Monday, July 5, 2010

Food Allergies - The Key to IBS and Ankylosing Spondylitis?

I had a very interesting session with a nutritionist yesterday (Belinda Rennie at Cooper Health Clinic). I went to see her to discuss my diet as I have a couple of conditions that I believe food allergies can make worse. After managing my diet myself for three years and excluding foods that my web research told me could be 'trigger foods', I decided it was time to get some expert advice since how foods interact with each other and within the body is pretty complicated stuff once you look into it in detail!

I suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Ankylosing Spondylitis. What are these? IBS is a malfunction of, strangely enough, the bowel and gives you stomach pain, bloating and other unmentionables! Ankylosing Spondylitis is an auto-immune condition (similar to rheumatoid arthiritis) which means that the immune system goes into over-drive and attacks your joints and the ligaments between them causing inflammation and pain. Without treatment, the body's natural healing method is for the ligaments to slowly calcify into bone resulting in fusion of the joints together into one solid piece of bone.

The interesting thing my research had told me was that a lot of people with Ankylosing Spondylitis also have IBS. Coincidence? I don't think so. The thinking is that if you eat foods that don't agree with your system then this triggers the immune system, resulting in an IBS attack which can lead to the immune system getting a bit too excited and then attacking your joints. I had learned that a low starch diet could really help and as a result I stopped eating all cereal products (breakfast cereal, bread, corn, biscuits, cakes etc) and had a HUGE improvement. However, bread is a great food for making you feel full and almost all snacks you can buy are wheat based. So not an easy 'diet' to follow and hence my decision to see Belinda to understand whether it really is all cereal products I should avoid or whether there might be other options for me.

Two very interesting things came out almost immediately: 1. I suddenly became intolerant to garlic a few years ago - it makes me nauseous - and she said this could be a sign of a liver blockage (nothing serious, but could just need a detox or acupuncture therapy) and 2. buckwheat is not actually wheat, it is a seed and it can be cooked and eaten like couscous or in the form of Japanese soba noodles! She then went on to explain that it is widely believed in the nutritional community that food intolerances lead to inflammation within your body which in turn can lead to a huge number of chronic conditions (such as my two or others like psoriaris, type II diabetes, chronic headaches and more). This is because if you are constantly feeding your body a food that it can't tolerate then your immune system is constantly fighting that food and an overactive immune system leads to these problems. What can be done to identify these intolerances?

Firstly you can have a blood test done which then assesses your blood's response to almost 300 different foods; if your blood produces antibodies (immune system kicking in) to the food then it means you're intolerant. They grade the antibody response 0-4 with 0 = eat it without problem, 1 and 2 = eliminate for 2 months then reintroduce and see reaction, 3 = eliminate for 6 months then reintroduce and see reaction and 4 = eliminate for 12 months then reintroduce and see reaction. It's quite expensive to do it but I think will be well worth it if it means I'll know for sure how to arrange what I do and don't eat. They can also test for allergies but you would know if you have an allergy (although you might not know exactly what to) because you would swell up - luckily I don't have that problem.

Secondly, she offers Quantum Biofeedback therapy which involves a device being attached to you (head harness, wrist and ankle straps - sounds rather like an electric chair!) and a low electric pulse being sent through you to carry out an 'energy scan'. A good explanation she gave me was that all molecules are constantly moving so if a baby screams at the same resonance as a glass' molecules are vibrating then the glass will shatter. Other examples are an ECG that looks at your heart's electrical pulses and an EEG that looks at the brain's electrical wiring. So it is scientifically proven that the body has electric 'pathways' (in Chinese medicine these are energy meridiens). Quantum Biofeedback allows her to see if there are any areas of the body where the current slows down and this shows a blockage in the 'path'. The device itself can help to unblock your system, or acupuncture can do the same.

The blood test only identifies the foods that your body doesn't like, the biofeedback helps to identify areas of your body that aren't functioning properly (i.e. your liver) which could mean that you are perhaps not able to digest / metabolise the food you are eating properly. By combining both methods, you should get a much more accurate picture of what's going on. I'm starting with the biofeedback next week and will also have the blood test soon (the results take a week to come back). I'll keep you updated and if it works for me, you could try it too. I'll be the guinea-pig!


  1. oh i want to to try that too! i struggle with psoriasis, and i've so far eliminated gluten from my diet. i've cut down heavily on dairy, but i'm not sure what else i need to do b/c the psoriasis is still kicking!

  2. I wonder if this is going to clash with the contents of the French cooking dishes at Chateau 503 - perhaps it will be a knife, a few raw vegies and a plate during the search for the reason for the health issues. What with that blood tests for the alergies and the Electrical Shock Treatment (watch your hair stand to attention!), we are all in for a real hoot over the coming weeks with the updates.
    If it cures the health issues then great stuff, just enjoy the ride and keep- us posted.
    What I ask food plan for the holiday in the Far East I wonder.
    Remember a bit of what you like does you good!
    Have a good one and ENJOY.

  3. Thank you for the comments - I will let you know if these things work as we go along! A whole new realm of possibilities has also opened up these past few days with the book the nutritionist advised I get, so will write about that tomorrow.

  4. Bariatric diet must contain some amount of carbohydrate and 3 to 5 litres of water regularly. Fruits and vegetables are good sources of carbohydrate and fiber, rice and pasta can help too. Carbonated drinks should have to be avoided due to gas problem as much as possible.
    IBS Foods

  5. Thank you for your comment. Pasta is terrible for me but brown rice pasta or rice noodles are OK. No matter what you do or don't eat, though, I find that you will get some flare-ups regardless since stress and other factors also play a role.

  6. Hi,
    I'm currently awaiting results for an MRI looking for ankylosing spondylitis. I have had severe back pain, neck pain, and stiff joints for the last 4 years (since I was pregnant with my daughter). I have also had severe digestive problems and have been tested for Coeliac disease amongst other things and results came back normal.... I was told IBS was my problem. What is IBS anyway other than an umbrella term to cross off all the unexplained symptoms going on with the digestive system! I have started seeing a dietician and she wants me to begin on a strict elimination diet. It will be a massive challenge.

    I am wondering if you could tell me what you found out from your food tests and treatment? I learnt the food intolerance tests were not reliable- what did you think?

    I know i am a year behind all the last posts, so I hope someone is still there to talk with me.

    Thanks, Kim

    1. Hi, how did your mri come back? What did it show?

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