Food Intolerances and Diet
Children and adults with NIDS have overly reactive immune systems. Food allergens, a huge concern, can trigger both immediate and delayed allergic reactions. A critical first step in therapy should be to remove foods or supplements that may trigger reactions, which then would overstimulate the immune system, prompting it to attack the body more instead of protect it.
Problems with Allergy Testing
Unfortunately, there is no absolute test that is truly accurate in diagnosing the type of allergic food reactions that NIDS patients experience. Physicians often presume allergies are not an issue, or they make poor clinical choices without realizing the problems inherent in all food testing. Eliminating suspect foods in the diet and then slowly reintroducing them is very time consuming, but it’s the only tried and true method that can prove reactivity.
Eliminating the Negatives
For now, the healthiest way to build up a child’s immune system is to “remove the negatives.” Avoiding the most common and widespread allergens is a good first step.
• The bovine protein* in milk is the #1 allergen in the world, so that is the first food to remove.
*It is now well known that bovine protein (unlike most allergens) can
act as a super-antigen and, like a flu virus, cause the immune system to erroneously attack the pancreas, which could result in diabetes.
• The second most common allergy worldwide is to the proteins in wheat and grains. The removal of only grains containing gluten is not adequate, because substitute grains also can be very reactive. Highly processed grain products, where the protein has been broken down by certain processing methods (such as very high temperatures), are often less reactive than gluten-free products. All grains have some risk, depending on the person.
• The least reactive “carbs” usually are potato products. If kids are old enough, potato chips are a safer snack choice than those with grains, such as pretzels.
• Nuts are the third most common allergen and should be avoided. They are highly allergenic, can become rancid quickly, and may carry trace toxins. Additionally, most contain arginine, which feeds herpes viruses.
• The fourth most common allergen is citrus. Clinical experience, along with a suggestive indication on testing, will often guide a decision about the need to eliminate citrus fruits.
• Additional removal of foods due to intolerance depends on the child’s reactions to a food. Sometimes a food screen can be used as a guide, but it is never an absolute indicator of a positive or negative reaction.
Other Dietary Recommendations
Closely monitoring the child’s diet is an important component of NIDS treatment. Whether at home or at school, the child should avoid reactive foods, reduce carbohydrates, and limit the intake of sugar. Here are some recommendations:
• Limit the amount of “carbs” in the diet.
• Choose potatoes over grain-based carbs.
• Avoid sugar.
• Limit approved fruits to two servings per day to minimize excess sugar intake.
• Consume high quality protein, such as fish, chicken, and lean beef.
• Serve plenty of vegetables.
A basic multiple vitamin is recommended. If a deficiency is evident, an iron supplement may be added as well. Complex natural vitamins are risky and can contain contaminants or other ingredients that may be reactive. There is an inherent danger to both children and adults who consume large doses of any vitamin. Commonly referred to as mega-dosing, this practice is not recommended. Deficiencies should be replaced with appropriate pediatric dosages—never mega-doses.
If Omega supplementation is appropriate, it must be a physiologic balance of Omega 3 and 6 at minimum, via a “clean” pure pharmaceutical-grade product.
Clean Diet = Less Immune Stress
Dietary changes alone will not cure your child, because NIDS is neither a metabolic disorder, nor started by a metabolic or vitamin deficiency. Rather, a “clean” diet and appropriate nutrition are a critical part of reducing stress on a NIDS patient’s highly reactive immune system.