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Everything In Moderation Is Not Always Okay

I commonly get asked by people with thyroid and autoimmune thyroid conditions if it’s okay to eat certain foods.  I’ll get asked “Is it okay to eat a little bit of gluten?”, or “Can I drink some coffee?”, or “Can I have a small amount dairy?”  I definitely agree that for many people, consuming certain things in moderation is fine.  And I frequently state how I don’t expect people to live a perfect lifestyle, eat a perfect diet, etc.

However, this doesn’t mean that everything in moderation is fine.  When it comes to eating certain foods or consuming different ingredients, one can’t just assume that a small amount of a certain food or ingredient won’t have a negative impact on your health.  For example, I will have people who are gluten sensitive tell me that they eat 95% gluten-free.  Now let’s remember that I’m not a gluten extremist, and so I don’t believe that everyone with a thyroid or autoimmune thyroid condition needs to avoid gluten for the rest of their life.  And I don’t believe that every single person who tests positive for a gluten sensitivity problem will need to avoid gluten on a permanent basis either, although for some people this definitely will be the case.  On the other hand, if someone is gluten sensitive, then they really do need to avoid gluten for at least three to six months, and possibly even longer than this.  And the same is true with any food they might be allergic to.

Why is this the case?  It all comes down to inflammation.  When someone is sensitive to gluten, or any allergen, they really want to eliminate this allergen for a number of months to help get rid of the inflammation.  And just introducing a small amount of this food can cause the inflammatory process to continue.  I know for many people it’s extremely difficult to be 100% gluten free, or 100% dairy free, but sometimes this is necessary for those looking to restore their health back to normal.

Is Eliminating These Allergens For 4 To 6 Weeks Sufficient?

In some of my articles and blog posts I discuss how I recommend for people to go on a gluten free trial for at least four to six weeks.  This might sound like I’m contradicting myself, since here I’m telling people to avoid gluten for at least three to six months.  Keep in mind that when I tell people to go on a gluten free trial, this is to help determine if they have a gluten sensitivity problem.  So I would recommend for people who don’t know whether they are gluten sensitive to avoid gluten for at least four to six weeks, and then see how they feel.  If they feel significantly better then I would recommend avoiding gluten for at least three to six months.  If they don’t feel better after four to six weeks I would then have them reintroduce gluten into their diet, and if they have a negative reaction would then have them avoid gluten for at least three to six months.  Some people will need to avoid these foods for more than six months in order to stop the inflammation and completely heal the gut.

The same concept could apply to other allergens as well, such as dairy.  It’s important to understand that people won’t always experience symptoms when consuming these allergens.  While most people do notice a difference when avoiding these allergens (or after reintroducing them), some don’t.  In any case, the point I’m trying to make is that when someone has a food allergy, eating the food they are allergic to in moderation probably isn’t a good idea.  Some people don’t have permanent food allergies and can eventually eat those foods again once the inflammation is gone and their digestive system is healthy again, although this isn’t the case with everyone.

Isn’t it a good idea to test for food allergies?  This definitely is an option, although it is common to get false negatives with such testing.  As a result you do need to be careful about completely relying on food allergy testing.  Cyrex labs is one of the newer labs that seems to have more accurate testing, especially for gluten.  But such testing is expensive, and so for some people the best option is to eliminate gluten and other common allergens to see if this will have any positive effects on their health.

Can One Consume Caffeine In Moderation?

Okay, now that we’ve gotten food allergies out of the way, how about caffeine?  I’ve discussed this in the past, but I will briefly mention it again since many people love drinking coffee and tea.  Can someone drink coffee or tea in moderation?  Once again, this depends on the individual.  Some people can drink one or two cups of coffee or tea each day without a problem.  Other people need to avoid caffeine completely.  If someone has problems with their adrenal glands I think it’s best for them to avoid caffeine completely…at least until their adrenal health has been restored.  I know some other natural healthcare professionals would disagree with me, but this is just my opinion.

This doesn’t mean that everyone will listen to my advice, as some of my patients who I advise to give up coffee will continue drinking some in moderation.  While some of these patients seem to do fine when following a natural treatment protocol, others don’t do as well due to the caffeine intake.  And this is the problem, as it’s difficult to predict who will do fine while continuing with the caffeine, and who won’t do well, which is why if someone has compromised adrenals I’ll usually recommend for them to avoid the caffeine completely.  But even if someone doesn’t have compromised adrenals it’s a good idea to minimize their caffeine intake.

In summary, there are times when certain allergens and ingredients need to completely eliminated from one’s diet.  And so one can’t just assume that everything consumed in moderation is fine.  While many people can eat some “bad” foods and ingredients every now and then, some people need to avoid these 100% in order to restore their health.