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Food Inflammation and restrictive days: the immunological reasons for a rotation diet
Today we know the scientific basis for rotation diets. By measuring BAFF levels, we've understood why it is so important to follow the diet correctly, in order to regain a friendly relationship with food.

For years, rotation diets have been the therapeutic tool to support anyone who has reactions towards food. They have been very useful to regain the immunological acceptance so that the person can resume eating in a varied and healthy way.

Recently, even serious mediated IgE reactions (those when patients present anaphylactic shocks) have been immunologically cured. This has been the case for peanut, egg and milk allergic patients that are now able to eat small portions of those foods that cause them the reaction. So it is always possible to guide the resumption of food, specially if it is causing an inflammatory response.

It often happens that when identifying a personal food profile connected to a repeatedly or excessive consume of a Great Food Cluster – for example Milk and dairy products – in the initial phase of the rotation diet there are still minimal gaps that can slow down the benefits of the new nutritional setting.

The most strict scheme of the rotation diet allows 7 free meals, out of 21 in a week. It is therefore not so difficult, nor impossible to manage and follow the diet. However the regime calls for a special attention on the diet days, where a complete abstention of the identified foods is required.

A typical example of “cheating” would be when a person has certainly reduced the amount of milk, cheese, yoghurt (as in the previous example), but continues to add a few drops of milk to the coffee (can’t live without it…), eats a cookie after dinner (that obviously contains milk) and doesn’t give up to add some cheese to the pasta (just a little bit of course…).

There are no restrictions on the free days, and generally after 3-4 weeks of a precise diet, the number or free meals increases to 10-11 out of 21 (i.e. half a week). So you can say anything, but this diet is really very easy to follow.

The key point is to truly stick to it during the diet days. After a few months of diet, the natural relationship with food is regained. At this moment there are no more “cheatings”, cause the precision in the diet is mainly needed at the beginning of the journey.

But why can these little tricks be so harmful? and why the integral clearing is so important, even for those few hours of cleanse? The answer is in the levels of BAFF and its relationship with the Immunoglobulins G (IgG).

A scientific group in North Carolina, from the Duke University in Durham and the NC University in Chapel Hill, published an article in the Journal of Immunology in January 2016, where they reported the fact that BAFF and B cells produce antibodies (Kang S et al, J Immunol, 2016 Jan 1, 196 (1): 196-206, doi: 10.4049 / jimmunol.1402527, Epub 2015 Nov 30).

In their work, the US researchers specified that the IgG (those used to “identify” food) are hooked to food antigens (molecular parts of food that have passed through the intestinal mucosa) and form an immuno-complex, ie a structure in which numerous IgG antibodies wrap a small piece of food.

These immuno-complexes then bring B cells (the lymphocytes that produce food-specific antibodies) closer together and, ONLY in the presence of a high level of BAFF, stimulate the production of other antibodies for that specific food.

So those few hours of a “true abstinence” from milk, cheese, sweets and yogurt (again referring to the previous example) allow BAFF levels to lower, and stop B cells to produce new antibodies for the milk related substance.

In this way the antibodies already present are exhausted too and the immuno-complexes can no longer stimulate the formation of new antibodies, both because there are fewer and because BAFF no longer stimulates the cells to produce them.

Thus, within a few weeks, the signal towards a food group is reduced until it disappears and the immunological tolerance reappears.

In the opposite case, where the person cheated on the diet days, eating even small amounts of milk in desserts, a teaspoon of yoghurt, few drops of milk in the coffee, etc, BAFF will still be produced. Despite the reduction of milk antibodies (because in fact the person is reducing the quantities), the milk IgG immune complexes will still bring B cells together since BAFF levels are increasing too. The complete system will stimulate the production of milk antibodies maintaining a continuous inflammatory condition.

Kang’s work is extremely important since it provides the scientific and methodical grounds for the institution of a rotation diet. It sustains new knowledge bases of the interaction between nutrition and the immune system; a current research field that needs to be further explored.

For all those who are in the process of regaining their well-being through a new relationship with food, this type of study helps to strengthen the perception of one’s ability to heal and to go back to eating everything with joy.