BEWARE OF FOOD ALLERGIES
by Robert B. Gordon Sc.D.
Unlike air-borne allergies ,which are quite recognizable and treatable by immunizing injections or anti-histamine drugs, there are just two ways to permanently treat food allergies: (1) eliminate the
offending food from the diet or (2) eat the offending food or foods only after a lapse of at least 4 days to completely eliminate them from the body.
Food allergies can start at birth or at any later age. They may cause a visible external rash or internal effects that are difficult to analyze. In extreme cases, they can cause a life threatening anaphylactic shock requiring emergency expert treatment.
As you will learn from the writer's problems discussed below, food allergies are highly variable in their effects and in most cases require very individualized treatment that sometimes amounts to a
special research program for each patient.
There is a severe shortage of doctors with the expertise and patience to treat a difficult case. So, the best course of action is to do everything in your power to avoid food allergy problems.
Doctors specializing in food allergies report that many people are allergic to their favorite foods. By eating the offending food every day, for example, easily recognizable symptoms are covered up
while simultaneously causing other hidden problems. The standard way to diagnose this condition is to refrain from eating the suspect food for 10 days. This fast may cause some hidden health
symptoms to improve. Then, eating the food after the fast may cause a return of the old symptoms or cause a more noticeable symptom such as an external rash, throat swelling etc.
Emergency Preparation ALLERGY ALERT
Any person or family with a known history of, or current problem from, food allergies should take special precautions in selecting foods for storage.
They presumably recognize the need to eliminate suspect foods from their buy list. But every-one else should plan now to diversify their food supplies. Any common food such as wheat, rice, or beans etc. could be the cause of a serious food allergy if eaten on a regular daily basis. It' s not possible to pick out the suspect foods or the potential allergy victims in advance. It is very important to take all possible steps to prevent food allergies during emergencies because it could occur at a time when help from an allergy specialist may not be available. A plan to rotate foods every 4 days could possibly save much trouble.
ONE FAMILY'S FOOD ALLERGIES
To emphasize the need for food allergies to be avoided at any time and especially during emergency disruptions, we offer this true story that perhaps should be entitled "How to Survive Bad Genes".
From childhood, I have had serious pollen allergies that were fairly well relieved by many thousands of immunizing injections. In mid life, I developed contact allergies to latex and iodine which
greatly hindered certain required medical procedures. But my life long food allergies were limited to two fruits, peaches and cantaloupe. They so inflamed my mouth on contact that I never ate
them. My food elimination program started very early.
Unfortunately, the genes passed to our two sons produced food allergies so bad that we nearly lost them both from starvation early in life.
They could not take animal milk in any form so we raised one on soy milk and the other on a new synthetic protein. Each baby food was tested in minute quantities and slowly increased. I remember one incident in which a tiny amount of a new food produced massive hives over the entire body. As adults, both sons have had to avoid or rotate certain foods throughout their lives to date.
Our older son, trained and in practice as a Head and Neck surgeon, turned his own food allergy experience into a second specialty and now devotes one third of his time teaching other doctors here and
abroad about the best current practices for food allergies. His expertise enabled him to play a key role in the food allergy crisis described below.
My personal allergy problems were unchanged through my fifth and sixth decades but I almost didn't make it through the seventh.
In 1992, I had an upset stomach problem lasting several months during which I subsisted on 2 foods, wheat toast and oatmeal. My tummy got better but, when my doctor son learned about this diet, he said flatly that I would become allergic to wheat and oats. Stay with me for this is where the story becomes really interesting. I immediately cut oats from my diet but could not, in the absence of symptoms, completely stop wheat. So, with my son's grudging consent, I started to eat wheat only every five days. Everything went very well FOR A WHILE. On my wheat day I would go out and enjoy a hamburger with a BUN on it. What fun it was.
But after 6 months of this rotation, the roof caved in on me (and my dear wife).
One fateful night, I ate a small piece of cake that I had been saving in the refrigerator. From that moment, I was allergic to everything that passed my lips except pure water! On advice of my son, i undertook a crash program to eat just one food at each meal and record the observable effects on a scale from 1 to 5 where 5 meant a tracheotomy to open my throat. I also tested many foods I had never eaten. One such was a fig that caused a big reaction in my mouth before I had a chance to bite into it. My big problem initially was that I was losing weight rapidly and literally dying from starvation.
With the testing complete, I ate only foods with the least reactions and rotated all foods every 4 days. It was necessary for me to eat 6 huge meals a day which only partially stopped my hunger
pangs. I lost a third of my body weight and would almost certainly have died except for the advice of my son and other experts teaching in his seminar classes.
They jointly recommended massive doses of nutritional substances and vitamins which after 18 months brought my starvation to an end. In a single 3 week period, I went from six to five to four and finally to three meals a day and my hunger left. It was only then that we fully understood my allergies had destroyed my digestive chemistry. I had lost the ability to assimilate food although biopsies of the intestine were normal. In the first desperate stages of my illness, I was convinced that no one else in the world could have such a severe problem. I later met and talked on the phone to a former airline pilot who did indeed have the identical problem . It is possible to be allergic to everything!
So, with expert help, I have managed to live past my seventh decade . I am still eating only a small group of foods , rotating them every 4 days and continuing all of the pills that cured my
allergy-caused digestive problem. Following this strict regimen, I have been able to regain just half of my weight losses.
I sincerely hope that my grim experience will serve as a warning to others and raise their level of concern on food allergies.
1. Food allergies can be very serious and should be prevented wherever possible.
2. A pound of food allergy prevention is better than a ton of cures.
3. Try the 10 day fast if you suspect a food is causing a problem in your body.
4. Avoid, wherever possible ,eating the same food every day over a long time period.
5. Buy a sufficient variety of foods for emergencies so that you can eat diversified meals.
6. Remember that treating any serious illness during periods of disruption will be much more difficult than under normal conditions.
Sun City West AZ, July 10, 1999 Robert B. Gordon Sc.D.