The Science of 4-Day Rotation Dieting ExplainedI received this detailed question in response to a recent Facebook video on my YouTube Channel, a Q&A with Matthew Wallden. My response to his question about the 4-day rotation diet and the body’s immune response to it follows.

Roberto Moffa: Hi Paul, I have a question regarding the 4-day rotation diet. I understand your reasons behind separating the foods into four days and allowing the immune system at least 24 hours of no exposure to that food’s protein to see what you’re sensitive to and to help calm down the immune system.

However, from what I understand, the body’s responses to a particular food and its protein don’t just happen all at once right after you eat the food.

Sometimes it can be present on the next following day or even the day after that (hence people wait for at least three days to see if anything bad happens when they try to reintroduce the food they know they have a history of being sensitive to in the past).

So my question is then, how can you know if, let’s say, the problems you are having on day three are from the foods you eat on day three and not the delayed effects of the food you’ve eaten on days one and two?

Does one need to keep track of three days in a row and try to make a correlation looking back instead of just correlating day-by-day?

Thanks Paul!

Complex blood issues

The Science of 4-Day Rotation Dieting ExplainedThat’s a good question, but it gets into some complex issues of immunoglobulin responses.

Immunoglobulin E (IgE) responses are rapid and occur when people are allergic to foods they eat. One example is anaphylactic shock, if someone has a severe, allergic response to eating peanuts.

Immunoglobulin A (IgA) responses occur quickly as well. About 89 percent of IgA lines your gut and mucous membranes and they respond to antigens on contact.

They are also drastically reduced whenever cortisol levels are too high for extended periods of time, as is the case when adrenal fatigue is a relevant issue. Simply put, this happens when an individual’s stress is too high for them to maintain autonomic balance between the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and parasympathetic nervous system (PNS).

Immunoglobulin G (IgG) responses generally occur within 72 hours of being triggered by an antigen.

Immunoglobulin M (IgM) responses can take up to one year. For example, you could end up with a headache from an IgM response to food you ate that contains gluten (if you are gluten-intolerant) up to one year later!

It has been a long time since I actually had to think specifically about these issues, but you can look into them more deeply by reading Food Allergies and Food Intolerance: The Complete Guide to Their Identification and Treatment by Jonathan Brostoff and Linda Gamlin.

There may be newer books, but I’ve not kept up with them because my level of understanding is adequate to help the people who see me. And, if a patient is more complex than I can handle, I work in tandem with other experts to go deeper into testing and using other healing methods as needed.

The only way to really determine if slow responding immunoglobulins are involved in a person’s food/immune challenges is to do a blood test for food allergy/intolerance.

That said, having used them for many years, and tested companies by doing a double blood draw (sending one set of vials in with my name and another set of my own blood with another name on them, then comparing the results), I found there was very poor consistency between the results of two sets of blood vials, even when they both came from me on the very same blood draw.

The 4-day rotation diet

The 4-day rotation diet works on more than one level to assist the body in healing and balancing. Here’s eight ways it works!

  1. Food rotation increases food variety and nutrient availability, helping the body receive the nutrients it needs to heal and keeping the enzyme pathways in the liver and body, in general, working better. This decreases the load on the immune system. Because there are essentially fewer toxins present, the body can detox more effectively.
  1. Resting the immune system from those potentially harmful, invasive foods that the body responds to at any level due to decreased overall exposure is an effective means of lowering overall stress and calming down the system.
  1. Reducing cravings by balancing and cleaning the body via the above mechanisms decreases exposure to invasive foods.
  1. Generally, rotation dieting greatly enhances a person’s awareness of what foods his/her body does and doesn’t handle well, again resulting in one being less likely to keep overstimulating her/his immune system.
  1. Reducing local and global inflammation improves the health of the gut wall (the small intestine being the most important), decreasing leaky gut syndrome.
  1. Bowel movements generally improve, therefore, autointoxication is reduced.
  1. Sleep quality is enhanced, greatly improving autonomic balance, organ and gland functioning, brain and nervous system functioning, tissue regeneration and recovery from stress and exercise, while reducing inflammation and much more.
  1. All the factors mentioned above, including the health improvement stemming from rotation dieting with “awareness” results in better food choices and often one is less hungry. This is pivotal in the reduction and clearing of fungus and parasites, which decreases inflammation and toxicity significantly.

I’ve worked with loads of clients on food allergy/intolerance issues during my career, while also testing and using rotation dieting. Over and over, I found that, even when I do find people with high reactivity to slow-reacting immunoglobulins, when they follow a rotation diet properly for three to six months and are restested, there is a reduced overall sensitivity to potentially all immunoglobulin (immune) responses.

If I find there are elevated levels of immune stimulation on follow-up blood or salivary tests, usually other offensive agents — mercury and other heavy metals or environmental chemicals (xenoestrogens and other toxins) — need to be removed or physiological balance can’t be restored.

Additionally, I’ve found several cases of infected teeth from cavities and root canals that were poisoning the body, as well as dental amalgams and other agents used to repair teeth, weakening or hyper-sensitizing the immune system.

Tracking foods, drinks and responses with rotation dieting

Keeping a log of one’s foods, drinks and symptoms is essential to long-term success. The more challenged one’s health is, the more comprehensive the approach to applying rotation diet concepts and tracking needs to be.

In C.H.E.K Holistic Lifestyle Coaching Level 2 training, students are provided with a comprehensive diet, exercise and lifestyle logging system to use with their clients.

This degree of monitoring and assessment is appropriate for the necessary work of professional lifestyle coaches, nutritionists and healthcare professionals as a general rule.

The Science of 4-Day Rotation Dieting ExplainedFor people seeking to improve their overall health and vitality on their own, these tips are essential:

  • Use a logbook or journal dedicated to tracking foods, drinks and responses for daily recording and monitoring. Today, many find it much easier to use their smartphone. Most devices have a daily calendar program that allows information to be recorded by the hour, which I’ve found most helpful when coaching people.
  • Track food and drinks throughout your day as you consume them. This process should go on until one’s health and vitality are stabilized and new eating and self-management behaviors have reached the level of unconscious competency (making optimal choices naturally without having to think about them).
  • Record any and all symptoms of discomfort or imbalance in your log when they occur. These symptoms should include not only bodily symptoms, but emotional and mental (cognitive) ones too. The symptoms you feel in your brain are just as important and relevant as physical symptoms.
  • After two 4-day rotation periods have passed, look carefully for correlations between the symptoms you experience and the foods you eat. Because symptoms may or may not occur on the same day a food or drink is consumed, one must look for patterns ranging from 1-4 days. In my experience, most symptom-response patterns fall into a period of 1-3 days as long as the individual is doing the rotation diet correctly and not cheating themselves or sabotaging their own program and progress. An example of a longer range pattern may be one in which a patient eats a specific food containing gluten and gets gas and bloating within the first 2-5 hours, but has disrupted sleep and elevated body temperature for up to four days after an initial exposure. If one keeps eating an offensive food, naturally, the symptoms will continue indefinitely and this makes tracking and finding the problem food very hard.
  • The more symptoms one has, or the less healthy and vital he/she is, the more essential it is to limit the number of foods and drinks (other than water) consumed to a bare minimum. I recommend no more than one flesh food and two sources of fruit or vegetables per 24-hour rotation period, or it becomes a lot harder to isolate the real problem, and the number of periods of removal must be increased. The longer it takes for people to remove foods for which they have an affinity, the more likely they are to sabotage their own process. Once one comes to a conclusion as to which foods or drinks may be triggering symptoms, they should be removed on the next 4-day rotation cycle, then substituted with ones that fit the rotation plan. People should also feel confident they are not having any negative response to these new foods or drinks. (Tip: Usually, the foods or drinks consumed most by the individual are the problem.) If removing that food or drink eliminates or reduces specific symptoms, it should be kept out of the rotation for at least three months before being reintroduced for retesting.
  • If a person is having a hard time distinguishing what the offensive food is, I suggest they only eat that food to the degree that it is possible. For example, if one feels the problem may be beef, then I would have them eat only beef for as many meals as possible, but ideally, for a whole day. This way, there is only one input and any negative responses are likely to be related. This wouldn’t include responses such as craving carbs, which are likely unless one really does well on a high-fat, high-protein diet. It’s important to understand this method is diagnostic, and by no means how someone should eat in general. Although this approach may seem radical to some people, it is far less drastic than taking all sorts of drugs for the wide variety of symptoms generated by food and drink reactions, which are as common as sunlight. Yes, this may be uncomfortable to some people, but it is not dangerous and provides a lot of useful information.
  • Medical rotation dieting is stricter, in that all spices and oils must be rotated as well as foods.
  • In cases where the approaches I’ve described above don’t get the results needed, and blood or saliva tests haven’t isolated the problem, I recommend fasting. Start with a mini-fast of 24 hours, then progress from there to three-day fasting. If longer fasts are needed, I suggest going to a center where they are supervised. Fasting is very powerful, and can have a “rebooting” effect on many of the body’s systems.

I hope this information helps you better understand why I teach rotation dieting in my Holistic Lifestyle Coaching program, offer it in my book, How To Eat, Move and Be Healthy!, and use it in my clinical practice with patients and athletes as a means of enhancing their performance.

Love and chi,