Leo Galland, MD, a board-certified internist, is recognized as a world leader in integrated medicine. Educated at Harvard University and NYU (New York University) School of Medicine, he won the Linus Pauling Award for his trailblazing vision that created a new way to practice medicine for thousands of doctors. Dr. Galland has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Self and Men’s Fitness and has appeared on the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, the Dr. Oz Show, PBS, CNN and Fox. He is the author of The Fat Resistance Diet, Power Healing, and Superimmunity for Kids and is the director of the Foundation for Integrated Medicine.
Jonathan Galland, JD, a leader in integrated health education, is a health writer for the Huffington Post and MindBodyGreen. He holds a degree in law, which supports his research and presentation of the environmental health aspects for The Allergy Solution, expanding the book to include a strong environmental message. To help educate the public on the impact of allergies in their lives, Galland co-wrote the script for the upcoming public TV special on The Allergy Solution.
Q: What is the allergy epidemic?
A: It’s a hidden epidemic that’s sweeping the world.
You may not think of yourself as allergic. Your nose may not run, and your skin doesn’t itch. But you have common complaints that just won’t go away.
Do you suffer from:
- Weight gain?
- Depression or anxiety?
- Brain fog?
A hidden allergy is often the culprit. Chronic conditions that were previously diagnosed as autoimmune diseases, psychiatric disorders, or many others, wind up being allergic in origin.
Our search for answers to common mystery conditions, and the source of the allergy epidemic inspired us to write our new book, The Allergy Solution: Unlock the Surprising, Hidden Truth about Why You Are Sick and How to Get Well.
We reveal the proven role of allergy in causing weight gain, fatigue, headache, joint and muscle pain, a range of digestive symptoms from heartburn to diarrhea, mood problems, poor mental focus and more. A step-by-step method for determining if you have hidden allergies is provided. And if you suffer from classic allergies like rhinitis, eczema or have asthma, our program addresses these issues from a nutritional and lifestyle perspective.
Q: Why are we seeing an epidemic of allergy disorders today?
A: Allergic disorders have increased dramatically over the past few decades. Allergies were once rare. Today they affect over a billion people. Environmental toxicity, depletion of beneficial intestinal bacteria and fast food all contribute to allergies. Environmental toxins damage your body’s surfaces, like the respiratory or intestinal lining or the skin. The damaged lining tissue becomes a site where allergy develops. Good nutrition can stop the cycle from snowballing.
Allergic diseases were once rare—quirky reactions that only a few people would get. Today, allergic disorders are among the most common medical conditions in the world. Do you have any idea how many people have allergies? More than one billion. While just 50 years ago one person in 30 had allergies, today that number is one in three and rising.
Q: What is causing this epidemic to occur?
A: Poor nutrition and environmental toxins create vicious cycles that drive the allergy epidemic. Toxins damage a surface of the body—the respiratory lining or the skin or the intestinal lining. The damaged lining tissue becomes a site where allergy develops. Research shows that nutrition can help stop the cycle from snowballing.
Examples include automotive and industrial emissions that damage the lining of our respiratory tracts and increase the inflammation we experience when exposed to pollen. These pollutants also make allergenic plants produce more pollen, and it’s a pollen that is more allergenic than normal pollen.
A new chemical comes out of a laboratory somewhere in the world every 2.6 seconds. That’s about a million a year. Over 100,000 of these have made their way into our homes, hidden in cleaning solutions, personal care products, clothing, and furnishings.
Spray cleaners, air fresheners, fragrances, and formaldehyde, are proven to increase the risk of developing allergies and asthma. The Allergy Solution contains a program for freeing your home from these toxins. We call it Mission Detoxable.
Q: Can you explain the “Four Game-changing Truths” about allergies?
A: The first hidden truth is simple, but surprising: Fast food causes allergies. In fact, it only takes three fast food meals a week for this effect to be seen. The International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Children—the ISAAC study–found that the more you eat fast food, the greater the likelihood you’ll develop allergies. What is it in fast food that makes you allergic? It’s the unhealthy fats and sugar, and also it’s what you don’t get when you eat fast food: the nutrients your body needs to balance immune function.
The second hidden truth is this: Allergies like disguises. They often masquerade as conditions you never thought of as allergic, such as headaches, weight you can’t lose and much more.
Our world is full of unseen allergic triggers, too. That discovery leads to my third hidden truth: The triggers for allergy often hide in plain sight, such as mold, toxins in the home or dust mites.
We’ve found a common thread that runs through many of my patients’ cases; it leads to a place where the key to health is hidden within each of us, our digestive system: the gut.
That discovery led to the fourth hidden truth: allergies start in our gut. The bacteria living in our digestive tract have a huge impact on our immunity, because two-thirds of our immune system is located in the intestines. These immune cells are controlled by the microbes in our gut.
There’s one thing all the research makes clear: our immune system needs a diversity of good bacteria. In that way, it’s just like a rainforest. Biodiversity is a sign of health and we now know that loss of diversity of gut microbes causes allergy.
Q: What is the “Three-day Power Wash”?
A: We think of it as hitting the reset button on your computer. For three days, you eat only a nourishing soup, a tasty smoothie and a soothing tea. The foods in the Power Wash include vegetables, fruits and seeds that supercharge your cells with nutrients that satisfy your hunger. They’ve been chosen because they support the function of a critical part of your immune system: regulatory T-lymphocytes. We call them T-regs. Their role is to turn off the unwanted immune reactions that create allergies. If you have allergies, you suffer from defective function of T-regs.
Our program is designed to provide nutritional support for T-regs, which comes from natural folates found in leafy greens; carotenoids found in orange and yellow vegetables; and the bioflavonoids found in parsley, strawberries and oolong tea. We also present research on the protective capacity of broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables.
Q: What is the connection between allergies and weight gain?
A: Clinical research has shown a strong link between allergies and weight gain. If your patients have allergies, they are more likely to become overweight than if they don’t. If they’re already overweight, they’re more likely to develop allergies. Laboratory studies from many centers, including Harvard Medical School, show that allergic reactions can actually make fat cells grow larger—as fat cells expand, they unleash stronger allergic reactions.
Q: How does nutrition impact allergies?
A: Research shows that people with allergies often suffer from nutritional deficiencies and may need nutritional enrichment of protective factors like selenium, magnesium, vitamins C and D and omega-3 fats. In The Allergy Solution we provide a nutritional approach to overcoming allergy through food and supplements.
Q: How important is glutathione to the body? Why?
A: Glutathione helps to protect your T regulatory cells (or T-regs) from damage; a lack of it makes T-regs susceptible to destruction brought on by environmental and food toxins, which is one factor contributing to the epidemic of allergy.
Q: What’s the role of the gut in creating or defending against allergy?
A: Two-thirds of your immune system is located in your intestinal tract. The gut is like a boot camp for training your immune cells. The drill sergeants are the bacteria living in your intestines. Biodiversity of these bacteria is essential for immune health and protects against allergy.
Antibiotics, pesticides, herbicides, disinfectants and the modern diet all destroy this diversity and contribute to the allergy epidemic. Our book contains a program for overcoming allergies by healing your gut. It’s called ARC, for Avoidance, Reflorastation and Cultivation.
Q: What steps can practitioners take to help their patients relieve their symptoms?
A: Make sure to address and account for the three levels of environment and their impacts on your patients’ allergies and overall health: the outdoor environment; the indoor environment (in their home and at work); and the internal environment, their gut and skin, where part of their hundred trillion bacteria could be out of balance.
If you follow the steps outlined in The Allergy Solution, not only will you be better equipped to uncover the hidden allergies that are likely impacting your patients’ health but better armed to decrease their toxic exposures, eliminate many of the toxins they have accumulated, improve their diet and lifestyle regimens, and put them on a path to optimum health.