Frequently in our group the question of pushing through reactions, often by professional recommendation, and long term risks associated with long term inflammation come up. Throwing in the LEAP study too, there are lots of questions. There can be a lot of confusion about what is really the best thing for our little ones.
Unfortunately, this isn’t something I personally believe any professional or peer can tell you what you *should* do; because as a parent we have to weigh up the individual reactions, their side effects, and perceived long term risks for ourselves, and weigh up what we personally think is best for our children, and then advocate for our child’s health with gusto.
Pushing through can be such tricky advice because symptoms can be vast and varied in cause and manifestation.
Mucus and stool reactions:
Some infants have more mucus than would be deemed an optimal baseline, but their parents might think its consistent and seems unaffected by any further dietary modifications. Perhaps their gut is working overtime to heal the pre-existing damage so trials that don’t make it worse, or cause temporary small fluctuations in this might be passable, in the interests of increasing dietary variety as quickly and safely as possible.
Similarly, if there is a history of poor gastro reactions sometimes it might be necessary to do longer length trials to identify if a reaction is a genuine reaction, or the digestive tract is adapting to exposure to a new food.
I can’t see a situation when anyone would suggest you *should* push through any more severe reactions; blood in stools (colitis) and diarrhoea can cause anaemia and dehydration if prolonged. They can also cause ongoing increased inflammation in the gut, which can affect the overall inflammatory load of the body, increasing the sensitivity to further reactions.
Reflux can be tricky, a lot of acidic foods are high histamine and histamine is a common reflux trigger. Theoretically reflux could potentially rebound as a result of any food that alters the pH of the stomach acid. Reflux can be caused by both high and low stomach acid, and individuals who suffer from it can have especially sensitive stomachs. Sometimes longer trials may be required to identify if a flare in reflux is a reaction or the stomach adapting to any alterations in the pH caused by potential new food trials.
Skin reactions tend to be less something that can be “pushed through” because they are normally IgE or mast cell reactions that tend to represent an increase in the overall inflammatory/histamine bucket. So when you try to push through them they can develop into more severe eczema flares, or the increased tendency toward reacting to new things because of a full bucket. Which can make things seem like they’re fails when they aren’t necessarily, they could just be more poorly tolerated because of increased overall inflammation.
Congestion, Coughing, Sneezing, wheezing are all atopic symptoms of potentially IgE allergies or mast cell reactions, that shouldn’t be ignored or “pushed through”.
Those with IgE allergies have an increased risk of asthma and eczema, which can both be symptoms of food, environmental and stress related reactions. Reducing inflammation in these areas can reduce the risks of them being more chronically manifested.
Long-term risks associated with inflammation:
In our society we are faced with an epidemic of chronic inflammatory conditions from Autistic spectrum disorders caused by neurological inflammation, which are highly correlated with gastro sensitivities; to eczema, asthma, IBD/IBS, Crohn’s Disease, and Coeliacs Disease to name but a few, which are all manifestations of chronic inflammation.
Generally it is holistically considered better to do longer trials to identify if a food is genuinely a problem, or needs an adaptation period, rather than push through any of the more risky symptoms. Pushing through can fill up the body’s inflammatory load, thereby increasing the risk of fails to other foods or a more long-term inflammatory burden on the body.
“Die-off” Herxheimer reactions, Yeast, Candida, and Dysbiosis:
Sometimes when we start a new food or supplement it can cause a shift in the microbes in our gut. This shift in microbes can manifest itself physically appearing like many allergic symptoms (IgE & non-IgE).
For example, when starting a new probiotic it is typical to experience die off/herxheimer reaction, which can manifest in skin and gastro flares. If this happens, it can help to reduce the dose and the symptoms typically self resolve within around a week. It can also take a few days to adapt to foods that have antimicrobial properties as they can also alter your microbiome, which is shared through nursing.
Alternatively sometimes when we introduce foods that are high in sugar or starch like flours or refined sugar, these can cause similar symptoms for less beneficial purposes. They can feed yeasts including candida in the gut, which can cause symptom flares, and prolong dysbiosis (microbial imbalance) slowing down healing. So even though they aren’t allergies, the impact they are having on your microbiome, can manifest in pseudo-allergic symptoms.