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Alpha Nutrition Program Concepts and Methods
The Alpha Nutrition Program was developed as practical medical management of food-related illnesses. There are many motives for doing diet revision. The program is modular and can be adapted to patients with different dysfunctions and diseases.
The Program began with observations that some food-selection patterns are associated with dysfunction and disease. The original design of the program; focused on the management of; delayed patterns of food allergy; a complex set of problems that are poorly understood, seldom diagnosed, and seldom managed properly. Food allergy often co-exists with digestive and absorption disturbances, as well as metabolic and biochemical problems.
Nutrition can be thought of as an idealized, abstract look at the possible (but not real) outcomes after eating foods. The role of foods themselves, as regulators of internal body dynamics, are relatively ignored. The possibility of things going wrong with digestion, absorption, metabolism, and with immune surveillance of these processes, while considered in medical science, is seldom a concern in medical practice. The dietitian often assumes that nothing will go wrong with food-body interactions - nutrients that are in the food are available to the body without complications. The physician generally assumes that nothing will go wrong or will consider a small number of adverse effects ignoring a number of pathological possibilities which are the keys to enigmatic diseases.
The literature refers to five basic methods of diet revision.
The elimination diet became the allergists main tool of diagnosis and treatment. Often elimination lists were based on skin or other tests. The IgE model of allergy postulated that single foods were responsible for symptom production and that their avoidance would leave the patient asymptomatic. Dietitians are usually equipped with avoidance lists that show a variety of products which contain the food or food group to be avoided.
The assumption is that the patients existing diet is perfectly adequate and eliminated offending foods will leave the patient intact with good nutrition. If skin tests were positive to several foods the patient would have several elimination lists and would often feel frustrated and confused about what to eat. Elimination diets are seldom constructed from a positive image i.e. a program which shows the patient what to eat, how to construct nutritionally adequate meals, how to answer other health needs by diet revision.
The "hypoallergenic or oligoantigenic" diet is a selection of foods that are thought to be well-tolerated. The idea is to retreat to these foods in an attempt to clear symptoms. Many different "few-foods" list have appeared in the literature - they vary with local taste and custom. The consensus has always been that the high risk foods - milk, wheat (rye, barley, oats), red meats, eggs, soya, corn, citrus, nuts and processed foods with additives and preservatives - are avoided. Egger and his colleagues, for example, chose lamb, chicken, potatoes, rice, banana, and apple as the first foods in their oligoantigenic diet. Supplements of vitamins and minerals are included to improve the nutritional value of the diet. Following a successful remission of symptoms, foods are reintroduce one at a time to assess their reactivity.
Elemental or chemically-defined nutrient formulas (Alpha ENF) have been used to obtain more complete control of antigen-entry and to assure nutrient intake during a symptom remission period, a food holiday or "washout". The concepts and applications of an elemental formula are detailed below.
The Alpha Nutrition Concept
A systematic method of diet revision with full participation of the patient in evaluating and selecting foods has never before been introduced into medical practice. There are important difficulties in attempting diet revision. Any attempt to fundamentally alter a patients lifestyle is bound to encounter resistance from many directions. More time and effort is required to educate, motivate, and support any patient who wants to change.
Resolving the problems of; delayed patterns of food allergy in common disorders such as eczema, migraine, asthma, irritable bowel and "sick-all-over" is a priority. The Alpha Nutrition method of diet revision was influenced by allergy practice. The initial concept of an elimination diet was that patients began with a few foods until symptoms cleared. We recommend re-introducing a set of normal, nourishing foods that have the least probability of causing problems. Common foods such as milk, wheat, and eggs are often involved in causing problems and long-term success depends on creating an alternate diet which features other staple foods.
Properties of the Alpha Zone
The idea of a "core diet" was that everyone probably has a small set of best-fit foods that would allow normal if not optimal function. A standard diet revision method emerged over many years was called the "Core Program". Alpha Nutrition has absorbed the Core Program in an expanding set of goals and concepts. The diet revision routines are based on numerous decisions and policies which accomplish three important goals:
The core-concept made good nutritional and economic sense. Human diets all over the world are based on a set of staple foods. Most human beings have always relied on a few foods to supply most of their daily calories. In poorer areas of the world a single staple tuber, grain, or vegetable may be the principle food supplying up to 80% of daily calories. I argued that the a return to simpler foods would have important biological advantages. Bodies seem to work better when they have a simple, regular food supply - no surprises. The core of a new, healthy, modern diet should be a small number of staple foods. But which staple foods?
The food allergy literature clearly identified cow's milk proteins, gluten, and egg white as three of the most allergenic foods; the top three were typically followed by some nuts, soy, citrus, corn, red meats and then a scattering of other foods. The best foods overall were cooked vegetables and rice was staple grain with a lower incidence of problems. By using food lists in the allergy literature, and then keeping score of food reactions as patients reintroduced food, a critical path emerged with a list of foods which offered the best nutrition and the highest probability of tolerance. This list eventually evolved into a standard path of food introduction.
Elemental Nutrient Formula (ENF)
To define what illnesses were food-related, a more precise tool was also needed. Allergists were among the first physicians to be interested in completely controlling the food supply, and some used a chemically defined set of nutrients to replace food. The nutrient set seemed the most definitive of all diet revision experiments. Nutrient formulas that could replace food completely had first been used in research and hospital applications. These formulas were known as chemically defined or elemental nutrient formulas (ENFs).
Several studies have demonstrated normal functioning with health benefits for volunteers living on ENFs for weeks at a time. NASA sponsored ENF development to define the minimum weight and volume requirement for human food. Elemental mixtures represent the ultimate reduction of food and had been referred to as "Space Diets". By replacing food intake with a chemically defined nutrient formula, the body does not have to deal with a host of non-nutrient chemicals.
The logic was compelling. If food problems were even remotely suspected in causing an illness, a trial of clearing on an ENF would confirm or deny food involvement usually within 10-14 days. If the ENF clearing proved successful, the Alpha Nutrition style of food reintroduction could become a standard method of redefining a safe diet. ENFs had been used to manage serious digestive diseases and to provide adequate nourishment when eating food is undesirable or impossible.
The Alpha Nutrition Sequence
Alpha Nutrition is a sequential process. The sequence is divided into three phases. The sequence of change begins with an attempt to resolve or clear existing health problems. The approach to Phase 1 involves the decision to attempt a clearing experience, followed by a second decision about how you are going to do this. Phase 1 consists of basic foods with the option to use Alpha ENF. The main feature of phase 1 is withdrawal - a period of several days when symptoms tend to erupt or increase in intensify before they resolve, usually within 10 days.
Once clearing techniques are working, the patient starts to reintroduce foods at a predetermined rate, usually one a day. The basic strategy is to continue to reintroduce foods if things are going well and to retreat to a simpler food intake (the previously established tolerated foods) if symptoms recur. The goal is to expand food choices as much as possible without compromising the improved state.
Listen to the Alpha Nutrition Program - Concepts.