Food allergies originate in the gut. The gut is where much of our immune system is contained and our food is digested. When our gut health is compromised, that can mean a variety of mild to serious symptoms including food allergies. The good news is that hundreds, if not thousands, of people have found it is possible to cure food allergies with a specific gut-healing protocol.
We will cover how food allergies originate in the gut, how to cure or reduce food allergies and sensitivities with a gut healing protocol, and what chronic symptoms may be food allergies in disguise, and personal stories of those who have successfully cured their food allergies.
What is a food allergy?
Food allergy is an immune system reaction that occurs soon after eating a certain food. Even a tiny amount of the allergy-causing food can trigger signs and symptoms such as digestive problems, hives or swollen airways. (source)
1. a means of healing or restoring to health; remedy.
2. a method or course of remedial treatment, as for disease.
Can I cure my food allergies with the GAPS diet?
The Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) diet has been used successfully to reduce, eliminate, and even completely cure food allergies in the past. Since the GAPS diet is a grassroots movement to reclaim our gut health, there isn’t hard and fast data. I get anecdotal reports about people reducing, eliminating, and completely curing food allergies all the time. It is possible!
In my own family, I have experience reducing sensitivity to gluten and dairy, and completely curing food allergies to eggs and dairy.
In addition, we are seeing that this can be done relatively quickly- I have seen amazing improvements in just 3 weeks of a gut healing diet, while others are curing multiple food allergies in 6 months or less.
This will have varying success with each person, but as you see below, there is hope and it may be worth a try for you!
Some comments I want to draw attention to:
Amanda: I cured my son’s FPIES and dairy/soy allergies in a year and a half (almost two years to complete healing, many smaller allergies were gone within months and most gone by a year)!!! We go Monday to determine if the final allergy can be checked off forever (peanuts..IGE and very high on tests, but a year ago was almost gone already).
I also cured my other son’s horrible eczema and SPD/OCD and daughter’s dairy sensitivity and yeast overgrowth with GAPS in about 6 months!!
Tanya: Cured my nut allergy… it was so bad I had to use/carry epi pen ….also had devolved allergies to grapes, trees, grass, bees, eggs, wheat and much more….all gone! Had a massive yeast overgrowth and got tips from you and other naturalist and worked on healing my gut.
*note from Cara: I do not ever recommend reintroducing a food you have had an anaphylactic reaction to in the past, the risks are too high.
Megan: I reversed my sensitivities to egg white, whey, kidney bean, green beans, and tomatoes in less than two months on the xymogen leaky gut protocol which also addressed my candida without having serious die off complications.
Doris: I cured my acid reflux and two years chronic cough! Lots of bone both and gelatin and eliminating dairy, sugar and grains! I used to vomit acid while in my sleep! Cured it in 3 weeks.
What about anaphylactic food allergies?
Anaphylactic Reaction: Hypersensitivity induced by preliminary exposure to a substance and usually producing a contraction of smooth muscle and a dilation of blood vessels.
Common symptoms: Racing heart, severe itching, swelling of mouth and/or throat, hives.
If you have had an anaphylactic food allergy in the past, it will always be advised to avoid that food. However, you may be able to lessen the severity of the reaction in case of accidentally contamination by focusing on gut healing.
Because of the risks, it is never recommended to re-introduce a food you have had an anaphylactic reaction to in the past.
If you choose to reintroduce a food that you have had a serious reaction to in the past, please be warned that in times of stress you need to be especially careful to watch for symptoms of your allergy returning, as stress can cause more gut permeability.
Skin Prick Tests, IgG, IgE, and other diagnostics
IgE reactions to food allergies are acute and can be life-threatening, as is the case of anaphylactic shock. IgG reactions to food allergies are lower in severity and cause things like nausea, bloating, headaches, or even seizures.
Skin prick tests, patch tests, skin injection tests, etc all expose the body to a small amount of a suspected problem food, and measure the immune response. This is used to try to identify food allergies, and can be helpful in some cases.
I personally do not usually recommend or use diagnostic tests for food allergies.
When a person’s gut is damaged, it is likely that they will test ‘allergic’ to whatever food they have eaten most often. Because the gut wall is allowing undigested foods through, the body is recognizing these foods as ‘foreign’ and will respond with an allergic reaction when they are injected into the skin as well.
This is not a genetic issue, this is a leaky gut issue. It is possible to get different skin prick tests every week and show different allergens each week depending on what you have eaten recently, and even the different environmental allergens that you have been exposed to.
Common food allergy symptoms
Think you don’t have food allergies? You may just have built up a tolerance to the food you’re allergic to, and it’s triggering a low immune response that is causing seemingly unrelated conditions. These are some fairly common allergens, and commonly associated symptoms. This list is not comprehensive, but it is a good place to start when you are starting to eliminate and track food consumption and illness.
- Eczema: Dairy, eggs, or wheat (more info)
- Chronic sinus or ear infections: Dairy (more info)
- Bloating, gas, and indigestion: Gluten, FODMAPS (more info here)
- Joint pain and swelling: Gluten, eggs, and nightshades (read more and more)
- Autism, lack of eye contact, seeming addiction to certain foods: Gluten, Dairy (read more)
How does my gut health affect my food allergies? I thought it was genetic!
There are a few ways that the gut is associated with allergies.
As we know, the body systems are all connected and work with each other in our body.
The air we breathe in oxygenates all of our cells, and if we’re breathing in dirty air, or air that doesn’t contain enough oxygen, our lungs won’t work properly, they will get damaged, and our cells won’t be oxygenated well enough. In the same way if we eat poor food laced with chemicals, and without the nutrition we need our gut will be damaged and our whole body will suffer.
- First, the gut (and really our whole body) is lined with a colony of bacteria. When the body is healthy and working well, we have beneficial bacteria that keep the opportunistic pathogenic bacteria held back. The beneficial bacteria also work with the wall of the gut to make enzymes for food digestion, stimulate cell regeneration, and help with immune function.
- Our good bacteria are able to crowd out the bad bacteria before they take root, much like a ground cover in your yard crowds out the weeds and prevents them from taking hold. When this balance of good-to-bad bacteria is off, the bad bacteria take over our guts, and our intestines are left permeable and the good bacteria aren’t in high enough population to help us with digestion.
- When the gut all is permeable, the good bacteria aren’t pre-digesting our food for us. This allows undigested food particles to slip through the gut wall and into our bloodstream, which the body recognizes as foreign.
- When the body recognizes food as foreign, the immune system is deployed and we have an allergic reaction.
- Because so much of the detoxification system of our body is housed in our gut, when our gut health is not in good shape, we get a backup of toxins. Like the pathogenic bacteria, these toxins can once again re-enter the bloodstream, and trigger an immune response, or even mood swings, depression, and more. In a healthy gut mild toxin exposure is easily accommodated for by the body, but in a damaged gut, we are unable to detoxify as well.
Placebo Effect & Stress
When it comes to food allergies, it is difficult to do controlled studies due to the placebo effect being high (source). This tells us that allergies may be exacerbated by our mindset… we stress about what we eat, cortisol is released, which then creates more gut permeability.
This can even show up in our children. If our child shows allergy to one food, we may feel immense stress in coping with that food allergy. Since children mirror (source) stress, our stress can raise their stress level, creating even more permeability in the gut due to increased cortisol, and this can result in more severe reactions to foods and more food allergies.
This doesn’t mean it is all in your head- I’m not suggesting that at all. You just need to be aware of your stress level as you work to eliminate food allergies. Deep breaths, meditation, doing activities that calm you, and simplifying your life as much as possible may be just as important as the food portion.
For many of you, seeing that there is hope will greatly reduce your stress, and when you increase the amounts of nutrient-dense foods your whole family consumes, you are better able to process stress in your body.
HOW DID OUR GUTS GET SO MESSED UP?
Eating more and more processed foods, antibiotics being prescribed so often, toxins in our water, fluoride in our toothpaste, lack of the fats needed to build cells, chemicals sprayed in the air to give it a ‘fresh clean scent’, pollution… It’s a wonder that we’re still here! Our skyrocketing chronic conditions are telling us THIS IS NOT WORKING.
We need to change. While a round of antibiotics might have been life-saving for your great-grandpa, it has detrimental effects on gut health, and over generations, our microbiome has become too compromised. We need to be careful with what we eat, what we breathe, and what we’re exposed to. This didn’t happen overnight, and it won’t be fixed overnight, but we can start taking the steps to change right now.
I want to Heal My Gut and See if it Reduces or Eliminates Allergies
There are some natural supplements that can help give you a jump start on gut healing. Check for allergens, do not consume foods you are allergic to until you have been on a gut-healing protocol for a few weeks or longer. I am not a medical professional, please check with your doctor before discontinuing or starting new supplements or medications.
- Probiotics (read this before taking probiotics)
We also need to make healthy changes to our homes and reduce our toxic load – these are pretty basic steps but can make a big difference. Click here to get a free printable checklist for a 30-day plan to get this started in simple steps
Next, we try an elimination diet. It’s so common that removing foods that often are allergy-causing, inflammation-causing, and cause a leaky gut. Removing dairy and/or gluten will most often relieve symptoms drastically even if you don’t think you have a problem with either. And then we can work our way back to really healing our gut with the GAPS diet. (click here for more information on working backwards to the GAPS diet)
Then once we are stabilized and eliminating common allergens from our diet, we can work on restoring gut flora balance and healing the gut. Most importantly, we clean up the gut. (click here for the GAPS intro diet for gut healing and sealing)
Probiotics can help, be sure to go slow (see how to introduce high quality probiotics here) – we’ll be introducing these beneficial bacteria, which will in turn kill off the bad ones – when this happens we can experience a rush of symptoms, so it’s important to go slowly (these are the probiotics that I use)
When the gut flora is balanced, we should crave healthy food, digest it well, have our immune system in check, and feel nourished, and be much less sensitive (or not at all sensitive!) to any previous food allergies.
To start with the GAPS Diet to Reduce Food Allergies
- Purchase the GAPS book to fully understand how important your gut is in your overall health.
- Use my GAPS recipes on Real Plans to plan out your meals according to GAPS principals and your specific food allergies.
- Get more intense healing with the GAPS Introduction diet.
- Gradually transition to a less strict diet as your gut is healed and your food allergies are eliminated.
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I am on GAPS and seeing a functional medicine doctor and am a little confused. The functional medicine doctor wants me to get a food sensitivity test ($300) to see what I’m possibly reacting to. I told her that I’m not confident that it’s useful to get the test because with leaky gut you will always be developing new sensitivities even if you identify and eliminate the current ones. She said yes, but some things cause a much more noticeable reaction than others and it is important in healing the gut to remove those things. How important is it to eliminate food reactions when healing the gut? I went through intro and reintroduced everything and didn’t noticeably react to any of them, but maybe I just don’t know how to listen to my body well enough. Is intro enough to identify these things or should I get the $300 test?
Hi Sunny, I tried doing one test with my daughter and it came back that she wasn’t sensitive to anything (she was on GAPS at the time) and I knew she was, so I was really skeptical and felt the money could have been better spent on a housecleaner, alternative therapies like chiropractic, or better quality meat. But that’s just me, of course you need to go with your gut.
We did see a KST chiropractor (you can google it for more info) and he was able to find some stuff that I needed to add to get increased healing in our bodies- specifically apple cider vinegar and D3 vitamins.
Based on my experience I’ll admit that I’m biased against expensive lab tests, but I just feel like I was able to get more healing by spending our money elsewhere.
We think my son has chronic FPIES, he reacts to tons of things just through my breastmilk. He reacts with mucousy, smelly stools, sometimes blood. Fish, beef, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, coconut, you name it. He hasn’t had any solid food yet because I’ve been too scared. I know the intro is not recommended for breastfeeding moms, is there any other tips you could give me? We did get him a baby probiotic I found through Dr. Natasha’s Gaps website, and that does seem to be helping a bit, however, I think I may have increased the dose too quick because he started getting more thick, smelly poops and blood in them again. We dialed back now after I read about probiotics on your page. We don’t do any toxic household or beauty products. I tried whole 30 a few months ago thinking it would help and it didn’t help anything sadly, that was before I knew all of his triggers, and even that it was food allergies. No one told me! Everyone said it was normal, but I knew it wasn’t.
Hi Adriana, sounds like you’re on the right track! You can do full GAPS when you’re breastfeeding, and I did GAPS intro while breastfeeding as well once my baby started solids.