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About Dr. Leo Galland
Leo Galland, MD, is internationally recognized as a world leader in integrated medicine and a founder of Functional Medicine. A board-certified internist, he is a Fellow of the American College of Nutrition and the American College of Physicians. Educated at Harvard University and the NYU School of Medicine, he won the Linus Pauling Award for his trailblazing vision that created a bold new way to practice medicine for thousands of doctors. He has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, on the Dr. Oz Show, The Today Show, and Good Morning America, PBS, CNN, and Fox. Dr. Galland is recognized in The Leading Physicians of the World and America’s Top Doctors.
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Books Mentioned in this Podcast
01:04 Dr. Galland’s Interest in Inflammation and Chronic Illness: Inflammation plays an important role in all sorts of chronic illness. He realized that a great deal of the inflammation and the mystery ailments that he was seeing had an allergic origin. Allergies are often from molds or foods in particular.
03:01 Why Are You Allergic? Allergists would have worked with his patients to discover what they were allergic to and what drugs to use to suppress their symptoms. Dr. Galland focuses on why they had allergies, the immune dysregulation and inflammation. There were two major factors which have become the mainstay of his practice: environmental factors (fundamentally toxicity) and a problem in their gut. With food allergies, there is always a problem in the gut. Gut issues needed to be addressed before the food allergies could be addressed. Along with this is the impact of nutrition on allergy. Many of his patients with chronic inflammation are deficient in certain minerals or essential fats, like omega 3 and the balance of omega 3 to omega 6.
05:02 The Allergy Epidemic: Dr. Galland’s new book, The Allergy Solution, is fundamentally a self-help book, to take the work that he has done in his practice and translate it into something that a person could do on their own. He realized that he needed to deal with the allergy epidemic as a phenomenon. The allergy epidemic is a huge and profound phenomenon. Before the late 19th century, there was no concept of allergy in medicine. It did not exist. There was only occasional anaphylaxes from bee stings, but that’s all. Hay Fever was the first to emerge and increase. Asthma began to increase in the 1960s until today’s epidemic levels. The third wave of this epidemic is food allergy. Anaphylactic allergies to nuts among children in the US and England tripled from 1995 to 2010. At the beginning of the century, hardly anyone had allergies. In the US, at least 30% of people suffer from allergies. US government data indicates that over half of Americans will experience an allergic reaction during their lifetime.
11:01 The Hygiene Hypothesis: Dr. Galland does not believe that this theory is correct. The highest rates and the most severe allergic reactivity in the US are in the inner cities. The rate of skin test reactivity and the severity of eczema increases with poverty, dilapidated housing and the presence of garbage in the streets. He does agree with the portion of the hygiene hypothesis that deals with the gut microbiome and its destruction by our modern lifestyle.
12:36 Outdoor Environment: Particulates from outdoor air pollution damages our respiratory tract. The information that it generates allows us to be more sensitive to allergens. Outdoor air pollution increases the allergenicity of the world in which we live. The US department of agriculture planted ragweed in the inner city of Baltimore, in the suburbs and in the countryside 40 miles away. The inner city urban ragweed plants grew twice as big as the rural plants and produced five times the amount of pollen. The suburban plants were intermediate. Pollen is toxic. Pollen grains contain a potent oxidative enzyme called NOX (NADPH oxidase). It generates free radicals. Our bodies generate NADPH oxidase as part of an immune response to kill bacteria. When pollen lands in your nose, it starts producing damage in your nose. Most of the allergens in pollen are defense proteins produced by the plants when they are under stress. Plants are making more pollen and the pollen is more allergenic, creating more defense proteins called panallergens. These are also found in the plants we eat. A study of poison ivy showed that if it grows in a polluted environment, it produces more of the allergen that creates the contact dermatitis.
18:18 Indoor Environment: We spend 90% of our time indoors. There are over 100,000 chemicals in our indoor environment. Every 2.6 seconds, there is a new chemical that comes out of a laboratory somewhere in the world. That is about 1 million each year. Formaldehyde is the best understood chemical from an allergic perspective. It is a natural substance that is produced in trace amounts in our bodies. Higher amounts are toxic and carcinogenic. It is in new clothing. It off-gasses from carpeting, even wool carpeting. It is used to make particle board and pressed wood products. It is in cigarette smoke, wood smoke and latex paint. A study of formaldehyde in homes showed that it was in every room. There was a direct relationship between the level of formaldehyde in the home and the likelihood the children growing up in that home would be allergic. At the highest levels, it was associated with asthma. Formaldehyde can be an irritant and an allergen. It dysregulates the immune system. This is just one out of thousands of substances.
20:45 The Connection BetweenTriclosan, Staph and Food Allergies: An antibacterial, Triclosan, is used in antibacterial soaps, shampoos, dishwashing detergent and other cleaning products, and in gym clothes. When your skin touches Triclosan, it is absorbed and travels throughout your body. Researchers measured the level of Triclosan in nasal secretions. Fifty percent of the people tested, had Triclosan in their nose. Triclosan is supposed to be antibacterial, but it changes the microbiome in the nose to increase the ability of dangerous staph bacteria to attach to human cells. If you have Triclosan in your nose, you have a greater amount of staph in your nose. It is a major cause of sinus infection and staph releases and secretes proteins called super antigens. If you are making them in your nose, they are in the mucus and you are swallowing them. Super antigens screw up your immune system. They inactivate a group of white blood cells called regulatory T-cells or T-regs. T-regs keep your immune system from over-reacting. People with allergies have defective T-reg cells. Studies done in Europe show that people who have nasal polyps, associated with chronic nasal allergies, inflammation and sinus infections, have a very high rate of food allergy. Study participants were more allergic to food than to environmental allergens. Nasal polyps are associated with staph. A study measured the amount of Triclosan in children’s urine. There was a direct relationship between the level of Triclosan in the urine and the likely hood that the children would have allergies.
26:48 The Microbiome: A lack of diversity of microbes in your gut, in your respiratory tract, and in your nasal mucosa is highly associated with allergy. The micobiome or fungal part of the microbiome is now being explored. As our microbial diversity is shrinking, the fungal organisms are taking over. The microbes living in our bodies have a profound affect upon your immune system. Two thirds of your immune system is located in your gut. The gut is the training center for your immune system. The lymphocytes in your gut circulate throughout your body and communicate information, returning to the gut. The gut is where the immune system gets most of its information. Antibacterials, antibiotics, herbicides and pesticides kill bacteria. Glyphosate (in Roundup) is in Roundup Ready GMO foods, because the plants have been designed to resist its effects. Glyphosate is an antibiotic. When chickens eat food containing glyphosate, their gut bacteria is screwed up and it encourages the growth of harmful bacteria.
31:14 The Microbiome and Inflammation: The microbiome is not just about diversity. There is a powerful interaction with inflammation. Research shows clearly that inflammation changes the microbiome. When you get inflammation, one of the chemicals that are released is nitric oxide, an important part of the inflammatory cascade. At low levels, it is essential for circulation and the health of your blood vessels. With inflammation, you get more nitric oxide, which creates a buildup of nitrates in tissues. Nitrates encourage the growth of certain bacteria and discourage the growth of other bacteria. The bacteria that love nitrates are bacteria like E.coli and other pathogenic bacteria. They thrive on adrenaline. When you are under stress, your E.coli thrives. E.coli and related bacteria promote inflammation to make better living conditions for themselves. Giving probiotics will not solve the problem. You need to deal with the pathogenic bacteria or whatever is driving inflammation. Sometimes antibiotics work better than probiotics for restoring healthy gut flora. It is a tricky balance.
34:49 Dealing with Allergies: Even if allergies are not the main cause of the issue, once you start to become allergic, you have to deal with allergic inflammation which aggravates the problem. Allergy causing foods need to be eliminated. Dr. Galland has developed the Power Wash, a shift in diet to get rid of allergenic foods and add anti-inflammatory foods that have a low risk of being allergenic, as well as foods that help regulatory T-cells and their function. Dr. Galland left onions and garlic off his good list because so many people are sensitive to them. Some are allergic to them, but more importantly, they contain fructans, which are polymers of fructose. Many of us have difficulty digesting fructans and absorbing the fructose. This dysregulates gut bacteria. In his Power Wash, Dr. Galland does not start with onions and garlic, but when we reach his Full Immune Balance Diet, they play an important role. As you reintroduce foods, you discover foods that your body does or does not like. From there you can construct a diet that is optimal for you. There are universal principles that deal with regulatory T-cells and how your body is protected from environmental toxicity.
38:20 Food as Protection from Outdoor Toxins: In general, vegetables and fruits are the foods that protect against allergies and against the development of allergies. To some extent, that includes omega 3 fatty acids and dietary magnesium, from nuts, seeds and vegetables, as well as selenium from sea food and nuts. They protect against allergy in general. The most protective factors in outdoor air pollution are those found in broccoli and other brassica vegetables. In a UCLA study, participants were exposed to diesel exhaust and then to their allergens. The diesel exhaust aggravated the allergic responses. The levels of diesel are those that you might encounter under an overpass in Los Angeles. Then the participants consumed broccoli sprouts. Within 3 days, the broccoli sprouts blocked the ability of the diesel exhaust to aggravate the allergic reactions. It appeared to enhance detoxification. Including brassica sprouts in a healthy diet is important. Cooking broccoli kills the enzyme that creates the sulforaphane. Diakon radish is part of the Power Wash soup. It is added raw at the end of cooking because it contains an enzyme, myrosinase that converts the precursor of sulforaphane into sulforaphane.
41:28 Foods as Protection from Indoor Toxins: Bioflavonoids inactivate staph toxins. If you are eating a high bioflavonoid diet, even if you have staph growing in your nose, the staph toxins will struggle to make you more allergic. The typical American diet is low in flavonoids. Flavonoids encourage diversity of gut bacteria because they regulate the growth of bacteria. The greater diversity of flavonoids that you have in your food, the greater diversity of bacteria you will have in your gut. Fiber is important, but we need a total dietary approach that is rich in different kinds of fiber and many different kinds of flavonoids.
43:13 Foods That Support T-Regulatory Cells: A study in Scandinavia of children with milk allergies placed these children on a dairy-free diet for 6 months. At the end of 6 months, half of the children had outgrown their allergy. The only immunological difference between the children who had outgrown their milk allergy and those who did not was that the children who had outgrown the allergy had a higher T-regulatory cell response when they were challenged with milk. T-regs need folates. This is not folic acid, which is a synthetic vitamin which needs to be processed by the body to be used. Many of us have challenges converting folic acid into reduced folates. The part that we cannot convert can be toxic and impair immune function. Cooking may destroy some of the natural folate in our foods. Raw spinach, arugula, avocado and other green leafy vegetables are good sources. Vitamin A is important to the development of T-reg cells. You can get the vitamin a you need from fruits and vegetables in the form of beta carotene or alpha carotene, to be converted into vitamin A. Animal sources of vitamin A from egg yolks and liver may be problematic and over-consumption may be toxic. The safest sources are plant sources. Beta and alpha carotene are best absorbed from cooked vegetables along with fat.
47:21 The Power of Flavonoids: Flavonoids help the function and development of T-reg cells. There are three important flavonoids. Fisetin has been shown to protect T-regulatory cells from the effects of stress. It is also neuroprotective. A rich source of fisetin is strawberries. Apigenin is a powerful flavonoid found in parsley. EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) is found in green tea and oolong tea. To remove the caffeine, steep it in hot water for 30 seconds, discard the water, and then boil it for 5 minutes. Boiling releases the EGCG. Oolong tea has more of an anti-allergic effect than green tea, using the amount of oolong tea found in 10 grams of tea leaves, which is 4 or 5 tea bags, each day. Quercetin, which is found in onions and apples, may have a direct anti-histaminic effect.
50:62 The Revolution: Dr. Galland is not primarily looking for symptom suppression. The revolution is in changing the immune system. The symptoms of allergy are fundamentally ways that your body is ridding itself of a toxin. Allergy is built into our defense systems. Dr. Galland believes that any person on earth would become allergic given enough toxicity. Some of us are more genetically more susceptible and will get the allergic protective response with a hair trigger.
52:38 Asthma in Children: There is a gene for a very important detoxing protein called GST (glutathione S-transferase). This allows you to use glutathione to rid your body of toxins. Children with a defect in that gene are more susceptible to asthma, but only if they are exposed to cigarette smoke or air pollution. Vitamin C can help them. Vitamin C does not protect children with a normal GST gene.
54:13 The Impact of Synthetic Air Fragrances: If you expose a laboratory rat to synthetic fragrances, it inflames the lining of the nose. The longer they are exposed, the greater the degree of inflammation. People who use sprayed aerosolized cleaning products have an increased risk of asthma. They are damaging to the lungs and sensitize the lungs.
55:21 Venting Laundry Chemicals: A study looked at the air coming out of dryer vents. If you clean your clothes with ordinary unscented laundry detergent, the air coming out of the dryer has hardly anything in it. If you use a dryer sheet or a scented laundry detergent, the air from your dryer is a stew of chemicals which includes irritants and allergens. The lead researcher on this study from the University of Washington moved to Australia. She could not get funding to continue her research in the US because of power of the fragrance industry.
58:62 Dr. Galland’s Favorite Nutrient: Dr. Galland’s favorite food substance is parsley because of the apigenin flavonoid.
59:44 Dr. Galland’s Morning Routine: In the morning, Dr. Galland spends time with his wife. He believes that it is the most nourishing thing that he can do.
60:18 One Health Tip for America: Dr. Galland would want leaders to understand the fundamental thread of what he discussed in this interview, which is the interaction between toxicity and our health. The toxicity that we are creating is responsible for most of the health problems that we have. In addition, it impacts the planet as a whole and its future.
Dr. Fitzgerald received her doctorate of naturopathic medicine from National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon. She completed the first CNME-accredited post-doctorate position in nutritional biochemistry and laboratory science at Metametrix (now Genova) Clinical Laboratory under the direction of Richard Lord, Ph.D. Her residency was completed at Progressive Medical Center, a large, integrative medical practice in Atlanta, Georgia under the direction of Cheryl Burdette, ND and Susan Tanner, MD. tions.