By Dr. Walter Crinnion
Millions of Americans are dramatically affected by adverse food reactions, including 65% of the population who report digestive problems triggered by poor food choices. Between 30-50 million Americans suffer with lactose intolerance, and 15% of the world's population is intolerant to gluten. Today, if you take a poll of your friends and relatives, you are bound to find several that are avoiding gluten or dairy or some other common food. Gluten intolerance has reached such proportions that Domino's pizza has recently announced that they will be offering gluten-free pizza in all of their restaurants. Why are allergies and adverse reactions to the foods that you love and crave, so common?
The increasing load of environmental toxicants in our food, air, and water has been shown to cause an immune system imbalance that leads to increased rates of allergies and a limited ability to fight off infections. Such toxicants include some that we all breathe daily: diesel exhaust and car exhaust, as well as plastics, and a host of other compounds. A recent eyeopening study was published by a doctor in Indiana who noticed that his Amish patients did not have anywhere near the rates of asthma as his non- Amish patients. Amish vehicles may put out emissions, but those come from animals pulling them, not from diesel or gasoline engines. For the Amish, cleaner living is clearly paying off.
In addition to the toxic burden, and partly as a result of it, another major cause of increasing food reactivity can be found in the digestive tract. One of the main targets of all of the common chemical toxicants (including all the exhaust found in every urban area) is the mitochondria in each cell. The mitochondria in each cell are responsible for taking fuel (fats and carbs) and burning them for energy. Properly functioning mitochondria provide for healthy cells, tissues, organs, and a vibrant healthy being. The digestive tract is in great need of properly functioning mitochondria, as it must produce digestive enzymes in order to break down our food to provide fuel for our body's functions. The production of digestive enzymes requires a tremendous amount of energy that can only be supplied by mitochondria. When we are overburdened with toxicants, our mitochondrial function goes down and we are fatigued, possibly overweight, and have trouble with digestion.
When digestive enzymes are in short supply, especially those that break down proteins, there is a risk for developing adverse reactions to amino acids that must be broken down into single amino acids or small chains (2-3 amino acids) for proper absorption. When enzymes are insufficient, incomplete digestion causes absorption of longer chains of amino acids, ultimately triggering an immune or "allergic" reaction.
While the unburdening of toxins may take some time, taking digestive enzymes with each meal will help correct this digestive imbalance quickly. The enzymes that I have found most beneficial to persons with adverse food reactions include:
Dipeptidyl peptidase-IV—very helpful in breaking down gluten in the small intestine, dramatically reducing one's reaction to grains.
Xylanase—breaks down plant cell walls and helpful in digesting fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains.
Blended proteases —breaks down proteins at the various pH levels that are found throughout the digestive tract.
Blended amylases —breaks down carbohydrates at the various pH levels that are found throughout the digestive tract.
Blended lipases —breaks down fats at the various pH levels that are found throughout the digestive tract.
Alpha-galactosidase—helpful for digesting the carbohydrate lectins that are found in most foods.
The Everyday Effects of Digestive Problems. May 2008. American Gastroenterological Association, Foundation for Digestive Health and Nutrition Survey.
Lactose Intolerance: Information for Health Care Providers. January 2006. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. National Institute of Health Publication No. 05-5305B.
Wangen, Dr. Stephen. Healthier without Wheat. 1st ed. Innate Health Publishing, 2009. Pg 85.
USA Today, May 7, 2012 "Domino's offers gluten-free pizza crust"
Crinnion WJ. Do environmental toxicants contribute to allergy and asthma? Altern Med Rev. 2012;17(1):6-18.
Holbreich M,. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2012 Apr 16 PMID: 22513133.
Hausch F. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2002;283(4):G996-G1003.