Updated: Jul 6
Last week, in response to our article on cortisol and inflammation, we received this question:
"So what does one do when allergic to all fresh fruit and veggies?"
This is an excellent question, and one that is quite common among women.
Let's define the terms:
What do we mean by "allergic"? There are two types of allergic responses that we have to worry about in regard to food and chemicals. An Immunoglubulin E ("IgE") allergy manifests itself as a typical allergic reaction- immediate and noticeable. For instance, if little Abigail ingests or is otherwise exposed to peanut butter, her throat closes and she cannot breathe without a shot of epinephrine. Oftentimes, these allergies are life threatening. However, sometimes they can manifest as something less terrifying. For instance, if someone with an IgE allergy to citrus fruits spills orange juice on their hands, angry hives may immediately show up on on the affected area.
Your innate immune system has just been activated. The innate immune system is the first line of defense- the ground troops. The innate immune system is programmed to seek and destroy, no questions asked. The innate immune system knows your life may be in danger. This is what we call an IgE allergy.
With an IgE allergy, the affected person generally has a genetic predisposition to the offending substance. The body's specialized mast cells and dentritic cells are programmed to seek out substances that are toxic to the body. When the body is exposed to something like peanuts, citrus, or pollen, the dendritic cells send word that histamine needs to be released. Histamine is responsible for runny noses and red, itchy eyes- all signs that you body is trying to rid itself of something foreign. And inflammation at the site of exposure is the body's way of dealing with foreign invaders. The body is programmed to seek and kill invaders. So, exposure to allergen = immediate inflammation. Cause and effect, no?
But there is a second type of immune response. An Immunoglobulin G ("IgG") response is delayed and slightly more insidious. One generally does not notice an IgG response right away. An IgG response triggers the adaptive immune system. The adaptive immune system is specialized, like the special task force that flies in after the initial battle has been fought. The adaptive immune system has attended Ivy League schools and highly specialized and sophisticated.
The adaptive immune system does not seek to destroy everything like the innate immune system, but intelligently remembers offending substances and produces IgG antibodies against these substances. For example, if you contracted chicken pox as a child, your body will remember that pathogen and will seek to destroy it immediately if re-exposed, thus ensuring protection from the virus.
But for many reasons, bodies today are increasingly unable to distinguish other from self. Other would be varicella, or the virus that causes chicken pox. Self would be healthy food, a thyroid gland, or a pancreas. The body begins to attack the Self instead of the Other.
We call this autoimmune disease.
And an IgG allergy is associated with autoimmune disease. IgG antibodies are also what is produced when you have a "sensitivity" or "intolerance" to a certain food or chemical.
Well, how does that happen?
When the gut is compromised, the epithelial cells in the small intestine begin to separate at the junctions that hold them together. As the cells become "leaky", undigested food particles can slip into the bloodstream. Since undigested food ought not be in the bloodstream, the body sees these particles as allergens and mounts an immune, or auto-immune response. This is not good.
What do we mean by "all fruits and vegetables?"
Functional nutrition looks at each person as an individual. So I had to clarify with this individual about past medical history and not make assumptions. In this person's case, for a whole host of reasons, it was true that there was an actual IgE response to almost every fruit and vegetable.
How can this be the case? In most cases like this, we look to the liver. If the liver is compromised and unable to perform Phase 1 or Phase 2 detoxification, then antigens will get stopped up in the liver, which becomes, for all intents and purposes, clogged.
A clogged liver is a normal byproduct of living in a valley, of being exposed to toxins via adulterated food and chemical-laden beauty products, and of living in the age of post-glyphosate crops. We are truly exposed to antigen-producing substances on an hourly basis, and the liver has a hard time keeping up.
Some immune systems are more resistant than others, so this is not a problem for all people. But if it is a problem for you, it is possible that you are miserable. Hay fever, environmental allergies, food allergies, chronic sinus problems- these are all the result of a liver that needs some support.
Notice I did not say "a liver that needs detoxification". Your liver is an organ of detoxification. It can generally perform its job very well. But sometimes, it needs some support. A supported liver, in conjunction with a nourishing diet and plenty of rest and stress management, will perform its job very well.
Well, you say. How do I do that? Let's find out!
Consume bitter greens.
Eat a plethora of bitter, dark greens. Favorite choices are arugula, radicchio, watercress, kale, and spinach. These support your body's natural bile cycles. Bile carries toxins out of the liver and into the waste systems for excretion. A good bile flow means that toxins are being excreted properly.
Drink clean beverages.
By this, I mean filtered water. Add cucumber, mint, orange slices, or a shot of apple cider vinegar. Drink plenty to help your body's own filtration system. And of course, give your liver a few weeks' break from alcohol. It can't hurt. Lots of clean water will literally filter out the antigenic load from the liver.
Consider targeted Supplements.
Milk Thistle , NA-C, and supplemental Glutathione all help your body to utilize its own store of glutathione to detoxify and eliminate properly. I always like to use food as medicine first, but if you need some extra support, start here. Glutathione is your body's master antioxidant and supports healthy liver function.
In the case of our dear reader, it is not as simple as just supporting the liver. All systems of the body need to be considered, including the gut and immune system. It has taken a lifetime for the allergies to get as bad as they are. And it will take a while for the system to swing back into balance.
And of course, if you are bloated and gassy and in pain every time you eat fruits and vegetables, that is an entirely different issue. And an entirely different blog post :)
Thanks for reading,