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Food Group Exclusions
Alpha Nutrition routines are based on numerous decisions which arrived at a set of policies which do three important things:
Alpha Nutrition emphasizes a positive image. We prefer to talk mostly about the foods you should eat, and the things you should do. A negative image - things to avoid can be both complicated and discouraging. We have made decisions over the years about which foods are in and which are out. The exclusion decisions are based on a long list of criteria. But when all is said and done - it works! This brief review of exclusions is incomplete but gives you some idea about which major food groups have been left out. You would expect that junk foods, fast foods, high salt and high fat foods would be left out of a healthy eating plan. You might also expect that alcoholic beverages are best left out.
The toughest decision in formulating the Alpha Nutrition Program was to leave out foods that many people would consider healthy and even essential - cow's milk, wheat, and eggs turn out to be common sources of digestive tract abnormalities, food allergy and serious diseases such as celiac disease. These common but problematic foods have been excluded from the program. Some would argue that this is a radical exclusion that compromises "good nutrition". But we argue that far from being radical, the exclusion of these foods has proved to be one of the most useful strategies of helping sick people get better. Good nutrition is possible without these foods. There is no risk in leaving out milk, wheat and eggs and there may be surprising benefits. Eventually, you will decide for yourself, but when you start the program, you will have to be experimental and just try it.
The Alpha Nutrition Program Is Gluten-Free
Alpha Nutrition is gluten-free which means the exclusion of wheat, rye, barley, and all the food products made from them - flours of these common grains - white and whole-wheat flours, Durham flour, triticale, and bulgar are all excluded. Spelt and Kamut are wheat varieties that are left out. Gluten is a name given to the protein fraction of the cereal grains (wheat, rye, barley) which gives them their sticky elastic properties. Bread is the most desired wheat product and is, unfortunately, the hardest food to duplicate with non-grain flours. Gluten elasticity is essential for most breads and baking. The exclusion of cereal grains significantly alters vegetarian regimens dependent on grains. Regular pastas are made with high gluten flour and are replaced by rice-based pastas.
There are many possible reasons for cereal grains to become pathogenic. We know that wheat disease is a common problem in our modern urban patients. Craving and compulsive eating of flour-based foods is common, especially reward and dessert foods, containing wheat, sugar, milk and eggs, the 4 foods of the allergy apocalypse. Whole grains also contain phytates which bind desirable minerals, preventing their absorption. Mineral malabsorption - calcium, magnesium, and zinc deficiencies may occur with diets high in whole grains.
Celiac disease - chronic diarrhea, usually with malabsorption and a variety of other health problems which we think is food allergy - is a model of gluten allergic disease. The mechanisms by which wheat or any other food can cause disturbances are numerous. Painful inflammatory states may be the presentation of gluten allergy. The occurrence of pain in joints, particularly the hands, with slight swelling and stiffness is the early presentation of allergic arthritis; it can occur strictly as a manifestation of gluten allergy. A wheat gluten mechanism has been studied in rheumatoid arthritis patients. Many other food allergens can trigger arthritis.
Dairy and Eggs
Cow's milk, dairy products and egg whites are excluded. We are concerned with the protein fraction of cow's milk, not the fat, nor lactose, the milk sugar. Lactobacilli and lactaid do not solve the milk allergy problem. Milk proteins remain much the same in all dairy products so that all derivatives of milk should be avoided. Milk proteins are added to foods in the form of milk solids, whey and casein - these foods are also avoided. Allergy to cow's milk is the best studied form of food allergy. Cow's milk contains many proteins which are antigenic. Infants and any adult with gastrointestinal tract disease may have difficulty digesting these proteins and may absorb them as antigens.
Casein is a commonly used milk protein in the food industry; lactalbumin, lactoglobulin, bovine albumin, and gamma globulin are other protein groups within the milk. There are at least 30 antigenic proteins in milk. Digestion probably increases the number of possible antigens to over 100. On food labels milk protein is identified as whey, caseinates, skim milk powder, and milk solids. Digested fractions of each of the milk proteins may induce the production of antibodies and may trigger complex, variable immune responses. The digestion of any given protein will vary and depends on multiple factors.
The symptom response to antigen absorption is variable and emerges from minutes to hours after eating foods containing milk proteins. The variability of symptom production can confuse both patients and physicians. Milk allergy usually presents as part of a food allergy complex. Digestive symptoms are common, including indigestion, heartburn, excessive gas, and abdominal pains with constipation and/or diarrhea. Milk allergy may interfere with the digestion and absorption of other nutrients and may present as anemia, secondary to blood loss. Any food allergy which disturbs gastrointestinal tract function tends to multiply its effects. Many adult patients describe a history of childhood difficulties, with recurring or persisting concentration problems, hyperactivity and/or depression. Childhood dysfunction may evolve into adult disabilities. Sometimes dairy products (and wheat) are sedating. Adults report chronic fatigue, mental fogginess, difficulty concentrating, recent memory drop-outs, anxiety and sleep disturbances. Uncontrollable sleepiness may follow meals containing milk or wheat proteins. Other nervous system effects are described by patients: restless legs, itching, prickling and burning sensations deep inside arms and legs, or a generalized body discomfort and agitation which may be dramatically disturbing.
The incidence of cows' milk protein allergy has been underestimated at about 7% of infants and children. This estimate refers to incidence of skin-test -positive allergy (type 1 allergy pattern). We have read the opinion that milk allergy is "rare in adults"; an absurd opinion. Allergy incidence estimates may be based on the narrowest definition of "allergy" and on inadequate experience treating patients with delayed forms of milk allergy (skin tests are not positive) which cause the more common and more serious patterns of disease. We believe the incidence of milk allergy is much higher.