Skip to main content

Natural Awakenings Richmond

A Daily Regimen for Healthy Digestive and Immune Systems

Mar 03, 2014 12:48PM ● By Amy Lichonczak, BCND

Amy Lichonczak

The terms “allergies” and “food sensitivities” are often used interchangeably; yet there are differences between them. The traditional medical definition of an allergy is an immune response in which the body produces antibodies. Food sensitivities are reactions to foods that may or may not have the same immune system response, nor do they normally show up during formal allergy testing. Sensitivity reactions are often worsened as a result of the digestive system not working properly due to inflammation, overgrowth of bacteria or yeast or leaky gut issues.

The airways and intestines are the most susceptible to allergic reactions, making the nutritional impact of food sensitivies even more demanding on the digestive system. Consuming inflammatory foods can trigger both allergic and inflammatory responses. Research shows that the most inflammatory foods include cooked tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, eggplants, white potatoes, most mushrooms, dairy and peanuts. Inflammation from eating these foods increases the likelihood of malabsorption and nutritional deficiencies.

Building a healthy digestive system is the best way to handle food sensitivities, especially if the food is difficult to avoid. Recommendations include choosing organic foods whenever possible; washing fruits and vegetables properly; taking digestive enzymes with every meal, as well as a good multivitamin once per day; and taking probiotics once or twice daily. Most parents are unaware that yogurt alone is usually not enough and they should provide their children with probiotics on a daily basis. Taking probiotics after the use of antibiotics is especially important to restore healthy flora. These simple additions offer the best long-term digestive system support for any age. Probiotics, digestive enzymes and multivitamins all come in forms for children, from liquid to chewable to vegan capsules.

As soon as children complain of a tummy ache, give them a digestive enzyme. After 10 minutes, ask them how they feel; nine times out of ten, they are feeling better and nothing else is needed. Continuing this regimen will significantly improve the immune system, virtually eliminating sick days.

Amy Lichonczak is an ANMCB Board Certified Naturopathic Doctor with a private practice in the Richmond Business and Medical Park, Bremo Rd., Ste. 111, and consultations available in Charlottesville and Fredericksburg. For more information, call 804-740-4325 or visit