An elimination diet removes all foods that are suspected of causing the allergic reaction. These foods are cut out simultaneously for at least two weeks and the patient is only allowed to eat foods that are generally thought to be safe and non-allergic in nature, such as rice, lamb and bottled water.
Once the allergic symptoms have cleared up, suspect foods are gradually reintroduced to the person’s diet – usually one food every two days – until the symptoms of allergy or intolerance reappear and the specific cause of the reaction can be identified.
Problems can occur with this method when more than one food type is the cause of the reaction. Because the elimination diet is very restricting, it should never be under-taken without professional guidance.
Sublingual drop testing
The first part of the test consists of fasting on fluids for five days. Then one drop of a solution containing the suspect food is placed under the tongue. Any sensitivity symptoms will develop within minutes, allowing allergens to be identified. However, this method can only be used for people who are physically and psychologically strong enough to undergo a five-day fast.
A small electrode is used to apply a low-voltage electrical current at an acupuncture point, usually on the tip of the toe. An electrical reading is taken over this point. A glass bottle containing a suspect food or chemical is then incorporated in the circuit. If the reading changes, the patient is said to be sensitive to the substance in the bottle.
Auricular cardiac reflex (ACR)
The ACR test is based on the theory that a change in-rate on exposure to a food is a sign that the individual is sensitive to it. Suspect substances are placed next to the ear and a practitioner notes any sudden increase in the pulse-rate.
This alternative system of diagnosis involves muscle tests that are used to monitor the effect of food on the body. The practitioner places a sample of the suspect food under the client’s tongue and then applies gentle downward pressure on the wrist. If the client can match the pressure and the arm muscle remains firm, it is believed that he is not allergic to the suspect food. But if the client’s arm feels weak or moves, this is said to be evidence of a food allergy or sensitivity.
TREATING FOOD SENSITIVITIES
The simple treatment for a food sensitivity is to avoid the food that causes the adverse reaction. Many people, however, are sensitive to several foods and avoidance can lead to nutritional problems. For this reason, any treatment should always be undertaken with the supervision of a nutritionist or naturopath.
Rotation diets have been shown to be helpful in the treatment of food allergies. Rotation diets are based on the principle that the body may tolerate individual foods from a particular food group if they are eaten only once every four days, whereas it would not tolerate them if they were eaten every day. By rotating foods within each food group (rice, quinoa and other foods from the grains group, for example), it is thought that existing allergies can be controlled and the emergence of new allergies can be prevented. This method of treatment is not suitable for foods that provoke severe or prolonged reactions.
Complementary therapies for allergies, which include acupuncture, herbalism and homeopathy, are mainly designed to combat sensitivities by boosting the functioning of the immune system and digestive system.