Cleansing & Food Allergies
Chester J. Zelasko, Ph.D. | October 16, 2001

In you are actively pursuing optimal health, sooner or later you'll consider doing a "cleanse." This is also called detoxification or detox for short. (This Newsletter is not about the particulars of a cleansing program. If you want to know more, check out the Health Data Bank paper "Detoxification: Internal Cleansing" or buy the book the 7-Day Detox Miracle by Peter Bennett and Stephen Barrie, both naturopaths.) One of the benefits of doing a cleanse is that it can help you identify food allergies--what foods, if any, affect your body negatively.

After the cleanse, which usually lasts a week, add categories of foods back into your diet one group at a time. This includes meats (non-vegetarians only, of course), wheat products such as breads and pasta, corn products including drinks that contain high-fructose corn syrup, and processed foods with additives such as preservatives, sweeteners, and food colorings. Although many people would guess that they're sensitive to the preservatives or sweeteners in processed foods, bigger problems may lie in foods we assume are good for our bodies--wheat and corn products.

Why would we be sensitive to these fundamentals of our food supply? The reason may not be the food in its natural form, but in the way it's processed before we eat it.

Consider wheat. After it's harvested, the bran is removed in the milling process. The flour is often bleached, removing all vitamins. Then the vitamins are added back in, and this becomes the basis for many foods we eat every day: bread, bagels, pasta, and tortillas. Thus we may not be sensitive to something in the wheat itself but to something used in the processing of the wheat.

How do you know if you have this type of food sensitivity or allergy? The symptoms may not be as severe as the anaphylactic shock people experience with peanut or seafood allergies. It may manifest itself as bloating, gas, constipation or diarrhea, feeling sluggish, or even respiratory symptoms such as a runny nose or clogged sinuses. It varies from person to person. The bottom line is that you may not have the energy and vitality you want to live an optimal life.

Suffice it to say that if you ate several meals a week from fast-food restaurants and you're going to go back to your old way of eating, you'll go right back to the way you were feeling: sluggish, digestive problems, and weighing too much. If you're going to take the time to do a cleanse, complete the process and identify those foods which affect your health-in both a positive and negative way.

How do you do this? The most important thing is to chart what you eat and pay attention to how you feel in the minutes and hours after eating the foods. Think about how many times you've walked past a dish of nuts or candy or had part of a donut without thinking. Keeping this type of record is not fun or easy, but it's essential to the process. You won't have to do it forever--just until you know how you respond to various foods.

Optimal health takes time and effort. Invest the time in identifying any food allergies you may have. You have nothing to lose and a life full of health and vitality to gain.
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