Hey, so I saw on Facebook that you can answer questions about health concerns? I am extremely allergic to cats and dogs (and I think horses too!). I try to take medicine to cope, but mostly just avoid animals altogether, but I really like them and I wanted to know if a gluten-free diet would help. My friend claims that he got rid of his allergies by going gluten-free, but I am more of a science guy—is there evidence to show this to be true? For how long would I have to be gluten-free to find out if it is helping with my allergies or not? I would appreciate any suggestions you have, because I am getting really tired of constant medication! Thank you for your time,
Liz Schau’s Answer:
When you are eating foods that your body is either allergic or sensitive to, you can be overstimulating your immune system. An overactive immune system means it is on the attack, reacting to anything and everything, including dander from pets or other seasonal/environmental allergies. To help your immune system not be so overstimulated, discover which foods you are sensitive to (for most people in the West, gluten and dairy are the two most common allergens). By eliminating these foods, over time, you will probably notice your immune system calms down, and thereby, your allergies to animals ease as well. A few great science-based resources/books are Recognizing Celiac Disease, Living Gluten-Free For Dummies, and Going Against The Grain.
Liz Schau, CHHC
Certified Holistic Health Counselor
Nutrition & Natural Health for Hashimoto’s Disease
Dr. Root’s Answer:
Your situation regarding allergic reactions is pretty common, and many individuals respond to a generalized gluten-free diet, whether they’re certifiably gluten intolerant or not. There are various distinctions between types of sensitivity reactions (IgG, IgM, IgA, IgE, etc…) and types of proteins that may trigger those reactions. It’s not usually a "this causes that" approach, as in the classic peanut allergy scenario; which is not an accurate model within this context. Individuals who might have inflammatory conditions or immune dysregulation, whatever the cause, tend to do well with gluten-free diets by eliminating gluten as a common inflammatory trigger and immune stressor. There are verifiable cross-reactive events that make diagnosis complicated and seemingly unrelated. Some reactions are delayed, and some are immediate, depending on the individual’s particular immune chemistry and regulatory integrity.
It might take a few weeks to notice the difference after the dietary change .. some people notice it within a few days. It depends on symptoms and type of immune issue and genetics are involved. For example, an individual with a neurodegenerative disease won’t be aware of the problem until they develop Parkinsonian symptoms in their 60’s, but an individual with gastro-intestinal inflammatory issue will feel badly hours after a meal.
Actually, it is quite science-based, and there is plenty of information available on the subject in peer-reviewed literature. You could spend weeks on the PubMed database, for example, reading related papers ranging from gluten related immune regulation to neurodegenerative diseases related to gluten reactivity.
The most current approaches in scientifically based assessment and validation of these gluten immune reactions are by Dr. Ari Vojdani, who is the guy who pioneered IgG testing many years ago. Now, he’s involved in applications used for identifying (and validating) immune reactivity to different types or fractions of glutens, so patients can know which specific types of glutens they’re reacting to, and the extent of their reactivity, and any related neuro-immune issues, like opiates related to an allergen, that may be related to their individual profile.
Cyrex Labs has 4 different types of immune panels, and are working on a 5th, and provide affordable testing – the most current available.
So, for definitive, personalized diagnoses, that’s the way to go.
Dr. Aaron Root, D.C., DACNB, Dipl.Ac., FACFN
Diplomate, American Chiropractic Neurology Board
Diplomate, International Academy of Medical Acupuncture
Fellow, American College of Functional Neurology