Treating Instead of Masking
Allergic reactions use immune-system resources, which leaves us unable to protect ourselves from invaders like viruses and pathogenic bacteria. Allergies are an immune-system overreaction, so taking antihistamines all year long is not an answer. Antihistamines treat symptoms like a runny nose and itchy eyes, but they simply mask a problem that could have serious ramifications.
FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE has a better answer: finding what foods affect our susceptibility to environmental allergies; having enough antioxidants to keep histamine from being released; and having an enzyme that is able to clear histamine faster, etc.
Allergies may also affect ASTHMA, characterized by labored breathing. Tubes carrying air into lungs may be compromised by allergies, adrenal fatigue or too little glutathione. If asthma is caused by a lack of glutathione, having adequate antioxidants will not only aid in better breathing but will preserve a youthful vitality in cells.
We have a wide variety of tests available from technically superior labs. One targeted test for wheat looks at 24 indicators (far more than allergists or gastroenterologists do) to see if there is an IgA or IgG reaction to wheat. We also have an intestinal-permeability screen, to check for “Leaky Gut.” Hyper-permeability results in an allergic reaction from food particles that escape the digestive tract and get into the bloodstream.
Other tests measure an immune reaction to either 90 or 150 different foods, as well as a test measuring an autoimmune reaction to 24 different tissues. One autoimmune disorder is often followed by another, so this test is helpful.
“I was embarrassed about how my face was always broken out. I had consulted dermatologist after dermatologist, who sold me creams and continued to fill prescriptions for antibiotics. My face was no better, and my digestion was off. I went to Dr. Carrick…and she determined that I had food allergies. After eliminating the offending food, the difference is amazing! My skin is dramatically better; my digestion is back to normal; and I’m not taking unwanted medications anymore.”
*Results may vary
For environmental allergies, tests include immune-system reactions (LRA) to pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, mold, yeast and environmental chemicals. We can also measure the metabolites or presence of chemicals, heavy metals, mold and yeast in urine.
An allergic reaction is inflammatory. The body does use inflammation to heal an injured or irritated part, but inflammation should be temporary. Chronic inflammation injures us and may lead to disease. Dr. Carrick assesses each patient’s level of inflammation and suggests curtailing or avoiding inflammatory foods: refined sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated fats, excessive alcohol, processed meat (smoked meat and jerky), processed and refined carbohydrates and seed oils.
Anti-inflammatory foods are listed below, but one caveat is that some of these are high in oxalates, which can form calcium oxalate kidney stones. Drinking plenty of water through the day, though, helps to avoid kidney stones. A diet that is too salty or contains too much meat may produce kidney stones and too much inflammation.
Plant sources of calcium oxalate have the advantage of being anti-inflammatory. Kale, spinach, broccoli, sweet potatoes, Swiss chard, almonds and cashews are high in oxalates, but help prevent cardiovascular disease and cancer. Unless you have a family or personal history of calcium-oxalate kidney stones, eating a variety of the following is important:
- KALE: may help prevent cancer and avoid macular degeneration and cataracts; a good source of vitamins C,A, & K
- SPINACH: provides iron, folate and vitamin K
- BROCCOLI: high in glucosinolates—cancer-fighting antioxidants; good source of potassium, calcium, vitamin A &C
- SWEET POTATOES: high in vitamin A, beta-carotene, fiber, potassium, vitamins C, B-complex & K
- SWISS CHARD: good source of minerals and vitamins K & A
- CARROTS: rich in beta-carotene—a good antioxidant which may prevent cell damage; good for eye health
- AVOCADOS: have monounsaturated fats, fiber, potassium, antioxidants and vitamins C, E & B-complex
- WALNUTS: contain healthy fats & fatty acids, like omega-3; are high in calories but aid in feeling full longer; a good source of protein, minerals
- ALMONDS: contain healthy monounsaturated fats, manganese, magnesium and vitamin A; excellent source of plant protein, helps prevent cardiovascular disease; high in calories but produce fullness
- SALMON: contains the most omega-3 fatty acids of any fish; good for the heart and for reducing dry eyes; contains astaxanthin, an antioxidant
- DRY BEANS: (kidney, black, any and pinto): full of fiber; may reduce high-blood pressure & heart disease; high in protein; good source of B complex vitamins & minerals
- BLUEBERRIES: helps to prevent cardiovascular disease & cancer and to repair cellular damage caused by free radicals
- STRAWBERRIES: high in fiber, vitamin C & antioxidants
- ORANGES: rich in fiber, folate, potassium & vitamin C