The timing of today’s question for Dr. Vikki Petersen is absolutely perfect, especially since I just published a rather comprehensive post discussing the test (and our results) that Dr. Vikki speaks of below, Cyrex Labs Array 4: Gluten Associated Cross-Reactive Foods.
To keep it very brief, I am wondering who you recommend for testing additional foods someone may be reacting to besides gluten.
I will take your question in two parts:
1. In our office we use something called a modified elimination diet to identify foods that people are reacting to. While gluten and dairy products are the most common, there are certainly others. We prefer this means of testing as blood tests will give many false positives in the presence of a leaky gut and scratch tests are useless for food reactions.
2. We also utilize an excellent test for identifying cross reactive foods. These are foods that your body reacts to in the same fashion as it reacts to gluten due to mistakenly identifying the protein in the non-glutinous food as that of gluten. Such foods include dairy products and grains mostly.
I know Heidi has my YouTube video posted on her site (click here) about #2 above as well as some data about the modified elimination diet (see below). You can also visit my website at: www.healthnowmedical.com.
Both of these areas are very important to identify in order to regain optimal health after discovering a gluten intolerance.
I hope this was helpful. Please do feel free to write back with any further questions or contact the clinic directly for information on our destination clinic.
To your good health,
Dr Vikki Petersen
You can see Dr. Vikki’s video on gluten associated cross-reactive foods in this post.
In the following video, Dr. Vikki discusses why she does not use blood tests for IgG food sensitivities (like the ALCAT):
The Modified Elimination Diet
Ahhh, the modified elimination diet (MED for short). Oh how I loved thee (not). Actually, hind site being what it is, the MED is really not that bad, especially after having spent the past 5 months off of all the gluten associated cross-reactive foods I tested positive for on Array 4 from Cyrex Labs. The hardest part of the MED for me was not being able to have vinegar and citrus, which meant condiments were very hard to come by (I did manage to make one though, a creamy garlic sauce that I used in this chicken salad recipe). Looking back at when we began the MED in January, I have to chuckle recalling how I felt, “Oh. my. gosh. There is NOTHING LEFT TO EAT!“
Can you remember the last time you felt that way? Was it perhaps when you began the gluten-free diet?
I felt that way too when I was diagnosed with celiac in 2005, I think everyone does to some degree. There is definitely an adjustment phase (and this can last much longer for some than it does for others) as one has to basically begin looking at life in a completely different way. Everything you have ever come to know about food (and the emotional attachments that come with it) gets turned upside down. I had an exceptionally difficult time and I will share more about that component of healing in a future post (it is an extremely important topic that isn’t discussed nearly as much as it should be), but know this: not only did I eventually pull myself out of the depths of despair, I did a complete 180 in the attitude department.
And not only did I embrace the gluten-free lifestyle (I never use the words gluten-free diet in my real life because I am not on a short-term weight loss plan, this is just how I eat), but as I gained more knowledge on health and nutrition, my driven determination to get healthy went into hyper overdrive. While I have learned a lot of technical medical information over the past 18 months, none of it compares to what I learned about myself on the MED.
As I have mentioned many times over, I have atypical celiac disease. I do not experience any of the common *noticable* symptoms when I get glutened: no diarrhea, no constipation, no migraines, nada zip. I think this is because I have what I like to call a passive-aggressive immune system: it sends me indirect mixed messages until it can’t take it anymore and goes absolute postal on me (hmm, I think I suddenly understand why my husband goes into hiding at a certain time of the month).
I had been living with gluten intolerance for nearly 30 years when *seemingly* all of a sudden, I was diagnosed with 5 autoimmune diseases. And the last time I intentionally cheated on the gluten-free diet, it took 7 weeks of eating gluten-filled meals 3 times a day before my dermatitis herpetifomis exploded in a rash biblical proportions (gluten didn’t make me feel bad as I was eating it, which is why I continued to cheat for 3 years after my diagnosis). How could I have a disease, if I didn’t “feel” sick??
What the modified elimination diet did for me was nothing short of miraculous for me (the MED is a good use of the word “diet” because it’s temporary). About 7 days after removing dairy, eggs, peanuts, soy, shellfish (tree nuts and cold water fish like salmon are allowed on this diet) plus beef, pork, corn (which I had already done upon the discovery of my IgE corn allergy last fall), strawberries, citrus, vinegar, alcoholic beverages, coffee and sugar from my diet, I noticed something really unusual.
I noticed me.
Honestly, I cannot even begin to explain how amazing I felt. Now, part of that euphoria was probably due to coming off my coffee (I was a 2-pot a day black coffee drinker) and sugar withdrawal (I had a serious Haribo gummy bear addiction, going through nearly a pound a day). THAT was not easy let me tell you, but I did it and it was worth all the pounding headaches, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde mood swings (though my husband may beg to differ) and the relentless jitters.
I noticed other things changing in my body as well. My eyes, which had long been puffy and red with an enormous amount of baggage underneath, cleared up and the puffiness began to go away. I lost 10 pounds of water weight (bloating is a pretty good sign of intestinal inflammation. I loved Dr. Delise Dickard’s guest post over at Gluten Free Easily, titled The Beer that Saved My Belly, check it out). I also began sleeping better, heading to bed at 9:30 versus 2 or 3 am (this was when my sugar cravings would hit me the strongest and I now know my cravings were likely a symptom of my adrenal fatigue, as well as a few other issues that Dr. Vikki talks about more extensively in her article How To Cure Sugar Cravings…and by George, if she isn’t right, I haven’t had a craving for sugar in nearly 8 months, WOOT!) and waking up at 6 am, without feeling so hungover that one would think I had partied too hard the night before (nope, it wasn’t vino, it was THE GUMMY BEARS!).
The key point I’m trying to make is that once I removed the foods that are known to cause problems for a lot of people and my immune system had time to take a breather from the constant influx of dietary antigens passing through my intestinal barrier, my body was finally able to start* doing what it was designed to do…the art of healing.
*It is important to note that the modified elimination diet is just one (of many) steps on the journey towards healing the intestine, which (in case you didn’t know), is home for approximately 70 – 80% of the human immune system, but I will save that topic for another day.
Have you ever done an elimination diet? If so, please consider sharing your experience in the comment section.
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