For much of my life I had been plagued with allergies. Testing revealed that most trees, some grasses and many weeds were culprits. Though diagnosed with “seasonal” allergies, I must admit that over time it turned in to a year round affair. I started to believe that I was allergic to everything … dust, mold, animals, smoke, perfume. I maintained a daily ritual of one Zyrtec in the a.m. and one in the p.m., 2 puffs of Nasonex in each nostril and decongestant tablets at times but mainly in the fall through winter. Occasionally I needed a RX ointment for eczema flair ups on my forearms and behind my knees (Eczema produces a form of insanity with it – some of you know what I mean). As well, on occasion I needed a couple of puffs on my albuterol for the “sports induced asthma.” Did any of this help? NO! I was still miserable. I felt as if my head, 5 times its normal size, was balancing on my neck as it throbbed noticeably from sinus pressure. I sounded like I had a perpetual cold everyday of my life. Forget wearing eye makeup, between my rhythmic sneezing and persistent watery eyes, my mascara ended up on my chin.
Two weeks before my scheduled appointment to begin the process of creating allergy shots at my allergy clinic, I decided to try an elimination diet. This was completely coming from a place of unbridled desperation. I decided to eliminate gluten and dairy for 7 days as starters. I was aware of gluten (who isn’t, it’s posted all over the place) but I really didn’t know what it was. So I researched the internet and read a couple of books to boost my knowledge of the subject. At first it seemed like an impossibility because gluten seemed to be used in everything; couple that with dairy…also in basically everything. What I wasn’t taking into consideration is that yes, gluten and dairy are everywhere – if you are eating processed foods. Eliminate the processed foods and voila – all that remains are whole foods which are naturally gluten-free and dairy free for the most part. I don’t have a cow so no worries about milk. (The stuff in the store is processed.) Grains were an area that I needed to gain more insight because some of them naturally contain gluten. So I stuck to quinoa and brown rice. That left meat. It needed to be 100% organically grass-fed (not ever taken to a feedlots, because they feed them byproducts that contain gluten) and a personal preference, humanely raised.
I also went cold turkey on all meds so that I would know precisely if eliminating foods from my diet would work. The first couple of days were interesting because I didn’t feel all that different, but I was not taking meds so that alone was an accomplishment. Day three I start to feel slightly better and then…day four hit me like two Freightliners in opposite directions. I thought I was literally going to die! Feeling horrible, I took one Zyrtec and continued with the diet of veggies and fruits. After the nightmare passed, day five presented a completely different experience of clarity and energy. By day seven I was convinced that I had chosen the correct foods to eliminate. I felt so amazing. Very little sinus pressure, my skin wasn’t as itchy, I wasn’t sneezing as often and my eyes only watered at times – all without any meds. If you ever experience an elimination diet, you are supposed to reintroduce the eliminated foods after a certain amount of time. I was not prepared to do this because removing those foods obviously had a positive effect on me. I didn’t reintroduce those foods until 3 months later which solidified my original assumption that gluten and dairy were wrecking my immunity. It has now been two 1/2 years and I am 100% allergy med free and I haven’t been back to my allergist. I don’t have any eczema and while I do notice some pollens at times, I do not have the reaction to them that I had two 1/2 years ago. Besides healing my gut and immune system, I learned to appreciate the nutritional benefit of whole foods and how fantastic they taste. Yes, on occasion I cheat when I am out at a restaurant, but it never happens without regret. Keeping in mind that there are many different substances (not solely gluten or dairy) that possibly interfere with immune systems, maybe you ought to entertain the idea of an elimination diet. Let me know if you need help.