Did you know 95 percent of us have food sensitivities? Chances are YOU are in that 95%, and if that’s the case you need to be dealing with it. Good thing you’re listening to this episode! Imagine if there was just one food causing a toxic, inflammatory effect in your body, wouldn’t you want to know the culprit? Hi I’m your host, Stephan Spencer, and the expert who is going to show us the way, in this episode #104, is Jeffrey Zavik. Jeffrey is the founder of Immuno Laboratories and the author of Toxic Food Syndrome. Since 1978, Immuno Labs has served 350,000 patients and run over 38 million food sensitivity tests. Jeffrey, it’s great to have you on the show.
It’s my pleasure. Thank you.
Let’s talk about food sensitivities and allergies and what people are taking into their bodies, as far as nutrition – may not be all that good for them. Let’s first distinguish food sensitivities vs. allergies because I think people use those two terms interchangeably.
You are absolutely correct. It’s sort of confusing because in a sense, the true meaning of allergy has always been limited to the things, I think, most people know, like reacting to shellfish, or someone that eats peanuts or drinking wine and getting migraine headache – those kinds of allergies are bee stings. Those kinds of allergies are the true allergy, but you see they only affect less than 10% of the population. Many of those people know what they are sensitive or, let’s say, allergic to. But interchangeably, often – the word Kleenex is not really – it’s a brand. It’s not really the product. It’s just like that. Tissues are really what we’re asking for, when we say, “Hand me a Kleenex.” The word “allergy” and “sensitivity” all gets kind of muddled up, but sensitivity has to do with a more delayed type of reaction to something that someone primarily has eaten, and it could come anywhere from a few hours to even a day or two later, whereas the true sense of allergy is that these allergic reactions occur rather quickly. They can actually be life-threatening and result in something like anaphylaxic shock and going to the emergency room, and even in some rare cases, death.
Wow. A food sensitivity is something that many of us, maybe even all of us have, we just don’t know it. But the allergy or the allergic response is our immune system letting us know that, “Hey, there’s something toxic” that is gonna put us into some sort of shock-type of situation.
Right. Much more immediate, and you kinda know like, “Oh my god. I just did something, and it just caused that reaction.” Of course, if you ever got a bee sting, you know what that’s like. But the people who can’t eat shellfish know what we’re talking about. The people that can’t eat some of these other common things such as peanuts, know what we’re talking about. The sensitivities are a lot more far reaching and less widely recognized.
Let’s talk about those. How far-reaching are they? Would our typical listener have food sensitivities? Is it pretty common or is it rare, and is it likely that somebody who’s listening has many different food sensitivities, not just one or two?
Great questions. I wrote a book a few years back called Toxic Food Syndrome. We actually coined that term because of how widespread it is, and the subtitle to it is “95 out of 100 people are poisoning themselves and don’t even know it. Are you one of them?” Our experience is that anybody that’s having chronic, nagging symptoms is highly likely to be having one or more food sensitivities. In many cases, many of them, but sometimes it can be just as simple as a single food that is really making all the difference. In fact, what we like to share with people is that the right food makes all the difference. The question becomes, “What’s the right food for my particular body?”
What happens if you’re taking in the wrong foods? What are some of the symptoms that you might get? Joint pain or abdominal pain? How does it show up?
For example, food sensitivities will show – they could cause just about anything, but they don’t cause everything. You can find any kind of a chronic, nagging pain. It could be headaches. It could be digestive pain. It could be joint pain, fatigue (in terms of chronic fatigue) – those are very common. Very commonly, skin problems that are very nagging and annoying. When you think about how many people have it. For example, 50 million people have irritable bowel syndrome in this country. That’s a huge number of people that basically have some kind of digestive upset, and definitely food sensitivities can cause or aggravate that condition.
Yeah. What about leaky gut?
Well, it’s interesting because one of your previous interviews with Dr. Blum – she made a really good point which is oftentimes, those people who do have a lot of food sensitivities – now, not everyone has dozens of them, but there are people that do. The single biggest indicator to these innovative physicians that are doing this kind of work is that when they see someone that has a lot of food sensitivities, they immediately determine it’s likely to be a leaky gut, meaning that food has not processed properly through the digestive system, larger particles have gotten into the system, and the body is now identifying them as foreign. Then what happens is there’s an immune reaction, which is the body treats that food particle as if it were a foreign invader, and the antibodies go to work. There’s this reaction – cascade immune reaction that takes place, which is the kind of thing we’re basically measuring.
Okay. How do you measure it? Are you doing a blood test? You’re doing one of those prick tests? What are the different types of tests and the pluses and minuses of each one?
Well, there is basically several kinds of tests. First of all, the area mainly in allergy started out with all the scratch and patch testing, and many people have gone through that because their doctors probably thought they had some kind of traditional allergy and scratched the back of their skin or their forearm or put something underneath their tongue. There’s all these provocative type tests, where they actually provoke the human body with something to see if they react. Those have been kind of put to the side as not being so accurate when it comes to food sensitivities, but they can be pretty good for some of the allergies that people are looking for. Then you have a test that’s called a RAST – now I’m gonna switch to the blood type tests that are done on one’s blood or one’s serum. There’s a couple of different categories there. You’ve got the RAST type test, which is a radioallergosorbent assay. Basically, they’re looking for an antibody food reaction and measuring it with a very small amount of a radioactive isotope and essentially using a little Geiger counter to measure whether or not there was a lot of that reactivity taking place. Needless to say, having disposed of radioactive material, even though it’s very small, very minute amount – that’s going by the wayside as well. Now, there’s something called enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, ELISA. Essentially, the same kind of test that is measuring antibodies in the reaction to foods – that’s being done now using antibodies and enzymes, where the disposal of that is just a much safer, easier matter. Last but not least, some tests are done on whole blood cells. The theory is really sound – that you’re looking for a more comprehensive way to measure how food is affecting the cells. The problem is it’s been discredited as unreliable.
Okay. Is that the – the whole blood cell testing – is that similar to live blood cell testing, where you’re looking under a microscope at the live cells to see what shape they are and things like that? Or is that a separate thing?
It’s something different. Yes. The concept is the same, that as you’re looking at human blood, but these procedures for food sensitivity tests have been automated or semi-automated, whereas the live cell you’re speaking of is in a microscopic observation. It would be a very slow process to try and test 50, 100, 200, 300 items visually.
Although that was done. In fact, that’s how I started 40 years ago.
Okay. How do you test at Immunolabs? Are you doing the ELISA test and against how many different food sensitivities? What’s the process look like?
We have a variety of panels, depending on the age of the person and the interests and how expanded their diet might be and how comprehensive they want to go. It’s anywhere between about 88 and 150 to 200 different foods might be tested. It really involves just a small amount of blood that’s drawn, either at one’s home, where we send a licensed professional phlebotomist – is what they’re called – someone licensed to do that. Or they go to a laboratory or their doctor’s office. Either way, they have a small amount of blood drawn, and it’s spun down so that the blood cells are separated from the serum. In the serum are the antibodies. That’s where all the magic takes place, because it’s the antibodies that we then place in these little test wells against all these different foods that we’re measuring. Basically, we’re letting the antibodies mix with the microscopic amount of food to see which ones bind to it as they would in the body, and then we use enzymes to make a color change – and computers and scanners that basically measure quantitatively how much of reaction there might be. One of the unique aspects of the type of testing we do is we personalize the test to every single person. On your test plate is a positive and negative control, using your serum, your antibodies. That way we are certain that the test – that variations that take place are specific to you, not just the general control.
Very good. Then you have different levels measuring the degree of a food sensitivity, so like +1 or +4.
Let’s talk about that.
Yes. Actually, that all developed really way back in the day with allergists, where allergists would do these skin reactions, and they would see whether the wheel that the redness that would re-occur – the reaction that would occur was small, medium, large, etc. So they started scaling that, and their treatments were based on how reactive the skin was. To play into the same mindset that physicians have, because we’re testing primarily through physicians at this point in time – because of that, they’re used to getting that kind of report. But the interesting thing we found in our experience now – almost 40 years of this – is that there’s not a direct correlation between the minor amount of reactivity or the major amount and how much of a symptom someone has, so in many instances, a +1 or a +2 might be more significant than a +4 in terms of the experience that you might be having with that particular food. However, the doctors do make use of that in a variety of different ways, so it’s more of a clinician-based information. From our viewpoint, we like to say, “Either you’re reactive or you’re not reactive. Either it’s safe to eat or it’s questionable.”
If you are reactive, do you cut it out of your diet completely, or do you test to see what the impact is on how you feel?
Initially, we recommend abstaining from the food as thoroughly and as completely as possible, to really give the body and the immune system a chance to heal and rebalance and restore itself, and then slowly reintroduce the foods because in many instances, over a period of time, not every food is going to stay reactive. It will have a lot to do with other modalities that might be used. You talked about leaky gut. The doctors who work on healing that leaky gut will find that once the digestive system has been enhanced and improved, then people will be able to eat many of the foods again. So it’s a process of elimination initially and then reintroduction over time.
Right. I think there’s a name for that, right? Elimination diet or something, where you cut everything out that has potential to not be good for you, and then you slowly add these things back in. I know, for example, nightshade foods can be a problem for some people. I didn’t even know what nightshade foods were, until just a year ago. How does this elimination diet work? How many weeks or months do you need to eliminate for?
Right. The distinction I want to make here is that – if a doctor says, “I wanna put you on elimination diet,” they oftentimes pinpoint some of the foods that they know to be the most reactive, which might be gluten-containing grains and dairy and soy and corn and eggs and all that, which is a nice idea, but our experience now – with over 350,000 people tested and some 38 million food tests that we’ve conducted over time – that list would not cover the majority of people that we have tested, which means that just eliminating foods because they’re known to be reactive is not necessarily a very effective way to go. On the other hand, once you know – personalized to you – which foods showed an immune response, an immune reaction, a toxic inflammatory effect on your body, eliminate them thoroughly. Then when you reintroduce those, about a ninth – we recommend highly a 90-day period of abstaining from the foods, and then beginning to reintroduce them.
Okay, so you’re eliminating all of – you get a little card, that you put in your wallet. These are all the things that you have reactivity to you and to your antibodies.
+1, +2, +3, +4. You eliminate all of them, and then go (let’s say) 90 days. Then one at a time, you’ll introduce one of these things in and give it 90 days to see how you…
No, no, no. Just a few days, and you’ll see whether or not you’re having a reaction to it.
The great thing about our particular program is we have people on staff that will help guide you through that, so either it’s a doctor you’re working with, who has a system for doing it, or our staff will be very helpful in helping a person make those transitions. In the interim, by the way, one of the biggest challenges and biggest opportunities is to find out what foods to explore as substitutes for the ones that you’re avoiding. That’s a big opportunity to explore new foods, and we have all kinds of great help in guiding people on doing that, so it doesn’t feel like it’s some sort of an austerity move or something.
What would be an example of – let’s say that eggs are a no-go. What do you substitute?
I’m not the expert in that, but there are egg substitutes for sure. First of all, the eggs that we’re testing are chicken eggs, and so some people turn immediately to duck eggs or goose eggs and things of that nature, because they are increasingly available. But then when it comes to baking and cooking, there are some natural products that will have a substitute effect over egg – in place of egg.
Okay. Got it. Yeah.
Of course, when it comes to something like wheat, there’s so many different grains that might be substituted, and that’s the kind of thing that we help people do. You’ve probably seen this. I know you’re very health-centered yourself. There’s so many different recipes now. So much of it’s free online. Our wholistic health coach gives people links to all these incredible things. Someone says, “Well, I can’t eat this. I can’t eat that. I can’t eat that. What can I do? I wanna have pizza.” She sends them a link to a fantastic recipe that might be using cauliflower as the crust and so on and so forth. Or a product that’s actually sold that one can buy and have shipped to them, that’s a substitute for what it is that they’re looking.
Got it. Okay. Cool. You said that you’ve tested 350,000 people. Were the vast majority of those people sensitive to multiple foods? I’m guessing based on the subtitle of your book, 95%, right?
Yes. What it is – first of all, we have a unique population that comes to us. Not too many vibrantly healthy people come and say, “I wanna be tested.” Although there are those athletes, who is peak performance people that are always looking for that competitive edge. For example, we test some of the UFC fighters. I’ve personally interviewed them. Really interesting, because they’re looking for any competitive edge on lasting longer or recovering faster and so on and so forth, which they did find by refining what it is that they were eating, suiting it, personalized to their particular diet, so that was fun. We’ve had other athletes and peak performance people that are just looking for that competitive edge.
That’s great. I’ve had my blood tested by three of your guys. That was awhile ago now; it’s like maybe 5 years ago. I was surprised by all the different food sensitivities that I ate on a very regular basis – different nuts and things, almonds, eggs, and things. To be honest, I hadn’t cut – I know about this. I keep it in my wallet, and I still eat the stuff. I mean, there are a couple of things that I’ve reduced consumption of, for sure, but much of that list, which probably was 20 items long – yeah, I didn’t really cut any of that stuff – maybe two or three.
Let’s drill down though. Are you someone – the little I’ve known and seeing you over the last few years, you’re a pretty healthy guy with a pretty healthy diet and lifestyle.
I am very healthy.
You’re not – you don’t have a big Why. We all know the importance of “why.” If you were competing and you were looking for a competitive edge, maybe it would have been a bigger “why.” The average person coming to us is oftentimes has already tried 5 or 10 things – even innovative physicians and functional medical doctors and specialists in Mayo clinic and all this kind of things. That’s oftentimes the people we get, and they’re kind of at their last resort or they’ve made multiple attempts, and then finally someone says to them, “Has anyone ever looked at what you’re eating and how it’s connected to how you’re feeling?” That person says, “No. Why? You think it has something to do with it?” “Yeah. You might get this test.” Then because they’re suffering so much, they give it a good chance, and they have what appears to be like a miracle. The miracle, by the way, is the human body has the natural ability to heal itself. When given an opportunity, that is to take away foods that are causing a toxic inflammatory response, the body immediately thanks you by giving you greater health, more energy, more vitality, and starts to heal the condition that was being caused or aggravated by the food someone’s eating. You have to have a “why” to be willing, otherwise it’s like, “Well, gee, these are healthy foods. I’m a healthy person. I don’t know if I wanna change or something like…” But the question I pose to people – that might have been what motivated you to do it is – if there was just one food, no matter how healthy you are and no matter what kind of diet you’re on – if there was this one food causing a toxic inflammatory response in your body, would you wanna know what it is?
Yeah. That’s the no brainer. I think. Of course, I’d wanna know.
Yes. Yes. Now you get to choose, whether you do anything about it or not, but – by the way, one of the best things that happens really is someone who is suffering in some kind of pain and indigestions and chronic GERD and these various headaches and skin problems, they go a week or two, and they’re feeling much better. They’re so happy, and then somebody – a friend, a family of theirs – “Come on, can’t you have a beer here? A little piece of pizza – it’s not gonna kill you,” and they have it. And they really get a strong reaction, having avoided it for a week or two, and then they’re real believers because then they go, “Wow! I really get the link between what I’m eating and how I’m feeling. I really experienced it.”
Right. It’s just like with any kind of scientific tests that you do, like the scientific method, where you have a hypothesis and you test one variable at a time. You don’t have multiple variables, because you don’t know which thing was the difference maker. You approach this very scientifically, and you see, “Oh yeah. I do this, and then I get this response.”
If I don’t feel good, I’m not gonna do that anymore.
That’s the story of my life because for the first 20 years, I suffered a great deal. It was at the University of Wisconsin Medicine, where I learned there was a link between what I was eating and how I was feeling. It didn’t solve everything there, but I started to get the connection. It’s been interesting because I remember one doctor, a Yale medical school graduate, big fan of what we do, and someone said to him – it’s not unusual for his fellow physician colleagues to say, “I don’t believe in food sensitivity,” and his comment was, “It’s not a theosophical question. It’s a scientific one, so you have to go about the scientific method of looking and examining and testing to see whether or not there’s validity.” By the way, we have three, University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine studies that did just that. We have three published peer-reviewed studies on irritable bowel syndrome, on migraine headaches, and on weight loss. The only thing that people did was change the food they’re eating based on our test.
Amazing. Very cool. Okay. Let’s talk a bit more about your story because I wanna know what exactly happened there at UW Madison. What was it that got you into this exploration? Was it some sort of debilitating illness that you thought might be food-related? Was it just like you felt sluggish and not energetic or what?
Well, what happened was for most of my early years, prior to the university, I had recurring and frequent bouts of ear infections, constipation, diarrhea, headaches, and nobody – no doctor ever connected the dots. They never looked at it all together and said, “Hmm, this could be something he’s eating,” instead, “Take this medication. Do this. Do that. Oh, it’ll pass. Don’t worry about it,” and so on and so forth. But when I got to the university, there were students that were experimenting with diets. They were doing at that time macrobiotic diet – was very popular. They didn’t have vegans, or at least, I never heard of the word then, but macrobiotic. There were vegetarians, and there was nothing about gluten and all that, so there was a certain amount of insight – people going, “You know, you’ll feel better if you eat this way.” Then I got exposed to meditation and yoga, and they’re all kind of tied together with a more healthy lifestyle, healthier diet. As I started to make those changes, I noticed at least there was a link. But the interesting thing is I was eating much more healthily, but I was still feeling badly at times. For example, in my case, I was combining foods very poorly, which for me was a big problem. You don’t recall this because I’m sure you weren’t on the planet at this time, but there was a very popular diet called Fit for Life.
I’ve heard of that. Yeah.
Yeah. The Diamond husband and wife had people eating nothing but fruit until noon. Well, let me tell you, that’s great for some people – cleansing and energizing, and for other people, it’s just a disaster. For me, it was a disaster. My digestion was a mess. I sit there doing it because I thought it was the healthiest thing to do. I was getting the insight, even though it was negative feedback that not everything that’s healthy is good for you. But it took a lot longer till I got to a place in the Bahamas, where I was employed to manage an alternative health or healing center that I learned about this testing idea, which at the time was with a microscope.Then I started getting a more clear connection as to: specifically certain foods that could be perfectly healthy, could be unhealthy for me.
Yeah. That started you on your journey of creating Immunolabs and all the amazing work you’ve done for all these people – 350,000.
Yes. Literally on the kitchen table of my parents’ condominium, and now we’ve served over 12,000 physicians in 14 different specialties. We’ve been in 84 different countries, 6 continents, and touched a lot of lives. It’s very rewarding. It’s really neat. I share one that – which is one of our superstars, because it’s so evident of what we’re talking about here. It just makes it so clear. We had a – his name’s baby Grant, and his parents took the pictures and gave us permission to use them, which was great. This is an 18-month-old boy, and they sent us pictures before and after. Baby Grant had a horrible case of eczema. This is an 18-month-old boy. Redness all over his hands, his arms, his face, his chest. He looked very unhappy, and he probably felt very unhappy. His poor parents probably didn’t feel any better. I mean, an 18-month-old boy that’s suffering like that. They finally get to a doctor, who sees and says, “You know what? We really should try this food sensitivity Immuno 1 Bloodprint that Immuno Laboratories does. Let’s see if that will help.” Two weeks later, it’s all healed, and I have a beautiful before and after picture. It’s just tremendously healed up. He’s smiling.
What was it that baby Grant was eating?
Broccoli. That’s why you just can’t do a random elimination diet or try to guess because you never know which food or foods it might be.
Was that like a +4 reactivity to broccoli?
That’s a good one for another conversation. I don’t recall. I just remembered it was broccoli because it was such a shocker to me. Yeah.
Because from what you were saying before, you could have a low reactivity level, like a +1, but the symptom could really rear its head in a very ugly way and be very debilitating to you.
Exactly true. I don’t know the answer to that. I’ll find it out, but I do know that that made all the difference, so that’s where we get the whole idea that the right food makes all the difference.
Yeah, and is there a particular diet that is most similar to this idea of cutting out the stuff that’s reactive? Like for example, there’s this whole movement of eating for your blood type.
That’s another great question. Your blood type, again, has certain merit, but again, I raise the same question, which is if any one of the foods was causing a toxic inflammatory effect, would you want to know? And when you do find out, you would then improve it?We could take any diet, any healthy diet, and make it much better and personalized by adding the information about the antibodies that might be reacting to any food on that particular diet. I had the pleasure of meeting with Dr. Esselstyn, and you’re familiar with him – plant-based diet, a very restrictive diet. I mean, really restrictive, if you follow it carefully. He doesn’t even eat fats and he’s a very healthy, vibrant man, so I mean, there’s something to say for it. He also dealt with advanced cardiovascular disease, but I posed the same question to him. He gave me the same answer, of course, he’d want to know if there was something, even within the plant-based diet that was causing a toxic inflammatory effect. It’s far reaching. Now, if there was one diet – if there was one general diet, I happen to love the Mediterranean diet, in terms of generally a nice balance of proteins and vegetables and so on and good whole foods. But again, within that diet, there are things that are very commonly reactive, tomato being one of them.Within the diet, there are things that are very commonly reactive, tomato being one of them. Click To Tweet
Right, which I had no idea, until I learned that…
Yeah. One of my relatives actually was like, “Yeah, I found out that I was reactive to nightshade foods,” and she found out kind of by accident. She was doing some reading about it, and now finally, she’s starting to lose weight, where she couldn’t no matter what she tried. Now, cutting out the nightshade foods has made a huge difference.
Awesome. In the nightshade family is tobacco.
Okay. I was surprised that potatoes are in the nightshade family.
Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Eggplant, potato, tomato.
Yeah, I would be very sad to cut those things out of my diet.
I hear you. By the way, if you’d like, something of – instead of just educating people, giving them something really concrete, we do actually have the 21 most inflammatory foods from our tens of thousands of tests. We took over 12,000 – I think it was 12,814 results that recently were here, and we turned it into the 21 most frequently inflammatory foods. We’ll give that. We’ll be happy to have anybody that wants that to take a look at it. It’s at the foodsignals.com.
Okay. Perfect. I’ll put that in the show notes so that people can get the link from there, but foodsignals.com.
The whole idea is that food gives off signals, and some of those signals are toxic and inflammatory. And others are very harmonious. It’s a fascinating area.
Awesome. Would gluten be one of those 21?
Some of the grains that are gluten-containing – yes.
Right, so wheat for example.
For somebody who is gluten-free because they just feel better, not because they have celiac disease. But for example, one of my daughters is gluten-free, and she just feels better. Her skin is clear when she does not have gluten. I mean, I think she should do the test to see what exactly the exact food sensitivities are, but what would you tell somebody, as far as like different workarounds? Because gluten is in everything, pretty much.
It is, and it isn’t because as soon as you start listing foods like any fruits and vegetables, gluten’s not in any of them.
It’s not in any of the proteins. When people start thinking about, “Well, it’s in everything I eat,” they mean the pasta, the breads, and so on.
Processed food, for sure.
Exactly. Very much so. Now, the alternatives are just vast. By the way, you and I have that in common. My daughter is gluten-free, gluten-sensitive, and she being a CPA (a certified public accountant) is in all kinds of different offices. Typically they sit in the office, and then the company that they’re working for brings in them food, which is typically sandwiches, which is no good for her. She’ll end up with symptoms. The gift of course of that was she’d say, “I’m gluten-sensitive, please,” and then they bring her a salad and a piece of salmon or something like that so she’s very happy eating healthier and feeling great. There are enormous alternatives, and again, our holistic nutritional coach that works with people – she gives them links of all kinds of cool different products because now there are so many different – I mean, even like someone says, “I like crunchy things or crackers or whatever.” There are crackers that are made with seeds and alternative grains that have no gluten in them, that are outstanding in terms of taste and crunchiness and so on. There’s pizza recipes that are gluten-free. there’s even places now, even some of the name brands like Domino’s – I don’t know about all of them, but some of them actually have gluten-free pizza.
Yeah. Very cool. What would be some of the most common food – what are the most inflammatory foods? Just give me a few of that 21 list.
I’m gonna give you probably the biggest surprise because no one thinks much about this, and that is brewer’s yeast and baker’s yeast. Those yeasts are – talk about being in everything. Brewer’s yeast is in so many different items. Baker’s yeast obviously in all the different breads that have risen, in cakes, muffins, and buns, and all that kind of thing. Those are really common. I already mentioned tomatoes and wheat. But let people go to it and see some of the surprises that are there, because it’s kind of interesting to see in the real world what people are really reacting to. The great thing is that one food like that can really make all the difference. It’s really amazing. On the other hand, our son who’s very active with our company – his top sensitivity was something you could experiment all you want, you’d never find. It was sesame – sesame seeds, which again, sesame oil and hummus and things like that. Very common in foods, but go figure. The doctor I mentioned that said it was not a theosophical question – for him, it was cinnamon. When he’s eating apple pie or whatever, the cinnamon would give him symptoms. It’s an interesting phenomenon that is growing in popularity, and as we get more interested in personalizing our health and really figuring out – see, there’s no two people alike. We’re all human. Yeah, we are all human, but we have different livers that function at different levels, different digestive systems. I mean, they’re the same basic structure, but how they operate and the biochemistry in them – of course, we’re learning a whole lot about the gut and all the life in the gut and so forth. Those things very tremendously – just the notion that one diet or one food would be good for everyone is really odd, in the sense that we have such unique biochemistry and such certainty about individual biochemical nature of the human body.
Yeah, very true.
Which by the way is changing. It doesn’t even – even yours and mine – they don’t stay the same throughout life, so the idea that you could just do something all the time and have it be the same, work for you – it just typically isn’t the case.
Yeah. Let’s go into that, because as you age, you might get more sensitive or you might develop an allergy. For example, I have way worse hay fever during the spring time now than I did 20 years ago, and that surprised me. I just thought, “Oh, well, I’m not gonna be sensitive to that. It never used to bother me,” and then it’s just getting worse and worse as the years go on. That happens with food, too, potentially, right?
Yes, it does. I think though that if you keep looking, and we could go into that even – maybe at another time, but there are all kinds of ways that you might be able to enhance your immune system. By so doing, perhaps then you’ll have more immune strength at the seasonal time, when these airborne factors are affecting you. Part of it’s just an immune compromise that perhaps there’s something else you’re doing or not doing that might strengthen your immune system, and then reduce those symptoms. Now I don’t know. You might have already come across it, but sometimes it’s as simple – I’ve had many people succeed with this. Just taking local honey – raw honey, and unprocessed and from the local area, and using that oftentimes is a natural treatment that will reduce symptoms.
I remember on my card, I have brewer’s yeast and baker’s yeast. I don’t drink alcohol – hardly ever, so the brewer’s yeast – that didn’t bother me. But baker’s yeast – oh! I am not cutting that out of my diet.
It’s kind of interesting because there’s a lot of – there’s so many different ways to go with this thing, and again, over time, it varies too. Because I’ve experiment – I continue to experiment with diets on myself, from vegan, vegetarian, to more like paleo and to – just a variety of things – the Mediterranean diet. I like to try them all out. Each has its own benefit to it and some detriment to it. I think that over time, you just start to – I guess, it depends on the person. In my case, I love the whole adventure. This is just one big journey, and I was obviously destined from pre-birth to be in this field because – there’s a whole different story about my birth and everything else, but I think I was destined to have indigestion and to be drawn to be in this kind of a business and help other people realize they may be suffering needlessly, just by something they’re ingesting that they weren’t aware was causing a toxic inflammatory response.
Yeah. I hear from self-help gurus – everything is a gift, and so if you haven’t found the gift. It’s just – my wife Orion likes to say, “It’s just a gift with a bow on the bottom.” You haven’t figured it out yet.
I like that. I thank you, Orion. I’ll borrow that from time to time. That’s a good one.
Gift with a bow on the bottom. True. There always seems to be – again, sometimes it’s not evident right away, but oftentimes, it eventually comes back around, especially if you pay attention or you invite that insight, that somehow there is a reason for it that served you. Of course, our mutual friend, Tony Robbins, likes to remind us, “Everything happens for you, not to you.”
Right. “Life happens for you, not to you.” I love it. Which is actually how we met – was through Tony Robbins.
That’s how I met my wife – was through Tony Robbins, too. Were you at that Date with Destiny in 2012?
Yeah. Because Boone was there, and Davis was there.
They took a great photo of us, like an hour after we had met.
From up high on the second floor or whatever.
Cool. How cool.
That was amazing. When Davis sent that to me months later, it was amazing because I knew within minutes of meeting her, that she was my soulmate – within 10 minutes.
That’s awesome. That’s beautiful.
Let’s talk about the microbiome and how that comes into play. Do you take probiotics? Is that something you recommend for everybody? Where does the microbiome fit into this whole equation?
Well, I leave that up to people that are smarter than me, doctors and so forth, who determine that. What I personally do is I vary what I do because I’m always experimenting with different things at different times, mainly just to see how they affect me. Because I’m generally, vibrantly healthy, I look for any impact because oftentimes, something that’s supposed to have a lot of value, I just haven’t noticed anything because I feel good. But intellectually, psychologically, I know that there’s great value in taking probiotics, and I mean, the one thing I do know and I do it here too is anybody that we know – any family member – it’s very rare that any of us ever have to take antibiotics for anything, but if it does occur, we know the importance of restoring the – with probiotics and friendly bacteria, so that the body restores its balance from all the impact of the antibiotics. I vary it, but we do not get – our business is very focused. The right food makes all the difference. We focus all that we can in helping people, not only pinpoint which foods are right for their particular body, but then how do you journey through that, how to navigate through the choices, some of which you’ve already mentioned. If I have to give up baker’s yeast and foods that have been made with wheat and so on and so forth, what do I do? Well, now there’s so many options, but most people don’t have them. We’re overwhelmed with information, so we help give them links to places to help them make it. Our focus stays narrow in the realm of food.
Yeah. Makes sense. Do you have any other examples, besides baby Grant, of huge transformations that have happened because of the food testing and the elimination of those foods out of their diets?
I’ll give you two. One is very specific. We just had a new fellow join our sales team. Wow. It’s so exciting, when you bring somebody new on board, and one of the things we obviously do is we offer our testing at no charge. In fact, we encourage them because we love them to experience it. This fellow had really severe GERD. This is somebody who would wake up in the middle of the night regurgitating that horrible taste in the mouth and so on and so forth. Very, very uncomfortable. Completely gone in like a week or a week-and-a-half, just by adhering to the result. That’s one very recent story. But the one I’m probably most proud of is that if we were on video, and I walked you into our library area, I have 6 three-ring binders – each one of them is 3 inches thick. In each of those binders are hundreds and hundreds of physician’s letters on their letterhead. It’s not the physician reporting about the result they got with their patient. It’s the physician reporting the result they got personally from our testing.
They went through the testing themselves.
Cut stuff out of their diet and felt amazingly better.
Yes. One of them is such a superstar. My book landed in his wife’s hands. I don’t even know how. She read it, gave it to him and said, “You really need to read this.” He read it, and she said, “You need to build your practice around this.” He said, “Well, you go get tested and see what happens.” She said, “No, you get tested and see what happens because then you can tell your patients.” He did this, and he was a university professor at the University of Hawaii – now in private practice. He had an amazing result, and by the way, he had a lot of food sensitivities – more than you, like about 35. So he really had to discipline – but he did it, and then ultimately his whole family did it. The last I talked to him, he had a 6-month waiting list.
Wow. That’s great.
Yes, it is. It’s that type of thing that keeps us going. When you hear these stories – my wife and I manage this company together. We did a blitz trip around the country a few years ago, and doctors were hugging us. I loved it when they would say to me, “You make me look good.” So I say, “What do you mean?” He said, “Well, these patients that are the most challenging-,” and many practices have very challenging patients, “they’re the ones I use this with, and we’re getting incredible results. They’re very thankful, so it makes me look good and feel good, so you help me look good.” It’s very rewarding. I love it. I love it. It motivates us to keep carrying on.
That’s great. Well, you’re motivating me to cut out those reactive foods from my diet finally.
Do a little experiment. You’re a scientist. You’ve got a scientific background.
I do. Yes. I was studying for PhD in Biochemistry, in fact, when I dropped out to start my interactive agency back in 1995 and went on a completely different journey, rather than get a PhD, post-doc, professorship – all that sort of stuff. I’m an internet marketer.
There are thousands of people that thank you for that.
Yeah, sure. If I were to cut these things out of my diet, would you recommend that I do another test first, because it’s been 5 or 6 years since I did the first test?
That would be a great idea, simply because you’ve probably made – well, you’ve had many changes in your life, where you’re living, and everything else. That would be the best idea. Then I would strongly recommend – because you found – you’re indicating, “Oh, I don’t want to give that up,” to work closely with our holistic health coach, so that she would give you these links online that would give you so many cool alternatives because I personally tested her myself, when I retested myself. I was just really delighted. For example, again, this may or may not be relevant to you, but to me it was great. I’m on the run. I’m busy and so on and so forth. Oatmeal is something I can eat, I do eat, and I love it, but the whole grain oats take about 30 minutes to cook. And you have to watch them to properly cook them for about 20-30 minutes. Let’s face it. I don’t always have the time to do that, or I don’t make the time to do that, so she gave me a recipe where I made it the night before and added various fruits and different things. Then just put it in the refrigerator with the appropriate amount of water, and it’s ready the next morning. I don’t even have to cook it. I can eat it raw. So there’s insights like that that get to be – I mean, it was super tasty. My wife enjoyed it as well. We did different variations of it. That’s the kind of tip that is really neat – or some kind of a kale chip or whatever, something that’s just really tasty to me, that all of a sudden then is supplementing when I’m saying, “Oh, I really want something crunchy,” or “I want a snack thing that I can eat.” She goes, “Here. Here’s a few.” By the way, she’s looking at my results, so she’s personalizing it to my particular result.
Yeah, it’s almost like food hacks.
Very cool. You said that you periodically retest yourself. How often do you retest? Then what do you recommend for our listeners? How often do they retest?
In the ideal world, it’s every year or so, because it takes a while for changes to occur, and one of the motivations is that – now, my son is much more disciplined, and he’s done it regularly. He literally tracks how the numbers come down. We have one client, one patient of a doctor, who’s done this multiple years. He’s down to one or two foods now. When we saw the result, not knowing who he was, we called the doctor going, “Gee, most of the time, people have something more. Is there some medication? Something happening?” “No, this guy’s gonna be ecstatic to know that he only is down to (I think it’s) 2 foods.” He’s trying to get it down to zero. In my case, I’m less disciplined, because I’m experimenting with different things, but every couple of years or so, I repeat it. Interesting. For example, I can eat honeydew melon. I can eat watermelon, perfectly fine, so long as I eat them alone. But I can’t eat cantaloupe without getting symptoms.
Wow. What kind of symptoms would you get?
Yeah, indigestion, which is primarily the way my body speaks to me. Somebody else will have symptoms – they’re all over the board. It’s amazing. One nurse, I walked in – she said to me, “I have ankles.” I said, “Yeah. Good.” Most people do – that have legs. But she said, “No, you don’t understand.” She had cankles, that is there was no ankle shape because of the swelling in her lower part of her leg. To her world, she didn’t have ankles for years. What was it? I tell you – this is crazy stuff. Bananas. Bananas made her ankles swell.
Wow. This is just so wild.
It is fascinating. I mean, it’s never-ending fascinating in terms of how the body expresses its protest to get your attention. One of the reasons you don’t wanna medicate that is the body will find another way to do it.
Yeah. Speaking of how the body changes over time, is it common that in your elder years, that you would develop irritable bowel syndrome? I had a relative – she’s now passed, who developed IBS over time, and it was debilitating. She didn’t want to get around outside of her home that much because…
How does that kind of manifest over time?
That’s where you’re going to discover the relationship with the gut health. What happens is yes, as we age, generally speaking, some of the vibrance and some of the whole vibrant activity and vibrant balance that’s in the human body starts to diminish. That’s why some of these really wise doctors and other experts have products that will help replenish and restore that. Then of course, the other thing is that a lot of people think, “Oh, I just got so sick, but it just kind of came all of a sudden.” What didn’t come all of a sudden – someone with lung cancer that’s been smoking – they didn’t get it all of a sudden. It came from all of the smoking. Same thing with eating, somebody might have been eating and not really – just having a headache, here and there, so go to over-the-counter remedy and just take some aspirin or some kind of painkiller. Maybe the pain got sometimes stronger, so they got a prescription for it. They just kind of ignored these headaches over the years, and then later on, they find out they have a tremendous digestive problem. Well, there’s no one that thinks about, “Gee, could it have been the effect of these over-the-counter and prescription medications that clearly tear up the gut or can impact the gut?” These things happen over time between the winding down of the human system to some degree and the long-term impact that something is gradually having. That’s why, as you recall, the subtitle of my book is “95 out of 100 people are poisoning themselves and don’t even know it.” It’s just a slow gradual impact that’s slowly but surely deteriorating the system, and then if you don’t do something about it – you don’t read the symptoms of the skin or the headache or the tiredness, over time it becomes something more severe, like you described.
Yeah, so it’s like the boiling frog syndrome. Frog stays in the pot whilst the heat slowly turned up, and eventually boils to death because it doesn’t notice the slow increase in temperature.
Right. It happens. It simply happens, but it doesn’t have to happen. But we have to become aware of these things. I think it starts with school very young. I mean, we just haven’t been given enough appreciation of this amazing physiology. I mean, we’re incredible. Every human being is amazing with what’s going on. We take the heart pumping day and night for 40, 50, 60, 80, 100 years, and we just don’t even thank it – don’t even recognize it. It’s like all these –
It’s a miraculous system. Yes, we are a miracle – walking miracle.
Exactly. If we recognize that, more so we would take much better care of it, but we just kinda take it for granted and just have all these – oh my god. Television – I mean, every ad just about is on drugs, medications.
There’s a cure for everything now.
I don’t, but I’m a big fan of muscle testing. Big fan of it. It’s a very subjective process, and so you really have to be able to have confidence and trust in the person doing it, or learn how to do it yourself, which is something that I have developed a certain amount of skill and reliability with. Look, the body never lies. That doesn’t mean we’ll interpret it correctly, but it never lies. If it’s doing something, it’s doing something for a reason. If you’re testing a muscle and it’s strong, and you test the muscle for something else and it’s weak, the body is telling you something there. It definitely has merit.
Listeners, check out that episode with Christian Mickelsen, another person that I met through the Tony Robbins world. Very smart guy and spiritually connected to, and I think you will really enjoy the episode. We talk a bit about muscle testing. We talk about his Peace Process and Instant Miracle. Just to wrap up here, Jeffrey – anything in particular about how you eat? We talked a lot about what you eat and what you don’t eat.
Another great question! I thank you for that because years ago, there was someone called Horace Fletcher. Are you familiar with him?
He was coined “The Great Masticator.” If there’s one thing I want to leave your listeners with is learn how to masticate. You must masticate thoroughly, and lots of people think it will make him go blind, but they’re confusing it with another word. This is “mastication,” the art and skill of chewing thoroughly.
Yeah. Because it gets the saliva fully mixed in, and the saliva is full of enzymes that will break down the food and make it easier to digest, so it’s less hard work on your stomach to digest the food. Really important. People are just – eat too fast, and they’re in a hurry. They’re not thinking about the timing and stuff, like they go right to bed after they eat and stuff. How you eat – really important, too.
Yes, how you eat, when you eat – all those things. I mean, if all you do is chew your food thoroughly. I’m gonna say 20 times or whatever, but this Horace Fletcher – for people that are really interested, Google him, and you’ll see some – he’s written books. He’s done some science on it. It’s really interesting because he actually believes that we’ve lost some of the mechanics of actually how to properly masticate and when to swallow the food. It’s pretty fascinating.
Yeah. You should even chew your…
…your liquids. Let’s say that you’re taking a wheatgrass shot, for example. I always chew my wheatgrass shot.
Slush it around.
Yeah, and then I do that for at least 20, 30 seconds before I swallow it. Yeah, you get way more value out of that wheatgrass than if you just chug it like it’s an alcohol shot or something.
Right, and of course, those signals go to the brain. The brain right away gets what’s going on and prepares the digestive system. It’s really cool, but again, it’s part of the miracle of who we are and what we are made of.
Yeah. Okay, so how do we get signed up to do the Immunolabs testing? Where do we go? What’s the cost? How long does it take? All that.
Sure. The best place to go is Immunolabs.com. As I said, that free report is at foodsignals.com – the inflammatory food report. In either case, you’ll be able to pursue connecting up with us and getting all the details. Prices are anywhere from $40 to hundreds of dollars, depending on what someone is purchasing. That really becomes a matter of interacting with either us or the doctor, to determine what they really want to achieve. Because there’s a handful of different tests that are potentially available, and we like to individually personalize it to the wants and needs of the individual that we’re speaking with.
Got it. Awesome! Thank you so much, Jeffrey, for sharing all your wisdom and experience and your story of how you ended up in this amazing field. Thank you, listeners, for paying attention to this. This is a very crucial part of your health that is probably not getting enough focus, so go ahead and get tested. Immunolabs.com. Then take some action. Don’t just follow my approach, which was, “Well, that was interesting,” and put it in my wallet, and then don’t do anything with it. You have to take action to get the value out of it. Speaking of which, there is an action-based checklist of things that you can do based on what we discussed in this episode, also at the optimizedgeek.com in addition to the show notes, with the links to the different resources that we talked about. All that is at optimizedgeek.com. Thank you so much. This is Stephan Spencer signing off. We’ll catch you on the next episode of The Optimized Geek.
- Immuno Laboratories
- Jeffrey Zavik on LinkedIn
- Jeffrey S. Zavik on Facebook
- Jeffrey Zavik on YouTube
- Toxic Food Syndrome
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Leaky gut syndrome
- ELISA test
- Elimination diet
- Fit for Life
- Dr. Esselstyn
- Mediterranean diet
- Tony Robbins
- Boiling frog syndrome
- Christian Mickelsen on the Optimized Geek
- Susan Blum on the Optimized Geek
- Muscle testing
- Horace Fletcher
Your Checklist of Actions to Take
☑ Understand that there’s a difference between food allergy and food sensitivity. The former has a rather quick reaction compared to the latter, whereas food sensitivity may take a few days or weeks to affect people.
☑ When I experience recurring pain such as diarrhea, constipation or headaches, it may be because I ate something that my body is reacting to. Try a few changes in my diet or consult a medical professional who can enlighten me on my condition.
☑ Use the Elimination Diet to pinpoint food sensitivities. I can limit food reactions by avoiding certain foods and gradually reintroducing them into my diet.
☑ Learn about and explore food substitutions by going online and looking for answers from health experts.
☑ Create a complete list of foods that are right for my body. Look for quick and easy recipes I can follow and incorporate into my daily routine.
☑ Avoid inflammatory foods like gluten, yeast, tomatoes, wheat and more. Get the list of
the top 21 most reactive foods by signing up for the mailing list at FoodSignals.com.
☑ Experiment with different kinds of diets to find out what works best for me. Each one has different benefits and detriments for individuals.
☑ Take local, raw, unprocessed honey whenever I get seasonal allergies.
☑ Aim to support my microbiome and probiotics instead of taking antibiotics to regain the health balance my body needs.
☑ Thoroughly chew my food and even some of my drinks (such as smoothies) to aid with digestion and activate enzymes found in saliva.
About Jeffrey Zavik
Jeffrey Zavik, is the founder of his family run Immuno Laboratories located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and author of Toxic Food Syndrome.
Since 1978, Immuno Labs has served 12,000 physicians, 350,000 patients in 84 countries on 6 continents, having run over 38 million food sensitivity tests.
Because he is among the 95% of Americans suffering from what he calls TOXIC FOOD SYNDROME, Jeffrey experienced multiple bouts of otitis media, diarrhea, constipation, and stomach aches. Having undergone discomforts both acute and chronic, subtle and brutal, Zavik has written an easy-to-read small book which explains how to discover THE RIGHT FOOD MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE when it comes to relieving chronic nagging symptoms.