I just got off the phone with Dr. Dane Buxbaum, a Naturopathic Doctor with a practice that focuses on clinical nutrition. My head is swimming with all the great food allergy information he just gave me. It was a fascinating interview, and I want to pass all this interesting information along to you. His answers to my questions, plus a couple from the ladies at the Natural Parenting group, are paraphrased below. If you have any more questions that you would like to add just comment below and I'll pass them along. Enjoy!
I have a B.S. in the nutritional sciences from the University of Arizona. This was in dietetics, which sets you up to do an internship and become a dietician. However I didn't become a dietician because they typically work in a hospital setting and manage disease as opposed to using nutrition as a therapy. Essentially the main goal is to keep disease from getting worse as opposed to better. So instead I got my Naturopathic Doctor degree from the Southwest college of Naturopathic Medicine.
Why did you choose Naturopathic medicine?
When I was in high school I had a ton of anxiety and general health problems. We had a family physician that was a great doctor but looked at everything from a standard approach, and nothing helped. I finally went to another MD that tested me for food allergies, using a IgG allergy test, which was very off the medical radar. It turns out I was allergic to gluten and dairy. It took about 6 months to have an effect, but I shed a ton of weight and my anxiety (along with other approaches to treat anxiety as well) became much more manageable. I went to the U of A and wanted to learn more about nutrition. Then I stumbled into naturopathy while looking at different career options. I knew that I want to be a physician but I wanted a tool box that included nutrition and I wanted to use a holistic approach. I could have gone the MD route and, much like the doctor I saw, utilize holistic means but then I’d have the obstacle of having to practice different from how I wanted to and then have to use my whole career to develop a tool box that I wanted. There is a lot of obstacles to being and ND, but I started out with a toolbox that I wanted. I use pharmaceuticals too when necessary, but I also always use nutrition and lifestyle changes.I also knew that I wanted to do primary care, which you can do with an ND license. From my personal experience I know it’s absolutely terrible to be dealing with debilitating anxiety as a teenager. It’s such a struggle, and you don’t have the character to deal with it. It’s really rewarding to help other patients with similar issues.
What are common symptoms of a food allergy?
Most people have digestive problems. That’s usually the giveaway; some degree of a GI, digestive, or bowel movement problem. In that case it’s usually at a minimum associated with a food allergy. Things like Irritable Bowell Syndrome and Celiac Disease come to mind.
What about the less common symptoms?
Less common symptoms include anxiety, depression, fatigue, autoimmune issues, arthritis, and inflammatory diseases and skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. When The GI system is irritated it has these domino effects downstream. Even if there is an allergy, eliminating it is never a silver bullet. Quite frequently it’s part of the dysfunction in the system, a component.Here’s an example. I worked with a doctor that used an elimination diet on patients with rheumatoid arthritis and it was amazing how many had an improvement in their symptoms, not a complete resolution, but still an improvement.
What is the most common food allergy that you see?
Here are the five big ones:
Gluten (like wheat, rye and barley)
Are any specific food allergies becoming more common?
A good example is Celiac Disease (an autoimmune disorder that damages the lining of the intestines upon reaction to the protein gliadin) We used to think 1:1000 people suffered from it. New numbers indicate that it’s closer to 1:100 (1:133 based on a study out of Sweden, 1:113 from a study conducted in the US).
Another example is dairy.
But in general, we grow food differently, process it differently different, and modify these foods such that we actually changing the protein structure (Jill’s note here, think about GMO’s). For example, the wheat that our Grandparents ate was different from what we consume now. We predominantly grow a high gluten wheat because it bakes better. That, along with reduced fermenting in bread baking, demonstrates that how we make wheat products has changed a lot.
I asked readers from the natural parents group if they had any questions they would like addressed. Two main topics kept coming up:
Why do we wait to introduce solids to children until 1, 2 or 3 years of age? It seems like it would be better to expose earlier at low levels to get the body used to the new food, as opposed to suddenly exposing at a later age?
This is a highly controversial subject. The reasoning for waiting to introduce highly allergenic foods, like gluten, soy and eggs, is because of immune development. If you introduce a food too soon the child doesn’t have the immune capacity to discern friend or foe. That being said, there is probably variability in when to introduce different foods. Some foods might need to be introduced earlier, or there might be an optimal window in which to introduce a food that you can lose quicklyThere are also foods, like peanuts can have molds. So those foods, which are high in contaminants, are typically withheld until later because we don’t want to expose a child to these products and challenge them early in life.
Has the incidence of Candida (i.e systemic yeast) infections increased? It seems more common a diagnosis as of late. If so, can you speak as to why it has increased? Along those lines, can you talk about how a food allergy is misinterpreted as a Candida infection?
Definitely, though it’s typically more of an adult diagnosis, It’s a normal digestive flora, the issue is when it becomes overpopulated. This overpopulation is a result of a gut flora imbalance, which can open the avenue for opportunistic infections. There are potentially two things that can influence this overpopulation. A lot of times we don’t have a good probiotics exposure. We used eat foods that could to help maintain or GI balance, but those foods have changed. We no longer have diets with such useful natural probiotics.Also our diets are full of sugary foods, which cause Candida to thrive. It allows the perfect environment, essentially a constant fuel source for pathogenic culprits. Thus Dysbiotic guts and high sugar diets are causing this yeast increase.Candida can present similar to a food allergy. Symptoms include skin conditions, GI issues, stool irregularity, fatigue, and headaches. However the big thing that is indicative of a Candida infection is sugar cravings, which thus helps the yeast continue to thrive.