Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


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Dr Oz anti-allergy diet

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I’ve been feeling a little low on blogspiration lately so I decided to pay a visit to good old Dr. Oz’s website. He did not let me down. One of the posts on his home page was for an “anti-allergy” diet. This diet was devised by Dr. Mark Hyman. Starting to read the preamble about allergies I wondered about this doctor when he stated,

Foods with dairy can cause unhealthy bacteria to overgrow and produce toxins that cause systemic inflammation that swells the intestines and prevents normal digestion, causing weight gain, among other conditions such as irritable bowel. In fact, you can gain up to 30 pounds a year due to a dairy allergy.

Pretty sure there’s no legitimacy to these claims. Food allergies occur when your body believes a non-toxic substance to be a toxin and launches an attack on it. Symptoms can be immediate and severe, such as anaphylactic shock. They can also be more insidious, such as rashes. I have never heard of food allergies causing bacterial overgrowth and weight gain.

I did a little googling of Dr. Hyman and found this article bringing his credibility into question. Apparently he’s been known to peddle questionable cures upon which he garnered a profit.

His elimination diet is nothing new. It’s common to remove potential allergens to see if symptoms improve and then to gradually reintroduce, noting if symptoms recur. However, his recommendation to replace milk with almond milk, “which tastes good and has high quality protein and fat in it” is totally wack. Almond milk is pretty tasty but it’s very low in protein, one gram per cup. He also recommends seeing your doctor for a blood test to determine if you are allergic at the end of the three week diet. IgG Blood tests are not an accurate method of allergy testing. Other blood tests may be used if skin prick tests are precluded due to circumstances such as extreme eczema. Yes, go see your doctor, but ask for a referral to an allergist who will perform a skin-prick test.

This anti-allergy diet is also misleading in that it only addresses dairy allergies. There are a myriad of foods which may cause allergic reactions. An allergy to milk may not be the cause of any or all of you symptoms.


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Allergy testing

It puzzles me why allergists don’t advocate for themselves more. Maybe they have more business than they can handle? Us dietitians are always wrestling with the confusion between us and nutritionists. Yet, I hear about people getting “allergy” testing done by naturopaths all the time and I never hear allergists raising concerns about this.
According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology, “an allergist is a pediatrician or internist with at least two additional years of specialized training and is the best physician to diagnose and treat allergies and asthma”. These are highly trained doctors who only use legitimate testing methods. If you think that you may have a food allergy you should be asking your primary health care provider for a referral to see an allergist. Legitimate forms of allergy testing include: skin prick, food challenge, and in some cases blood tests.
The AAAAI also tells you what tests to avoid, as they are not believed to be useful or effective. These tests include: massive allergy screening tests done in supermarkets or drug stores, applied kinesiology (allergy testing through muscle relaxation), cytotoxicity testing, skin titration (Rinkel method), provocative and neutralization (subcutaneous) testing or sublingual provocation.
Childhood allergies can often be out-grown. According to the Food Allergy Guidelines most children will out-grow milk, egg, soy, and wheat allergies. Peanut and tree nut allergies are least likely to be out-grown. The optimal way to determine if an allergy has been out-grown is through a challenge test which should be done under medical supervision in case a reaction does occur.