Talking about the common problem of food allergies with Dr Nicholas Jensen
Mark: Hi, it’s Mark Bossert from Top Local Lead Generation. we’re here with Dr. Nicholas Jensen, he’s a Naturopath in Vancouver BC. How’re you doing today, doc?
Dr. Nicholas: Great Mark, thanks for having me again. I’m doing fantastic.. how’re you today?
Mark: I’m good. So we’re going to talk about food allergies, how to determine and deal with them. Si guess the first question really out of that is how do you know whether it is a food allergy that’s got you not feeling particularly great?
Dr. Nicholas: I guess, this conversation started with the last talk we did regarding inflammation and obviously the topic of food sensitivity has come up. So how do you know really if you’re dealing with them? There are only a few things that happen throughout each and every day where you’re having a direct influence on your health. I mean, we’re bombarded with all sorts of environmental influences, whether it’s friends, family or stresses with work or whatever, which obviously all play a huge role in the health of the body, but one thing that is so consistent is what we put into our bodies every single day. When we start to take a closer look at how we’re feeling after each meal, over time we just get used to a new normal. So what we really want to do is take a step back and get a clearer look at the food that we’re eating and there’s all sorts of ways to find out if there’s a specific allergy or sensitivity going on. So is this a new topic, do you feel like or is this something you’ve heard of Mark?
Mark: Well sure, you know people talk about it a lot our son had a lot of, we self diagnosed, issues around all kinds of foods and so for a long time we were vegans and we followed a pretty strict diet because it really helped with our son’s growing up period and then as he got older, it seemed like his immune system was able to deal with a lot more stuff. He’s not a vegetarian, he eats whatever he wants and we’ve continued on with being vegetarian for the last 28 years. So it’s something I personally know, but I don’t have the background that you do so that’s where I’m interested in, well there’s the anecdotal stuff but then how do you guys know and pinpoint when you’re actually testing someone. What are the tests that you use?
Dr. Nicholas: When we’re doing the intake with a patient, we are addressing what are you putting into your body on a regular basis and for most people we would start to look into the food sensitivity picture when there is an obvious imbalance in the digestive process. This can be something that happens early on in life, people just go through life and deal with it – they just used to a new normal; or they decide to do something about it. In the western medical system everything is talked about with regards to allergy and the word sensitivity is a term that gives medical doctors and GP’s a shiver down their spine because it’s typically something that is not discussed and it’s not something they have experience with dealing. So many things get diagnosed as mood disorders, or chronic fatigue, or chronic migraine headaches, or heartburn, insomnia, hormonal imbalance… all these things get diagnosed under different ideas and the problem is because we’re just looking at the symptomatic picture. So if we take a step back looking what’s the bigger picture, what’s the underlying thing that you’re doing on a daily basis that’s possibly causing problems, now we’re getting somewhere.
So what we do is: we’ll do a blood test – we do a blood draw at the clinic and send it off to the lab – the lab is reading something called an IGG which is basically an antibody that reads high or low when introduced to a certain food item. For a particular food item, if your immune system is reacting to it, the IGG levels will be really high and could be moderate or mild depending on what it is you’re eating a lot of or depending on what your immune system does’t like.
So it’s quite different from an allergy, and to really separate the two – an allergy is an immediate reaction that happens in the body. It’s usually upper respiratory in nature, sinuses, nose, sometimes it can be difficulty breathing or asthma – so it’s usually the upper respiratory tract, can also be headaches and things too. The thing with allergies though, is it’s a short time frame – comes on strong usually and then it dissipates fairly quickly through the body, possibly within 24 hours at the most 48 hours.
Sensitivity on the other hand – it’s called a delayed hyper sensitivity reaction which basically means that this reaction can happen the moment you put that food item in your mouth but it can also last up to five days. And the issue here, is that so many people may only have this particular food item, maybe twice or three times a week, but because it’s a delayed reaction these symptoms won’t actually show up for a few days and that can become very frustrating especially when you’re doing things on your own and saying, well I tried this and I didn’t eat that today and no reaction, or I did eat this today and there’s a reaction. How do I know what’s going on? At the end of the day, it just causes a lot of confusion for people. So for those people that have a difficult time with some of the food elimination pieces, like following an anti inflammatory diet for example, we’ll often recommend a blood test to figure out what it is that their body is actually sensitive to. And once we find that, we put together a detailed plan or nutrition plan based on those food sensitivities and with the proper elimination, not with just the one or two items, but with say the five or six items that are really causing the problem, people have had extremely, profound benefit to eliminating them.
There’s always a problem that shows up when after we see people doing that elimination for that first month because we’re so used to eating a certain way and it can be a bit of a difficult process for some people – so they want to reintroduce those foods as fast as they can. And when you do that, that’s when big problems happen. So in particular, just thinking back to a few different patients who have done a too early reintroduction, their symptoms have come back in an extreme kind of way because their immune system is just hyper sensitive and waiting to react to that food item and when it’s brought in too early, the body has a pretty big reaction. So the general recommendation is 90 days to avoid these particular foods, for some people they need to wait a little bit longer but the whole goal is to change a lifestyle pattern; so these symptoms that are often diagnosed with different names start to clear. That sounds like a similar process to what your son went through.
Mark: Sure, you know like corn chips. Let’s pick on something, something thats an obvious and fairly, a lot of people know that corn is a pretty big culprit and can cause sensitivities. I love how you defined how sensitivities are different than allergies. To me it is almost like a sensitivity more of a chronic thing that’s ongoing and it just sort of runs you down – where the allergy is like – bang – it’s the punch in the head – like whoa I just can’t eat that and it’s obvious. So corn chips, if you cut them out of your diet – so what would be the result.. would somebody have less mucus, better bowel movement, more energy – how does this manifest?
Dr. Nicholas: That’s the funny thing with sensitivities. Like I said, where allergy is upper respiratory in nature and usually clears fairly quickly. A food sensitivity can look like almost anything. I’ve had people with food sensitivities that have had chronic migraine headaches, eczema rashes, psoriasis, joint pain, fatigue, mucus formation or chronic sinusitis, extreme difficulty with the bowels. And often, and here’s a case where someone with Crohn’s or colitis, very serious bowel disorders, so often, can’t say always, but they are so often an underlying food sensitivity problem. This is the funny thing, when people start to open up to food sensitivities they start to see that there’s such a vast array of symptoms that can happen for any one given individual and so I can never really predict what it is that particular food item will do once it’s out of the system. But like I said, when you’re taking someone who has had chronic digestive upset for a good part of their life, or difficulty breathing, or chronic joint pain or headaches and you clear that out of the way, it’s like you’re in a new body basically. Everything comes back on line, thinking clear, energy, hormones start to change to and it’s quite profound.
Mark: So if somebody wants to get clarity as to whether they suspect, because we really don’t know, the lay person without testing. Basically they’ve just got to book an appointment and come in say – hey, lets tune up this engine here
Dr. Nicholas: That’s just it. It doesn’t always mean we have to do a food test, I always want to let people know it doesn’t have to go there. Sometimes with some good coaching we can get some good resolve. However, for a good majority of people that testing becomes such a helpful tool because it is something we can track down the line too. We are in the day and age of needing objective information because there is so much – do this, do that out there and it’s easy to get lost on the internet reading all these different ideas or following a specific diet plan that’s been written in the latest book. Just because it’s general information or it’s popularized, doesn’t mean it’s going to be very specific for you as an individual. So that’s the focus that we try to overlay for the patient, that this is your nutrition plan, it isn’t your mom’s or sister’s or brother’s – this is your’s and if it works for you great. And like I said, when people do eliminate those things that are on the food tests, I’d say at least 90% removal of those symptoms and the phenomenal change and how the health is in the body. Definitely come on by or give us a call to ask about what is involved in getting a food test and maybe that’s the direction you need to go and maybe there’s another one for you. Look forward to seeing you.
Mark: So basically, it’s so complicated how are current health is a pretty complex stack of blocks basically and then what we’re putting into it is really different, as well as any environmental issues, or our own stress levels and what we’re doing to deal with the stress level that we have – all that becomes a really complex package that you need a professional to unpack and make sense out of what that complexity is and that’s where a Naturopath has the training and the experience to start to be able to make sense out of it. So you have a direction that works instead of experimenting.
Dr. Nicholas: Exactly. I can’t tell you how many people come in for their first visit with a giant bag of supplementation and a list of all the things that they’ve done. My first question is – how’s that working for you? – and it’s usually, I’ve been banging my head against the wall because I don’t know. I don’t know what these 10 supplements or these 20 supplements are doing for me but they’re supposed to be good for me.
So again, individualized, very focused, professional treatment is really helpful and it’s going to, like I tell most people, is you end up saving money in the long run because you’re actually targeting what needs to be targeted. So, who’s not guilty of that..before Naturopathic Medicine, I would of looked on the internet or looked in books to see what’s wrong with me, I’m going to try to figure it out. So just like if we’re going to get our computer fixed, or our car fixed – we’re not going to take it to our neighbour, we’re not going to ask our friends or relatives what we should do, we may ask for a referral to go see someone to seek professional advice and that’s what we’re recommending here as well.
You get targeted, focused health care that’s individualized for yourself and not for the general public.
Mark: Awesome. So if you have or you suspect you have any kind of food allergies or food sensitivities, this is the guy to come and see. Dr. Nicholas Jensen. You can see their website at divineelements.ca or give them a call 604-568-3735. Thanks Dr. Nicholas
Dr. Nicholas: Thanks so much Mark. We’ll see you again soon. Bye