According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, an estimated 50 million Americans suffer from all types of allergies (1 in 5 Americans) including indoor/outdoor, food & drug, latex, insect, skin and eye allergies. Allergy prevalence overall has been increasing since the early 1980s across all age, sex and racial groups. AND allergy is the 5th leading chronic disease in the U.S. among all ages, and the 3rd most common chronic disease among children under 18 years old.
It is that time of year again, and my inbox is piling up with inquiries regarding alternative treatments for seasonal allergies. There is a lot that we can do dietarily to support the immune system during allergy season and rebalance it for the long haul.
The protocol I use the most in my practice is called GAPS. GAPS stands for Gut and Psychology/Physiology Syndrome. The protocol has 3 facets: a dietary plan, a detox protocol, and a supplemental regimen. The protocol is always tailored to the client’s biochemical individuality. Also, type of allergic response, medical and family history, as well as reaction to the GAPS protocol, are taken into consideration.
The diet part of the plan targets the digestive tract and it is rich in healing foods that help heal and seal the gut lining. Allergies are often caused by digestive imbalance and are often accompanied by leaky gut or gastric inflammation. Science tells us that 70% of the immune system resides in the gut, specifically in the Peyer’s patches of the small intestine. For this reason, any therapy that aims to rid the body of allergies, will be futile until digestive dysfunction is addressed.
Back to GAPS now… The supplemental regimen helps re-establish healthy gut flora, and correct nutrient deficiencies. The detox part of the plan uses gentle measures (juicing, epsom salt baths, enamas, etc.) to rid the body of toxins.
Please note that toxins are not just environmental. They are also simply by-products of our metabolism. People affected by allergies either have more toxic by-products and metabolites to deal with, or their bodies are so clogged that they cannot handle “regular” toxic load.
In a nutshell, the GAPS protocol helps the body detoxify gently, while rebuilding good health from the ground up.
Detoxification can seem scary. It is natural to become concerned especially because many of us don’t know what detoxification really is. Detoxification is an ongoing metabolic process. Our bodies are constantly at work to detoxify environmental toxins as well as endotoxins (toxins produced within the body itself). Detoxification is also a nutrient-dependent process. Several amino acids, anti-oxidants, cholesterol and bile are necessary to neutralize toxins and carry them out of the body.
Most people don’t realize that a healthy body detoxifies naturally.
People with seasonal allergies usually deal with environmental substances, that are recognized are toxic by the body. There are also dealing with organs of detoxification that are usually clogged by toxicity produced by a less than optimal digestive tract. In this case we talk about leaky gut, pathogenic organisms inhabiting the gut, and maldigested food that rots, ferments, and rancidifies in the intestines.
GAPS people are usually pretty toxic, that is why the nutritional therapy work is gradual and gentle.
Beware of detox diet fads, fasting regimens, and miracle pills advertised in the media. The GAPS protocol doesn’t use any detox pill or fasting. Only nutrient dense foods, gut healing nutrients, probiotics, epsom salt baths, and when necessary enemas, are used in the beginning. Also, reducing exposure to toxins is as important as detoxifying the body.
The GAPS protocol allows the body to gently detoxify by supporting the organs of elimination, providing precious nutrients necessary to detoxify, and bringing in natural chelators in the form of foods (fats, fat-soluble vitamins, minerals found in bone broths and vegetable juices, etc.) and detoxifying baths.
For more information on GAPS, you can log on to www.gaps.me, or call me at 619.208.8159 to discuss is GAPS is right for you.
Francesca Orlando, NTP, CGP
Lead Instructor for the Nutritional Therapy Association, Inc.