I’m talking about here too.

So I started on a (miserable) diet consisting of three foods which don’t seem to rile up people’s immune systems too much: lamb (I didn’t even like lamb), plain sweet potato (I had only ever eaten those as fries), and white rice (which I had never eaten plain). Did I mention it tasted miserable? But persistence led me on a food journey of a lifetime (for a lifetime).  And as I’ve heard it said, “I didn’t know I was feeling so bad till I started feeling so good!”

An oligoantigenic diet (or hypoallergenic diet) is NOT meant to be a long-term diet. A person starts with a small group of 3-5 foods and builds from there, learning to observe signs and symptoms that tell him or her that a particular food category raises immune reactions (by observing for headaches, GI changes, spikes in fatigue, skin rashes, and other clues).

The Pesky Foods

Never once going through pharmacy school, medical school, residency, and hundreds of hours of continuing education did I ever hear about a hypoallergenic, oligoantigenic diet or even an anti-inflammatory diet. (I was served plenty of donuts, bagels with cream cheese, and pizza, though.) It took me going after my own health to learn about nutrition.

Since my oligoantigenic diet, I’ve done a lot more reading. What I’ve found is that the same foods that doctors KNOW are immune provoking because they cause true, life- threatening food allergies, are the same foods that can be removed to lighten the load of a body stressed by health problems. By removing known immune-provoking, inflammmatory-producing foods, the body gets a rest from the prostaglandins, histamine, interleukins, interferons, and other cytokines that it makes in response to something it thinks is harmful.

Although any food can cause allergic and sensitivity issues, there are eight foods that are medically known to cause the majority of the reactions. Why? These foods have what I call “pesky proteins.” They have proteins in them that have very, very strong bonds, making them difficult for our digestive tracts to break down. The better food is broken down into its smallest parts in our intestinal tracts, the less inflammatory it is to us.

The pesky eight foods are:

Tree nuts
Milk products

These are the common drop-dead if you eat them allergenic foods. But I’m not talking about drop-dead allergies here. I’m talking about you and me and Mr. Smith walking around with headaches, bloating, fussy guts, allergies, asthma, psoriasis, eczema, depression, fatigue, puffy eyelids, puffy faces, coronary artery disease, increasing forgetfulness, dry and itchy eyes, chronic sinus problems, joint pain–do I HAVE to keep going? I sure can. Sometimes by simply eliminating the above food categories (with NO cheating), a person can gauge how much food is affecting their health.

Enter Anti-Inflammatory Diets

Since trying my three ingredient, hypoallergenic diet, I’ve discovered a whole world of anti-inflammatory type diets, which aren’t as strict as an oligoantigenic (hypoallergenic) diet. I find it fascinating that these diets often eliminate the Pesky Eight foods, capitalizing on what we know about the immune system and health! However, anti-inflammatory type diets incorporate and expand further on the idea of the immune system and inflammation in the role of health problems.

Each named anti-inflammatory diet (sometimes called autoimmune diets) has its own unique quirks. In general, though, these diets do three things.

  1. Eliminate most of the Pesky Eight foods (although seafood is usually encouraged if a person knows they are not truly allergic) and a few other problematic foods which don’t make the top eight. (Things like corn, any gluten grains, beef, chocolate, citrus, tomato, and beans)
  2. Eliminate processed foods, refined foods, including sugars.
  3. Include abundant vegetables and fruits.

Anti-inflammatory diets (autoimmune diets) seek to eliminate the most common food problem causers and also try to bring in food problem solvers.


Diets in general can be overwhelming, and when they talk about restricting food groups, diets can be downright terror-provoking. As I’ve journeyed away from an oligoantigenic elimination diet, my own diet landed very similarly to many of these anti-inflammatory type diets. It wasn’t by choice and planning. That’s just how it fell. I can’t eat many of the Pesky Eight foods and feel good doing so. My body likes hypoallergenic food best.

I hear a lot of people say that no good diet restricts food groups. I really, really understand what they’re saying. However, LOOK AT THE PESKY EIGHT! They are good, healthy foods!!!!! But if the GI tract immune system triggers a cascade that sets the rest of the body on edge, you’re not going to feel good.

So please, when someone says they can’t eat dairy or wheat, give them a break. When they say they can’t eat eggs or beef, give them a nod. It’s just as frustrating for them as it is you. And if you have any nagging health problems, talk with your doctor about a dietary referral to see if an oligoantigenic food trial helps you gain control of any of your issues.

Don’t use anything on my site as medical guidance or instruction. I hope it sparks curiosity to help you want to learn more. And, oh yes, I like to think that for most people, autoimmune type diets can be expanded with a whole health approach.

Be well. Be curious.


Butyrate Series, Part 3


Bacteria (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It all sounds like voodoo until you can find the sense (science) to understand it.

Recap Parts 1 and 2:

Part 1: Colons and colon bacteria make or break your health.  (Poop tubes and cooties.  Yes I know.  Voodoo.  True-doo.)  Although it is little known and little stressed, the intestines and the bacteria naturally found in colons are the foundations to a healthy human body, from the brain to the liver to the skin to food intolerances to fighting infections.  And you don’t have to have stomach pain, constipation, or diarrhea to have a broken gut.

Part 2:  Please pardon oversimplifications.

  • The colon is a world of bacteria; there are good bugs and bad bugs living there. Bad bugs take up space, overgrow, crowd out the good bacteria, eat up all the food, and make chemicals that don’t agree with the GI tract.  From a Discovery post on using how antibiotics harm the gut flora:  “…The facts and figures relating to the numbers and functions of the commensal bacteria, and those in the gut in particular, remain awe-inspiring.”  (1)  This stuff is simply amazing, folks.  Revolutionary.  And I didn’t learn a drop about it in medical school or residency.  What failures our academic institutions are in so many ways.
  • What we eat affects the bacterial world of the gut.  Processed foods lower levels of good bacteria. (2)
  • Bacteria in our colons make beneficial short chain fatty acids, including butyrate, from plant-based food sources.   Short chain fatty acids help in inflammation, fighting cancer, and protecting the GI tract. (3, 4)  They also promote the growth of good bacteria! (5)  And the demise of bad bacteria.  (6)

“Eat your fruits and vegetables, child.”  What colon cancer and ulcerative colitis may tell us about diets low in vegetables and fruits:

Colon cancer and inflammatory bowel disease tend to really hit the last part of the colon the hardest, particularly in developed countries.  So what?  Why would this be?  What can this suggest to us?  Colon cancer seems so far away, so removed from me (although with my chronic constipation issue, in reality it is looming over my shoulder:  Chronic Constipation Linked to Increased Risk of Colorectal Cancer— in case any readers have the audacity to question my open discussion of constipation).

Why should I ask you to think about colon cancer and inflammatory bowel disease?  Well, as we mentioned in the first two posts, body health depends on intestinal health, which in turn relies on bacterial health.  Colon cancer and inflammatory bowel disease are two significant problems arising in the colon.  Perhaps if we know what leads to these intrinsic intestinal problems, we have clues as to what leads to other problems in the human body.  So let’s look at what happens when a person doesn’t eat enough vegetables and fruits, based on bacteria and SCFAs and colons:

1.  Not enough plant matter is making it to the end of the colon for the bacteria to make the protective short chain fatty acids we discussed in our last post.  This can happen in somebody who eats mostly processed foods that are easily broken down and absorbed by the small intestine.  Or it can happen if someone is on a low carbohydrate diet.  (However, “low carbohydrate” is not the same as “no carbohydrate” because some low carbers work very hard to incorporate plants into their diet, such as onions, garlic, and diverse vegetables low in starch–although later in the series, low carbers may be intrigued by resistant starch.)  By increasing plant matter in the diet, more will reach the bacteria in the far ends of the colon to bathe the colon in sustaining and restoring SCFAs.

2.  Bacteria resort to less effective sources for fermentation since there’s not enough plant matter around (AND at a COST to us).  They start fermenting protein, mucous, and sloughed off dead cells.  Thankfully, SCFAs are still made for us, although not in as high of a quantity as from plants–but in exchange, toxins are made.  (Medical doctors just don’t use the word “toxin” loosely; we like to know specifics.  Specifically, ammonia, phenols, indoles, and nitrogen and sulfur-containing compounds are made from these inferior SCFA food sources, and they are detrimental to the colon and the body.) (6, 7)

Large intestine

***For those on or considering a low-carb diet, here are two studies of interest.  I know that some people feel and function better on a very low carb diet. But I think we need to be aware of potential pitfalls and personally explore if there’s a way to avoid these pitfalls without sacrificing quality of life and body function:

(Key point:  Colon cancer and ulcerative colitis hit the descending colon the hardest, possibly because the bacteria down here at this point don’t have enough carbohydrate to make abundant SCFAs AND they make compounds that are harmful to the gut when they ferment proteins. Since health begins in the colon, we can explore these two diseases as a possible illustration of why we need to eat more vegetables and fruits.)

Leaving microbiology and pathology and focusing on butyrate now:

All SCFAs are important, but butyrate seems particularly so.  Even if you don’t have bowel issues, if you just look over the effects of butyrate in the body, you will see it can affect many, many places!  Here is my original butyrate post:  Butyrate is important for YOU.  (By the way, the word butyrate is interchangeable with butyric acid and butanoic acid, if you ever see those anywhere.)  To briefly recap, butryate:

  • Reduces inflammation: both locally in the GI tract and likely in the rest of the body as, as well
  • Helps cancer cells get shut off and/or die
  • Helps stabilize blood sugars
  • Helps fight the hunger urge
  • Helps neurons damaged in the brain after strokes
  • Modulates oxidative stress in the colon (anti-oxidant actions)
  • Helps speed up GI transit
  • Helps regulate GI permeability

So you think this all sounds good.  Stop colon cancer and other cancers.  Help your blood sugars.  Suppress hunger.  Repair nerves.  Fine.  More specifics please.  How can a person get butyrate?

In my mind, I see four ways to increase butyrate.

  • Eat butyrate containing foods
  • Eat butyrate producing foods
  • Take butyrate supplements
  • Take probiotics which contain bacteria known to make butyrate

Closing:  The next post will hone in on butyrate containing foods and maybe get started on butyrate producing foods.


Part 4

1.  The Impact of Antibiotics on the Gut Microbiota as Revealed by High Throughput DNA Sequencing.  Cotter, Paul et al.  Discovery Medicine.  March, 2012.  13(70):  193-199.

2.  Gut Reaction: Environmental Effects on the Human Microbiota.  Phillips, Melissa.  Environmental Health Perspectives.  May, 2009. 117(5): A198–A205.   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2685866/

3. The Effects of Short-Chain Fatty Acids on Human Colon Cancer Cell Phenotype Are Associated with Histone Hyperacetylation. Hinnebusch, Shufen, et al.  J. Nutr. May 1, 2002 132(5): 1012-1017. http://jn.nutrition.org/content/132/5/1012.long

4. Anti-inflammatory properties of the short-chain fatty acids acetate and propionate: A study with relevance to inflammatory bowel disease.  Sofia Tedelind, Fredrik Westberg, Martin Kjerrulf, Alexander Vidal .  World J Gastroenterol  2007 May 28;13(20): 2826-2832.  http://www.wjgnet.com/1007-9327/13/2826.asp

5.  Short chain fatty acids and colonic health.  Hijova E and Chmelarova A.  Bratislava Medical Journal.  2007.  108 (8): 354-358. http://www.bmj.sk/2007/10808-06.pdf

6. Colorectal Carcinogenesis:  A Cellular Response to Sustained Risk Environment.  Fung, Cheng Ooi, Topping, et al.  SInt J Mol  Sci. 2013 July; 14(7): 13525–13541.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3742201/

7.  Starches, Resistant Starches, the Gut Microflora and Human Health.  Bird, Brown, and Topping.  Current Issues Int Micro.  2000; 1:25-37. http://www.horizonpress.com/backlist/ciim/v/v1/03.pdf

8.  Review article:  the role of butyrate on colonic function.  Hamer, Jonkers, Venema, Vanhoutvin, Troost, and Brummer.  Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics.  2008.  27, 104-119.  http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2036.2007.03562.x/abstract;jsessionid=92F8CCF91EDCE88AD7989649725CAEB3.f04t02

What Kids Who Are Being Forced To “Eat Healthy” Want

As agreed upon and written by three little scheisters who have given up artificial colors, artificial flavors, most added preservatives, most grains, sugar, and dairy because they felt sorry for vegetables and fruits feeling so left out.

FrankenBerry Cereal

Yes. If they had wanted this and would have eaten it two years ago, it would have been in the cupboard. If we can change, so can you!

Dear Mom,

Here’s what we want.  If you’re going to make us eat and drink “healthy,” could you…

♥  Please remember that straws make everything better?

♥  Please make hot cocoa on cold and snowy days?  (We use coconut milk.)

♥  Make fun and yummy smoothies?

♥  Use fun and colorful cups?

♥  Buy yummy fruits like bananas, apples, and grapefruit?

♥  Occasionally let us have cookies, cake, cupcakes, ice cream, Lara bars, and juice?  (Almonds and almond flour to the rescue.)

♥  Let us make our own soup or let us add some stuff to it until we like it?

♥  Make a face with vegetables on our plates?

Your Girls

There you have it.  That’s what three kids, ages 9, 8, and 4 said they wanted to help them eat “healthy.”  (The word “healthy” is a four-letter word in my house, a waste of breath and proper vocabulary.  Teeth on edge feeling:  Ditch the Word “Healthy.”)

“Mom, when I’m BIG, I’M going to eat WHATEVER I want.” —-Sure.  It’ll go great with your pink hair, all black clothes, and new boyfriend.  Go for it.  At this time, my job will already have been reduced to “advisor-when-asked” anyhow.  The many nights you climbed into my bed will be long forgotten until you decide to complete the circle with scheisters of your own.


G is also for "grainless granola bars".

Smoothie pops

A is for apples with nutbutter piped on top