Weaning and recovery

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food-groupsBeing allergic or intolerant is not, as believed until recently, a weakness or a misfortune. Simply, it is the loss of the active control system that every living being has in place from birth (and in part also during fetal life) in order to win, not effortlessly, tolerance towards all the substances surrounding, either food, respiratory or environment-related.

Studies such as those by S. Stockinger made clear that child weaning is actually the most important time to give each organism not only the ability to develop tolerance, but also to determine the structure for the immunological control of inflammation and for the prevention of the major chronic diseases (Stockinger S et al , Cell Mol Life Sci 2011 Nov, 68(22):3699-712. Epub 2011 Sep 28).

What is feasible in the neonate is also possible once again in the adult when tolerance has been lost. It is essential to recover food tolerance in an active way.

In other words, everybody was born intolerant and allergic to everything and only an active control makes the difference between a person who maintains tolerance (that is, the healthy person) and who loses it (becoming, in fact, allergic or intolerant).

Anyone alive today can see around himself/herself the result of one of the largest statistical samples ever existed. Nearly 7.5 billion people currently living (some well, some badly), who have passed the initial condition of hypersensitivity to anything through weaning.

By means of the gradual contact with the outside environment, made of mites, fungi, moulds, different types of food, bacteria, toxic substances and a multitude of other elements, everyone has been able to pass from a condition of violent reactivity to tolerance.

The ability to switch from a protected fetal life to the encounter with a world full of potentially harmful foreign substances without suffering damage, and learning how to tolerate them, is the true and physiological key to be able to deal with the current allergy-related problems of the individual and the world’s population.

If the contact with the outside world happens in the correct way, that is, if it develops according to the personal features and timing of the normal individual while respecting the physiological rhythms shown in hundreds of thousands of years, tolerance succeeds and the outside world is no longer frightening. Instead, if after reaching tolerance the balance is lost, the signs of an allergic condition tend to appear, which is essentially the manifestation of a loss of control.

In some cases, the initial tolerance is achieved only partially and some children look allergic or intolerant since birth, but even in these cases it is likely to find out that the arrest in the immunological development depended on external traumatic factors (suspension of breastfeeding, pharmacological intervention on the mother or on the infant, vaccinations, etc.), that stopped the normal tolerogenic processes.

The outline of the dietary planning, which aims to recreate immunological tolerance, follows one of the most physiological processes validated in human history, which is indeed weaning. Through the gradual and progressive introduction of not tolerated foods, in the space of a few months (12-18) one can succeed in tolerating all edible food substances.

From the beginning, a step-by-step reintroduction is arranged, initially in small quantities, which then gradually increase in at least two days of the week, and should then progressively reach an almost free diet on every day of the week, or at least adopting the idea of the “lean Friday”, that is, one day a week of food control.

The diet for tolerance recovery

In the current social and environmental situation it is essential to promote a varied diet, also because the systematic repetition in the intake of certain aliments (even if chosen to replace those not tolerated) easily gives rise to the appearance of more hypersensitivity.

A rotation diet involves the free intake – in a single day, followed by about three days of total avoidance – of the food towards which the intolerance exists.

In practice, for example, a milk-intolerant individual could eat milk, dairy products, desserts containing milk, cheese and other “banned” aliments on a Sunday, but he must then refrain from them – even if in the smallest quantities – on the following Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, being able to go back to take them on Thursday.

To allow for the greatest flexibility with respect to the typical social habits, it may be wise to leave Saturdays or Sundays as free days (please note, only one day of the weekend and not both), which is the day in which the individual eats more frequently with friends or relatives, and a mid-week day (for example, Wednesdays).

In such way, a good balanced compromise can be defined between the need to have three days of “withdrawal” in-between two free days, and the need to shape a diet like this as “doable” without causing serious organizational issues, while maintaining, most of all, the therapeutic efficacy of this dietary plan.

After a certain period in such diet – which can vary between 2-3 weeks and 2-3 months – if the clinical symptoms and the diagnostic tests result negative at that point, it is possible to reintroduce the food more frequently.

In case an IgG evaluation test has been chosen, the follow-up assessment should be performed on the clinical trends, because the IgG to foods often remain high for a few months, even though the symptoms may have completely regressed.

So, a possible scheme could then become the following: food freedom on both days of the weekend (Saturday and Sunday) and in another day in the middle of the week (usually on Wednesdays).

It should be clarified that by no means the free day should present an overload of the foods under control in every meals and snacks, because allowing oneself a healthy “step out” does not have to intention to trigger a habit in every permitted occasion, as the body should not suffer a systematic assault on its balance.

If the clinical response is satisfactory, then the patient may expand further the controlled intake of food during the next 2-3 months, until he gets to a diet that includes at least one day per week restriction (as we said, a sort of “lean Friday”), to avoid a systematic food reload.

The use of low-dose hyposensitizing tools, the so-called “vaccines”, may be suggested even when other tests have been performed previously.