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Detox Step by Step 2


Eliminating Allergens and Detoxifying Your Body

(Last of Two-Part Series)
By Mark Hyman, MD


The following is, in part, from The UltraMind Solution.

Last week, I explained why inflammation and toxicity are at the root of so many weight and healthy problems. I also explained how sensitivities to foods many consider "healthy" can lead to a leaky gut and cause a vast array of health problems. And I outlined the first steps you need to take to set the stage for a food allergy elimination and detoxification program.

This week, I'd like to explain how to undergo such a program—what foods you need to get out of your diet and how to limit the toxic inputs in your environment.

Let's start with food allergens since it is such a huge problem for so many.

The stresses of our modern, toxic, genetically altered, nutrient-depleted diet; the stress of our lives; and the overuse of antibiotics and other gut-damaging stresses have led many modern humans to suffer from delayed or hidden food allergies. This is the result of a leaky gut as I explained in my video "Inflammation Makes us Sick and Fat." A leaky gut can cause you to have "allergic reactions" to many of the foods you eat. These "allergies" may manifest as a wide variety of symptoms including:

  • Weight gain
  • Difficulty losing weight
  • Nasal congestion
  • Chest congestion
  • Headaches
  • Brain fog
  • Difficulty remembering things
  • Mood problems (depression, anxiety, or anger)
  • Sleep problems
  • Joint aches
  • Muscle aches
  • Pain
  • Fatigue
  • Changes in your skin (acne)
  • Changes in digestion or bowel function

Getting rid of the foods you are sensitive to may resolve this laundry list of symptoms and many others. And it can happen very quickly. This is why, if you are stuck on the program, I strongly encourage you to get these substances out of your diet to see if they are a problem for you.

The only way to know what you are allergic to (aside from medical IgE and IgG allergy testing) is to eliminate certain substances from your diet, and then systematically add them back in. This is called an elimination/reintroduction diet.

The concept is simple. If you get rid of the foods that commonly cause bad reactions, you may feel better and you can heal. If you add them back and you get sick, you know you have a problem with them.

The most common and most serious undiagnosed immune or toxic reactions are to gluten and dairy (especially the casein, and not so much the whey component of dairy). These are the main allergens and foods that cause difficulties for many. Stopping these foods can be life-changing if they are a problem for you.

The inflammation and toxic effects of these otherwise harmless and often healthful foods are so powerful in derailing our bodies and brains that they can lead to everything from diabetes to depression, autism to ADHD, and more. That is why I recommend a short holiday from these two worst offenders, which are unfortunately the staples in our diet.

In addition to the toxic sugars and fats I asked you to take a holiday from earlier in the program, for the next six weeks I want you to eliminate the following foods:

  • Gluten (from wheat, barley, rye, spelt, kamut, triticale, and oats).

  • And dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt, sour cream, ice cream).

This means a complete 100 percent elimination of all gluten, no exceptions (not even a crumb), and all dairy foods (not even a drop in your tea) for a full 6 weeks.

That is enough time to feel better, and notice a change. And it is long enough that when you add it back, you will immediately see how you react to it.

In Week 15, I will teach you how to systematically reintegrate gluten and dairy and test for reactions to see if they are contributing to your health problems.

But be warned: gluten and dairy (or other hidden allergens) may not cause symptoms for up to 3 days after eating them. That is why carefully reintroducing these foods and monitoring how you feel for three days is necessary.

In some cases you may have to eliminate some foods you are sensitive to for a longer period of time or avoid them altogether if you want to maintain long term health. I will explain all of this in more detail later in the plan when I talk about food reintroduction.

The beauty of an elimination/reintroduction diet is that it gives you the power of knowledge—the power to know whether these items are contributing to your mental health problems. Then you can make choices about what you eat and what you avoid based on your experience with food and how it affects you.

So remember: For the next 6 weeks I want you to get ALL gluten and dairy out of your diet. In Week 15, I will explain how to reintegrate these foods.

What if I am Allergic to Other Foods?

While gluten and dairy are the most important allergens that lead to brain problems, there are a few other common allergens that may contribute to your health problems as well.

However, since these are not the most important or as common in creating health problems I have not addressed them in this program.

For an in depth discussion of delayed food allergies and a comprehensive elimination diet see The UltraSimple Diet Challenge. The following list constitutes the staples of the American diet. It is also what we become allergic to if we have leaky gut lining.

If you do not experience relief by eliminating gluten and dairy for 6 weeks, there may be other hidden culprits. Blood testing for IgG food allergens (www.immunolabs.com and other labs) may help you identify more uncommon foods that are responsible for symptoms. Or, you can go on a more comprehensive elimination/reintroduction diet like the one outlined in The UltraSimple Diet Challenge to help you.

The top food allergens are:

  • Gluten (barley, rye, oats, spelt, kamut, wheat, triticale—see www.celiac.com for a complete list of foods containing gluten, as well as often surpising and hidden sources of gluten (salad dressing, soup, beer, etc.
  • Dairy (milk, cheese, butter, yogurt)
  • Eggs
  • Yeasted products (wine, vinegar, breads)
  • Corn
  • Peanuts
  • Nightshades (tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, potatoes)
  • Citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits, etc.)
  • Soy

A few others deserve honorable mention but are not as common. They are chocolate, tree nuts, vinegar, and shellfish.

If you would like a step-by-step, comprehensive, 7-day system for eliminating all the most common food allergens please see my home coaching program The UltraSimple Diet Challenge.