Hidden Food Sensitivity: A Controversial, but Interesting Concept

Can a good food be bad for you? Very often a person with chronic health problems may be doing everything right, but is not enjoying a good result because they are sensitive to a regularly eaten food. This hidden food sensitivity is often called an addictive allergy, we will use the terms interchangeably throughout this article. Take the word “allergy” with a grain of salt.The body’s response is very different from a traditional allergic response. This is a reaction where you crave the food to which you are sensitive. You crave the substance like an alcoholic craves alcohol. In fact, Dr. Theron Randolph, a noted allergist and pioneer in the field of environmental medicine, calls alcoholism the ultimate food allergy.

Randolph was one of the first, if not the first doctor, to espouse the idea of an addictive allergy (hidden food sensitivity). He did so in the face of criticism from his colleagues. One of Randolph’s books, An Alternative Approach to Allergies, covers the topic of allergies in much more depth than this short article.

Hidden food sensitivities are sometimes called “addictive allergies”. People with addictive allergies eat the food that they are addicted to every day. They usually don’t even know that they have a problem with that food. In fact, when told that they may be “allergic” to a favorite food, they are incredulous. “I can’t be allergic to that, I eat it every day.” The real tip-off to an addictive allergy is that the patient is very distressed at the idea of giving up that particular food, much the same way that an alcoholic is distressed at the idea of giving up alcohol.

People with hidden food sensitivities often suffer from a wide variety of symptoms, including fatigue, obesity, overeating, chronic sinus problems, repeated infections, hives, rashes, acne or other skin problems, digestive problems, headaches, anxiety depression, joint pain or hypoglycemia. Even gallstones may be caused by allergies. Instead of having sudden and severe symptoms, people with addictive allergies have chronic problems that they seldom associate with their allergy.

These are often patients who are just plain sick and go from doctor to doctor and receive little help. Frequently a doctor will tell them that it is all in their head. It is the ultimate medical ego trip, “If I can’t fix you, you must be a hypochondriac.” Along with all of the physical misery these patients suffer, sometimes they also begin to believe that they are crazy.

There is a link between allergies and digestive problems. One clinical study showed that children with giardiasis (an amebic parasite) produced more allergic antigens than children who were not infected with the parasite. Leaky gut, which can cause allergies by allowing foreign material into the bloodstream, can be caused by parasites.

Allergic reactions can also cause leaky gut. It’s a chicken-and-egg situation. Which came first, the allergy or the digestive problem? Both problems need to be addressed. You need to know what your allergens are, and you need to address any digestive problems that are present.

The concept of addictive allergy is still not widely accepted. Many allergists only believe in immediate allergic reactions. However, when an addictive allergy is identified, and that substance is avoided, the patient often improves dramatically.

Some of the more common foods Americans are allergic to include the following: corn, dairy, wheat, yeast, eggs, citrus, nightshade vegetables (tomato, pepper, potato and eggplant), coffee, chocolate and soy. Finding foods that you have addictive allergies to may be tricky.

The lab tests for allergies are far from perfect. They may be as much as 80% inaccurate. Blood tests for allergies are available. The RAST test, which is an acronym for radioallerosorbent test, is a one where the blood is exposed to an allergen and the immune response is noted. There are inaccuracies with RAST testing, and it also does not indicate the severity of the allergic response. This is a standard test performed by most hospital labs.

One of the most effective ways of finding allergies is to fast for four days. When you begin eating, introduce only one food each day and watch for a reaction. This approach should be taken only under a doctor’s care. You’d be surprised how severely you can react to a food that you used to eat every day and thought was harmless. Another way to accomplish this “elimination and challenge” approach is to avoid a specific food (gluten, for example) for two weeks. At the end of the two weeks, eat the food at all three meals. If there is a hidden sensitivity, you will have a pronounced negative reaction. It will be clear to the patient that the food is a problem.

One of the pioneers in the field of food allergy, Dr. Herbert Rinkel, discovered the hidden allergy phenomena quite by accident. Dr. Rinkel and his family ate eggs every day when he was in medical school. His father, a Kansas farmer, sent him a gross of eggs each week to help him hold expenses down.

Dr. Rinkel had a chronic runny nose, and had tried various changes in his diet to get rid of it. He did not consider eggs to be part of his problem because eating large numbers of eggs made no difference in his symptoms. Dr. Rinkel was at a party, and after having no eggs for five days, had a piece of cake. The cake was made with eggs and he immediately collapsed. This is exactly how people with addictive allergies react after removing a substance for several days and then reintroducing it.

Dr. Rinkel’s original attitude that the eggs were not part of his problem is the exact attitude most allergists take toward allergy, even today. Eating eggs while in the addictive state makes no changes in the symptoms; therefore, eggs are not the problem.

Another way to find hidden food sensitivities is with the Coca Pulse Test.  This method for allergy testing is not accepted by the medical profession and is deemed “unscientific”. There is some research that dates back to the 1960s, but nothing conclusive. Still, it is an interesting idea, and it is free.

Coca Pulse Test Procedure (To Find Hidden Food Sensitivity)

  1. Establish a baseline pulse by counting the pulse for a full minute before trying a particular food.
  2. Put a food in your mouth (on the tongue). It must not be swallowed. Taste it for at least one minute.
  3. Retake the pulse while the food remains in your mouth. Take the pulse for a full minute. A change of four or more is considered a sensitive reaction. The greater the degree of allergenicity, the higher the pulse will be.
  4. Spit out the tested ingredient (do not swallow it) and rinse your mouth with water; retake the pulse. When it returns to baseline, another food can be tested. This test may not be valid if you are taking a drug that controls the heart rate, such as a calcium channel blocker or a beta-blocker.

There are several rules for accurate pulse testing:

  • Because accuracy is important, the pulse must be measured for one full minute.
  • If the pulse count when standing is greater than that when sitting, it is a positive indication of food or environmental sensitivity.
  • If the pulse count is measured at least 14 times each day, and if the daily maximal pulse rate is constant (within one or two beats) for three days in succession, it indicates that all food sensitivities have been avoided on those days.
  • If the ingestion of a frequently eaten food causes no acceleration of the pulse rate (at least six beats above your estimated normal maximum) that food can be tentatively considered nonsensitive.
  • The pulse reaction to an inhaled allergen (particularly dust mites) is more likely to be of shorter duration than a reaction to a major food allergen.
  • Pulse rates that are not more than six beats above the estimated normal daily maximum should not be blamed on a recently eaten food but on an inhalant or recurrent reaction.
  • If the lowest pulse rate does not regularly occur before rising, after the night’s rest, but at some other time in the day, it usually indicates sensitivity to dust, dust mites or something in the sleeping environment.

Treatment for allergies includes inoculating small amounts of the antigen (substance that causes the allergy) into the body, or placing a dilute solution of the offending agent under the tongue. Simple avoidance is one approach; you find out what you are allergic to and avoid it. Avoidance becomes difficult if you are allergic to a great many things. Another approach to food allergies is to avoid the substances to which you are allergic and follow the rotary diversified diet, also called the rotation diet. The rotation diet is recommended because eating the same foods over and over again can create new allergies. Sometimes the food can be reintroduced into the diet after a six-week avoidance period. Sometimes patients have so many allergies that total avoidance is impossible. These patients need to follow the rotary diet and avoid the substances to which they react the most.

If you have not identified your hidden food sensitivities, you can still go on the rotation diet. In fact, it is a way to help your allergies without doing anything that may cause you harm.

During the rotation diet, you may begin to discover which foods upset you. You may become fatigued or feel bloated after a meal containing allergens. You may really miss the allergic food on the three days that you don’t eat it. Your pulse may speed up after eating a food that you are allergic to.

Here is a sample of the rotary diversified diet. There is a bigger selection of foods available. This is just a sample to give you an idea how the diet works.


Day Breakfast Lunch Dinner
1 Oatmeal Avocado, tuna Turkey, green beans
2 Melon Pork, cabbage Halibut, carrots
3 Eggs (omelet with spinach, onion) Lentils Salmon, spinach
4 Quinoa Swordfish, asparagus Beef, asparagus


You can make the diet more alkaline by ensuring that the volume of fruit and vegetable is greater that that of meat or grain. Also avoid meat/grain combinations and fruit/grain combinations.

In the rotary diet, no food can be eaten more than every four days. Foods in the same family cannot be eaten more than every two days. Onion and asparagus are both in the lily family. If you have onion on Monday, you can’t have asparagus on Tuesday.

Combination foods are a problem. Mayonnaise, for example, has dairy, eggs, yeast, soy and apple (from cider vinegar). You could not have beef, chicken, strawberries, beans or mushrooms the day after you had mayonnaise. Strawberries are related to apples; beans are related to soy; mushrooms are related to yeast (which is used to ferment the vinegar); chicken is related to egg; and beef is related to dairy.

A partial list of food families is shown below. This is just to give you an idea of some of the relationships. The list is derived from the one in Theron Randolph’s book An Alternative Approach to Allergies. The list in Randolph’s book was originally printed in “Coping With Your Allergies” by Natalie Golos and Frances Golos Golbitz. These sources will give you a complete listing of the foods and their families.

Fungi: Yeasts and molds, citric acid (a yeast by-product), mushrooms.

Grass: Barley, corn, rice, oat, sugar cane, wheat.

Lily: Aloe, asparagus, chives, garlic, leek, onion.

Goosefoot: Beet, chard, spinach, sugar beet.

Laurel: Avocado, bay leaf, cinnamon, sassafras.

Mustard: Broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens, mustard seed, radish, rutabaga, turnip, watercress.

Rose: Apple, pear, quince, rosehips, almond, apricot, cherry, peach, nectarine, plum, most berries (but not cranberries or blueberries).

Legume: Alfalfa, fava beans, lima beans, mung beans, navy beans, string beans, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, carob, lentil, pea, peanut, soybean.

Carrot: Carrot, anise, caraway, celery, coriander, cumin, dill, fennel, parsley, parsnip.

Mint: Basil, marjoram, oregano, peppermint, rosemary, sage, spearmint, thyme.

Potato: Eggplant, bell peppers, chili peppers, cayenne, paprika, potato, tomato, tobacco.

Composite: Chicory, dandelion, endive, escarole, globe artichoke, Jerusalem artichoke, lettuce, Romaine, safflower oil, sunflower, tarragon.

Gourd: Melons, cucumber, squashes, zucchini.

Bovine: Beef, dairy, buffalo, goat, sheep.

The rotation diet is only one approach to food allergies. People suffering from allergies are not necessarily doomed to a life of avoidance. Since nutritional deficiency contributes to allergies, proper nutritional supplementation can help you to tolerate the things to which you are sensitive.

There are many well-documented cases of people who have been exposed to chemicals and developed many sensitivities. Physicians using natural health care are well aware of the fact that these patients respond to vitamin therapy. Vitamin C can reduce histamine levels. Trace minerals can support the liver in its effort to get rid of toxins. Supporting the adrenal gland and improving digestion are also useful strategies for bringing allergies under control. Companies like Biotics Research have developed special products to support the immune system and help bring allergies under control. General supplementation is good, but it is best to have a trained professional help you decide which supplementation is best for you.

Finding and avoiding allergic foods is still a good strategy, even if you are working on the digestion, liver or adrenal gland to completely fix the problem. Short-term allergen avoidance will help to reduce stress on the body and enhance healing.

In his book, Brain Allergies: The Psychonutrient Connection Including Brain Allergies Today, Dr. William Philpott has some case histories of patients with mental problems who, by removing food allergens from their diet, experienced great improvement in their psychological symptoms. Many of the patients could tolerate their allergic foods after vitamin supplementation.

Chiropractic and other hands-on therapies are also helpful to allergy sufferers. Improving the function of the nervous system has a direct effect on the immune system. Many patients notice that their allergies improve after beginning treatment. Many chiropractors have patients whose allergies improved simply from chiropractic adjustments. It is not uncommon for a chiropractor to have a patient’s allergies improve, even when they are being treated for neck pain or some other seemingly unrelated complaint.