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Food is Information.

You are what you eat.

Food imprints our cells with information

• Healthy food: cells work properly

• Unhealthy food: poor cellular function that can damage the body, such as inflammation

• Chemicals, additives and toxins change cell function

Functional Nutrition

Food is much more than calories
“All calories are not created equal”
Look at food and nutrients in terms of function

Immune cells are especially sensitive to dietary compounds.


• Phyto = Plant
• Example: Resveratrol activates longevity gene

• Example: Berry components such as anthocyanins protect your genes from damage



The effect of food on genetic expression and cell function

is a major cause of our epidemic of  Chronic disease



Immune cells, Inflammation, and Food Sensitivities

Immune System Basics

• An army of cells that defend your body from invaders of any kind

•Microbes: bacteria,yeast,parasites, spirochetes like lyme


• Anything that looks foreign, including food

Immune System Basics

The immune system is divided into 2 parts:

1. The innate immune system: First line of defense, ready to go

2. The adaptive immune system: Is primed by the innate immune system, needs time to respond (hours to days), and has memory

Innate Immune System

• Physical barriers: tight junctions in the skin and mucus membranes.

•Theintestinallining: mostimportant barrier for preventing food sensitivities

Adaptive Immune System

B lymphocytes: antibody producing cells • Antibodies are like “bullets” to kill

• 4 kinds of antibodies: IgG, IgE, IgA, IgM

T lymphocytes: cytotoxic killer cells • “hand to hand combat”

• Creates lots of inflammation

What is Inflammation?

• Release of chemicals and proteins from immune and other cells

• Role: Defend the body and attack the foreigner • But also irritates and can cause damage to    your tissue

• Brief: supposed to turn on and then off again

• Brief: supposed to turn on and then off again when “danger” is over

Chronic Inflammation

• Effects every cell in your body
• Local: pain in muscles (Fibromyalgia)

and joints (Arthritis)

• Systemic inflammation:

• Symptoms: brain fog, fatigue, feeling puffy

• Example: Fat cells

• Find the source: rule of tacks

Can Food Cause Inflammation?

• You bet!
• Food triggers release of:

• Inflammatory molecules

• Antibodies IgE, IgG, IgA (“bullets”)

• Food allergy vs food sensitivity: different kinds of immune reactions

Food Allergy

• Very specific immune response that is measurable by a conventional allergy doctor

  • Elevated IgE levels
  • Histamine release from mast cells
  • Obvious symptoms immediately after eating the food: sniffles, tongue swelling, hives,

Food Sensitivity

• You feel better when you don’t eat the food, and feel worse when you do.

• Can be any symptom:

• Gut: gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea

• Systemic inflammation: feeling puffy, brain fog and fatigue Skin rashes or headaches

• Arthritis or muscle pain

Testing for Food Sensitivities

• The best way is with an elimination diet
• Remove the top 6: gluten, dairy, soy, corn, sugar and eggs for 3 weeks.

• Reintroduce 1 at a time every 4 days, to see if there is any reaction

• When you reintroduce, eat the food several times a day for 2-3 days and observe. If you have a reaction right away, no need to keep eating it.

Lab Testing for Food Sensitivities

• Don’t have tests for all the possible immune reactions

• IgG food allergy testing is the most commonly used

• Good option for children because hard to do elimination diet

• Not good for gluten

• In adults I always do elimination diet, too.

Healthy Gut Scenario

• Food is completely digested in the stomach

• All of the “name tags” that make the food recognizable by the immune system are destroyed by enzymes and acid

• Healthy intestinal lining and barrier:
• The immune cells inside your body are not exposed to the “name tags” from the food

• Low risk of developing food sensitivity

Problem: Weak Intestinal Lining


• The cells that line the intestines are supposed to be connected tightly together

• Instead the “glue” is destroyed and spaces open up between the cells

• Large pieces of food, microbes and toxins can get into the body

• Called Leaky Gut Syndrome or Increased Intestinal Permeability

Leaky Gut Syndrome Scenario

• You have poor digestion

• You have a leaky gut

• Large pieces of food, with name tags intact, leak through the intestinal wall into your body

• Immune cells react to these name tags • Symptoms typical of a food sensitivity

Treating Food Sensitivities

• When someone has multiple food sensitivities, assume they have Leaky Gut syndrome

  • Restore healthy intestinal flora
  • Support digestion of the “name tags”
  • Remove problem foods for at least 6 months, usually longer because immune cells have memory.

Food to Heal the Intestinal Lining

• Cultured foods: yogurt, kefir
• With live active cultures of lactobacillus,

bifidobacteria and saccharomyces boulardii • Fermented foods: kimchi and sauerkraut
• Prebiotics: vegetables and fiber.

• Fructo-oligo-sacharides (FOS), which are compounds found in onions, garlic, leeks, rye, chicory, blueberries, and bananas.

• Inulins, which are found in chicory and artichokes

Food to Heal the Intestinal Lining

• Ghee and Coconut oil • Glutamine:

• Can be found in all animal protein, such as chicken, beef, and dairy

• Also in beans, cabbage, beets, spinach, and parsley, so don’t focus only on animal sources.

The important role of intestinal flora

in maintaining healthy Immune function and in reducing


Leaky gut has been demonstrated to cause autoimmune




Anti-inflammatory Diet: Sugar

• Sugar in the blood stimulates your immune cells to actively release inflammatory molecules that travel throughout your body causing damage and irritation.

• Avoid high glycemic foods like soft drinks, juices, foods made with white flour and processed sugar, candy, cookies, ice cream, etc.

High blood sugar causes release of inflammatory chemicals from immune cells.

Anti-Inflammatory Diet: Fats

• Trans fats and saturated animal fats turn into inflammatory molecules in the body

  • Omega 3 and 6 fats are turned into anti- inflammatory molecules
  • Dietary fat fills every cell membrane in your body and influences function• Important for communication between cells, and this is critical for immune cells and this is critical for immune cells.

Anti-inflammatory diet: Antioxidants

• Your immune cells are constantly exposed to toxins, microbes, chemicals.

• Need a constant supply of antioxidants to quench the free radical fire

• Vitamin C, E, Alpha Lipoic Acid

• Glutathione which is made from sulfur foods containing cysteine, phytonutrients in fruits and vegetables

Foods Rich in Antioxidants

• Vitamin C:

• Berries, cantaloupe, grapefruit, honeydew, kiwi, mangoes, nectarines, orange, papaya, strawberries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, red, green or yellow pepper, snow peas, sweet potato, tomatoes

• Vitamin E

• Broccoli, carrots, chard, mustard and turnip greens, pumpkin, red peppers, spinach, nuts and sunflower seeds, mangoes, papaya

Foods Rich in Sulfur

• Sulfur rich food:

• Contains cysteine to make glutathione

• Cysteine is found in most high protein foods:

  • Animal sources: pork, chicken, turkey, duck, deli meat, eggs, milk, whey protein, ricotta, cottage cheese, yogurt
  • Plant sources: red peppers, garlic, onions, broccoli, brussels sprout, oats, granola wheat germ, sprouted lentils

Vitamin D

• There are Vitamin D receptors in all immune organs and cells

• Vitamin D influences development of all your immune cells and keeps them in balance

• Most people are deficient unless they supplement • Food sources: Not many

• Naturally occurring: Cod liver oil and other fatty fish • Added to dairy products

Vitamin A

• Chemical name: Retinol, retinoic acid, retinyl palmitate (synthetic), retinoids

• Beta Carotene is sometimes called Vitamin A because it is converted to Vitamin A in the body

• Required for normal immune cell function

Foods High in Vitamin A

• Foods high in vitamin A
• Beta carotene is in fruits and vegetables:

• Asparagus, beets, broccoli, carrots, green peppers, kale, turnips and collard greens, pumpkin, squash, spinach, sweet

• Preformed Vitamin A:
• Liver and other organs: Cod liver oil

• Fortified Dairy


• Important role in normal growth and development of immune cells

• Beware: too much zinc can impair immune function, too.

• Food sources:

• Oysters, red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, seafood, whole grains, dairy products, peas

In Conclusion:

  1. Remember, you are what you eat!
  2. Test yourself to determine if you have food sensitivitiesand remove those foods.
  3. Avoid foods high in sugar, saturated animal and trans fats. These foods create inflammation.
  4. Choose foods rich in probiotic cultures, Vitamins A, D, zinc, sulfur, antioxidants. Supplement when necessary.
  5. Make sure your gut is healthy. If you have any digestive symptoms or if you learn you have many food sensitivities, consider doing a stool analysis from an integrative/functional medicine practitioner.



So y0u can see you are what you eat. Whole foods can heal or harm.

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