Probiotics is used successfully by many for many gastrointestinal problems as constipation, bloating, inflammation, Candida and much more. But what about probiotics for food allergies? Can probiotics help solve food sensitivity problems?
A neurologist, Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride has developed a treatment strategy (GAPS) for autism, autoimmune disorders, food allergies and intolerances. A cornerstone is the use of probiotics to repair the gut lining and restore balance to the immune system. Years ago my wife and I tried this approach to learn more about it, we had very good results.
- A main reason for food allergies/intolerances is a “leaky gut.” If the gut lining is damaged by an abnormal microflora, food is not properly digested but small amounts can be absorbed through a damaged gut wall. Substances entering the body this way cause problems with the immune system and can lead to allergic reactions.
- Trying to identify which foods cause a reaction is hard. The damaged gut wall can absorb most foods partially digested causing either an immediate or a delayed allergic reaction. As long as the gut wall remains damaged, it will be futile to change the diet; most people get nowhere. This can be very frustrating.
- Focusing on healing the gut wall with high-quality probiotics and a correct diet. Once the gut wall is healed, foods will be digested properly before being absorbed. This can solve many food allergies and intolerances.
Allergies born in the gut
According to the GAPS approach, a root cause of allergies and intolerances are found in the (wrong) way the immune system deals with pollen, foods or other substances. The immune system is to a large extent controlled by the gut flora—it’s a very delicate balance. As long as the gut is working optimally there will not be many allergic symptoms. But gut imbalances often disturb parts of the immune system leading to allergies and intolerances.
Some allergies and intolerances cause symptoms hours, days or sometimes weeks after consuming food. This makes it hard to determine which food caused the reaction. Not so with acute anaphylactic allergies that belong to a different group of allergies not mediated by the same immunoglobulin. These reactions can be fast and very serious.
- Gut contains root cause of allergies and intolerances
Since the gut is involved in the development of allergies, consuming high-quality probiotic bacteria strains can help a lot.
Food allergy symptoms—why so confusing?
Many symptoms and reactions from foods often overlap and can be very confusing. For example, the body can react to some vegetable consumed on Monday, but on Tuesday it was the pork, on Friday the juice. All these foods can cause different and delayed reactions making it very hard to determine what caused the adverse reaction. To make matters worse, food allergies and intolerances can cause an array of symptoms. For example:
- Stomach pain
- Swollen joints
- Panic attacks
Causes of symptoms
The gut lining is maintained by the gut flora—beneficial bacteria create the right environment for a strong, healthy gut.
But an abnormal gut flora can cause the gut lining to deteriorate—the lining turns porous and leaky resulting in foods not being digested properly. Partly digested foods that enter the bloodstream might be veiwed as a threqat by the immune system. This can cause the symptoms mentioned above.
Simple food sensitivity test
- Take a drop of the food in question (if the food is solid, mash and mix with a bit of water) and place it on the inside of the wrist at bedtime. Let the drop dry on the skin, then go to sleep.
- In the morning check the spot. An angry, red reaction means it’s best to avoid that food for a few weeks, then try again. If there is no reaction, then it’s fine to eat.
This simple (and free) test works surprisingly well to determine what foods are causing reactions. It can be done as often as needed.
Probiotics for food allergies
When my wife developed food allergy years ago, it was very difficult to determine the specific foods causing the reaction. And even when we did discover a few, it was hard to be sure if those were all, or if there were more. We realized we needed to attend to the root cause not only the symptoms.
Please repeat, what exactly is the root cause of allergy?
According to the GAPS approqach, a damaged gut lining.
Probiotics for food allergies is simple but works well to repair the gut lining. In comparison, conventional allergy testing and medication can be time-consuming and expensive.
- Healing and sealing the gut lining can solve root cause
Healing the gut means that foods that earlier caused an allergic reaction can now be freely consumed. Probiotics are essential for optimal digestion of food and absorption of nutrients. They also help the body produce vitamins, absorb minerals and aid in the elimination of toxins. Many studies on probiotics confirm its efficiency in treating food allergies.
The gut-friendly diet
The approach is simple. Meat stocks are great for healing the digestive tract. The goal is to remove constipation, bloating, diarrhea and gut pain. This is doen by consuming meat stock until other foods cam be reintroduced.
- Begin the day with a cup of still mineral or filtered water (warm or room temperature, not cold)
- Consume a small amount of meat stock.
- Take a probiotics supplement. In case of a sensitive gut, empty a capsule into a glass or water and slowly drink it during the day
- During the day, eat only fish & meat stock and vegetable soups.
Some people love meat and chicken stock; it’s like gut-balm. However, other finds it to heavy because of all the fat. In such case, consuming the lighter chicken broths is recommended.
1. Homemade meat or fish stocks
Meat and fish stocks provide building blocks for the rapidly growing cells of the gut lining and have a soothing effect on gut inflammations. Stocks aid digestion and are known for centuries as a healing remedy for an upset stomach.
Avoid most commercially available soup stock granules or bullion cubes; they are highly processed and are packed with harmful ingredients.
Chicken stock is very gentle on the stomach and is good to start with .
How to make a good meat stock? (Choose any of the following ingredients.)
- a piece of meat on the bone
- a whole chicken
- giblets from chicken, goose or duck
- whole pigeons, pheasants or other inexpensive meats
Bones and joints provide most of the healing substances, not so much the muscle meats. Ask the butcher to cut in half the large tubular bones, to get to the bone marrow after cooking.
- Put the bones, joints and meats into a large pan and fill it with water
- Add natural unprocessed salt (Himalayan or sea salt)
- Add a teaspoon of whole black peppers, roughly crushed
- Bring to boil, remove the foam forming on the surface
- Cover with lid and simmer on low heat for 2.5-3 hours
Make fish stock the same way using whole fish or fish fins, bones, and heads.
- After cooking, remove bones and meats out and sieve the stock.
- Strip off all the soft tissues from the bones which can be used later. The soft tissues of the bones are very nutririous.
- Extract the bone marrow while they are still warm.
The gelatinous soft tissues around the bones and the bone marrow provide some of the best healing remedies for the gut lining and the immune system. Remove all of the soft tissues from fish bones and heads and reserve for adding to soups later.
The meat or fish stock will keep in the fridge for a few days. But it can also be frozen. Consume warm meat stock all day with meals and between meals. Avoid microwaving the stock, use a conventional stove. Try consuming the fat in the stock as it’s great for the healing process.
2. Introduce probiotics or fermented foods
Don’t underestimate the benefits of homemade fermented food. To consume a wide variety of bacteria strains, try to eat different kinds of fermented foods like homemade yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, natto, or kimchi.
Start out slow!
- Start with 1-2 teaspoons per day of fermented food
- Slowly increase the dose
- Same principle with a probiotic supplement
- Cleansing the gut can take days, weeks or months; be patient
- Inform your health practitioner about this approach
It’s beneficial to add fermented food to every cup of meat stock or soup. Sauerkraut or some other fermeted vegetable is fine.
3. Gut-healing soups
Bring some of the meat stock to a boil, add chopped or sliced vegetables like onions, carrots, broccoli, leeks, cauliflower, courgettes, marrow, squash, pumpkin, etc. and simmer for 30 minutes.
Choose any combination of available vegetables, avoiding only fibrous ones, such as varieties of cabbage and celery. All very fibrous parts of vegetables need to be removed, such as skin and seeds on pumpkins, squash marrows, the stalk of broccoli and cauliflower, and similar.
- Cook the vegetables well; they should be really soft
- When vegetables are well cooked, add 1-2 tablespoons of chopped garlic, bring to boil and turn heat off
- Eat this soup with the bone marrow, meats, and other soft tissues from the bones
- Try blending the soup to make it smoother
- Add some probiotic food into every bowl of soup
4. Ginger tea
Ginger tea with a little honey between meals is excellent for the gut.
- Grate a teaspoonfull fresh ginger root into a teapot, pour boiling water over it
- Cover and leave for 3-5 minutes
- Pour through a small sieve, add honey (best is raw honey, or Manuka honey)
Slowly add more foods
After completing the introductory diet above, the goal now is to continue the healing process and slowly introduce other foods as shown below.
Add the following:
- Raw organic egg yolks: start with one per day and gradually increase the amount until you eat an egg yolk with every bowl of soup. Then try soft-boiled eggs. If you suspect egg allergy, do the sensitivity test. Otherwise, eat as many egg yolks you want per day; they are digested quickly and very nutritious.
- Meat and vegetable stews, casseroles: add salt and fresh herbs but NO hot spices. Fat contents should be high. In fact, more animal fat promotes healing. Add probiotics with every meal.
- Eat yogurt, kefir, juice from sauerkraut/fermented vegetables.
- Try adding fermented fish and homemade ghee.
Add more foods
- Mashed ripe avocado
- Scrambled eggs with plenty of ghee, goose or duck fat.
- Cooked onion: 3 tablespoons of ghee, add sliced large white onion, cover and cook for 20-30 minutes on low heat.
At last, add pancakes!
- Organic nut butter (almond, walnut, peanut or similar)
- Organic eggs
- Squash or zucchini (peel, de-seed, and mix in food processor)
Mix all inredients. Fry small, thin pancakes using ghee or duck fat.
Next step, add this…
- Roasted or cooked meats (not barbecued or fried)
- Cold pressed olive oil, 1-2 tablespoons per meal
- Freshly pressed vegetable juice. Start with a little carrot juice. Drink it slowly or mix with homemade yogurt. Rry juicing celery, lettuce, and fresh mint leaves. Drink on an empty stomach mornings, afternoons.
Make you own bread with these ingredients:
- Nut flour
- Fresh peeled, sliced squash or zucchini
- Natural fat like ghee and some salt to taste
- Apple puree. Peel and cook apples in water until soft, add ghee to it and mash.
- Raw vegetables like lettuce and peeled cucumber Gradually add carrots, tomatoes, onion, cabbage, etc.
- Apple, pineapple, and mango. Avoid citrus fruits.
Almost done, now add
- More fruit and honey
- Gradually introduce baked cakes and other sweets allowed on the diet. Use dried fruit as a sweetener in baking.
Stocks and probiotics really work
Using probiotics for food allergies and intolerances does work. However, it might not only by itself remove all symptoms quickly. The GAPS diet includs more. Staying focused and being persistent speeds up the process. How long it will take to completely heal the gut depends on each individual’s circumstances. Hopefully, sooneer than later!