It’s not easy being a new mom. From adjusting to the lack of sleep, to figuring out your new routine, to navigating breastfeeding – it can be a little overwhelming. When your baby is fussy, you likely have a laundry list of things you check in order to troubleshoot. That list of questions might be:
- When did Baby last sleep?
- Does Baby have a dirty diaper?
- Is Baby hungry?
Those things are the standard go-to, but the final question that has a much more ambiguous answer is: Is Baby uncomfortable? If you’ve already seen our newborn diaper change technique, you know that when a baby is changed the wrong way, it can lead to issues like colic. But what else could be at the source of this discomfort?
If your baby is experiencing reflux or spitting up curdled milk, she may be having trouble digesting some foods you’re eating.
You can try an elimination diet (no dairy for a week, no gluten for a week, etc.), but the process can be time-consuming and involves a very strict schedule. It’s essentially a guessing game. Many pediatricians and other moms suggest dairy, but through the testing I do with moms, I’ve found that that is only a fraction of the problem.
We’ve known about chemical stressors causing interference to the way your nerve system functions for over 100 years. Chemical stress is one of the “3 T’s” of Trauma, Thoughts, and Toxins (Physical, Mental/Emotional, and Chemical stress) that cause vertebral subluxations, which cause havoc with the way your brain communicates with your body. Every human body is different, so no wonder the same food can have such a variety of effects!
Usually the body begins to function normally under chiropractic care because the nerve system is freed from the interference caused by these blockages. However, sometimes my patients unknowingly subluxate themselves with foods they’re sensitive to, and food sensitivity testing becomes just as important to their ability to hold an adjustment as good posture and stress reduction are to their nerve systems. That’s why I recommend the testing as an adjunct to chiropractic care rather than a stand-alone procedure, because until the system that runs your body is working well, we know your body’s physiology will always be one step behind.
Food sensitivity testing is a great solution for moms that suspect food sensitivities or allergies to be part of why their baby is fussy. Let’s explore food sensitivity testing, determine if your baby should be tested and explain how it works.
Common Symptoms of Food Sensitivities
The different symptoms that come from food sensitivities can vary widely from person to person, but here are just a few that will help you identify that there is a problem:
- Curdled spit up.
- Very gassy, fussy baby.
- Discomfort, screaming at the breast, refusing to latch.
- Eczema anywhere on the body
- Face rashes or excessive baby acne
- Green bowel movements
These things tell you that the body is trying to push out things that your child is consuming that they cannot digest. If food can’t be broken down, it sits in the gut and ferments. That’s what the curdling is all about. When things ferment, they create alcohol as a by-product. What do you do when you take in too much alcohol? You eject it back out. So you see, reflux for a child who has a sensitivity is actually the RIGHT response!
If your baby, child, or you are experiencing these issues you might think that Zantac, “Colic Calm”, steroid cream or other topical alternatives are options because they make the symptom go away– but they’re only masking the bigger problem.
Now, let’s explore how the concept of food sensitivity testing works in our office.
The Concept Behind Food Sensitivity Testing
The way we do food sensitivity testing in our office was developed over 50 years ago and involves paying attention to how a substance impacts a more global system- the electric field produced by your body. Yes, your body produces electricity! We all have electrical signals in our body; it’s what allows doctors to read our brain waves on an EEG or to stick our finger on a heart rate monitor to get our heart rate. Certain substances work with our body to support that electrical signal, while other substances like toxins or foods that we are sensitive to interfere with that electrical signal. This is what causes the body to not function as well, and what causes that symptoms that we listed above.
We test that by asking a parent to hold the baby (if you know how basic electrical circuits work, you know that that current passes through a conductor and gets interrupted by a switch, so pretend that these sensitive foods are switches) and also hold their thumb and pinky together tightly. When that electrical signal is strong, the parent has no issues doing this. When there is interference in that signal, the fingers easily break apart – and that indicates to us there is a sensitivity present.
What will happen?
There is no poking or prodding involved in this test. Because we use the concept of Applied Kiniesiology in the application mentioned above, we don’t need to actually put any of these foods into you or your baby’s body to test. Typically I ask patients to bring in egg (separate the white and yolk), dairy (cow, goat if you eat it), nightshades (tomato, pepper, potato, mango) and cruciferous (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage) families. We already have all the grains, beans, allium (garlic) and soy we need for testing.
Which foods are a concern?
There are a number of different foods that are a concern, here’s just a short list of things that we have found sensitivities to:
- Tomatoes (Nightshades)
- Coconut (Drupes)
- And more…
While this isn’t the complete list, you can see how many different types of foods don’t agree with our bodies.
Is my child allergic?
There is a big difference between a “sensitivity” and an “allergy.” We call these food sensitivities because many children that consume them through breastmilk or on their own experience inflammation as a result. The body tries to purge the inflammation through one of our areas of susceptibility: the bowel, the bladder (night-time wetting or frequent urination), the skin (eczema, sweating at night, baby acne, “sleep” in the eyes on waking), the respiratory system (sinus congestion, asthma, chronic bronchitis, chronic ear infections,) or through emotional releases (think of “letting off steam”).
What a person tests sensitive to may or may not be related to the symptoms of anaphalaxis: hives, swelling of the respiratory system, or hypotensive shock.A positive test for sensitivity may or may not be related to blood tests (which assess the responsiveness of two immune chemicals, IgA or IgG) or skin tests (which assess a third, IgE). The theory on this is because these two specific allergy tests are looking at a portion of the immune system, and the indicator muscle testing is checking in with the reactivity of the entire body.
Results of Food Sensitivity Testing
We typically ask patients to eliminate these foods for at least 6 months, administer an appropriate probiotic and allow the gut time to heal and seal. Consistently consuming foods that cause inflammation creates gaps in the tight junctions between the cells of the intestines, called enterocytes. These cells shrivel as they age and “funny looking” proteins leak through to the space behind the walls. Since 75% of the immune system lives right behind this tissue, the theory is this is how the body gets sensitized.
Eliminating the foods reduces the inflammation, probiotics help establish the natural turnover of the enterocytes, and the immune system is allowed an opportunity to “reboot.” These foods can, one at a time and very slowly be reintroduced, but doing so doesn’t guarantee that the child’s sensitivity will be eliminated completely. While we have better success with younger children, for many people these can be lifelong sensitivities.
I hope this has given you enough of an overview of how food sensitivity testing works and what to expect if you’re thinking of having your child or yourself tested for food sensitivities.