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TEST: The Elimination Stage Transition Diet

TEST: The Elimination Stage Transition Diet

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TEST: The Elimination Stage Transition Diet

382 pagine
4 ore
Nov 20, 2020


Combating harmful pathogens, such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi starts with a healthy gut. Nutrition is a critical part of good health. Approximately 80% of the body’s immune system is located in the gut. While having over 100 seizures a month and experiencing serious reactions to most foods, Irene created the TEST diet. This diet has played a crucial role in her ability to become healthy as well as control epilepsy, food intolerances, and IBD. Irene explains the interrelationship between diet, gut health, and general well-being, describing in straightforward terms how to help the immune system stay strong and healthy.

This book also teaches the reader how to modify a recipe and adjust it to satisfy their taste, address health challenges, and help prevent illness. Irene coaches the reader in a personalized manner, teaching them how to customize their diet. This approach is unique, in that, the diet can be altered when necessary.

Award-winning chef Marc Thuet and chef Marco Spalvieri share health promoting recipes. When you are done reading this book you will have the knowledge, direction, and step-by-step instructions to create a personalized diet plan that is healthy and catered to your palate. Irene enables people to create a diet that is not only healthy but also tastes great.
Nov 20, 2020

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TEST - Irene Spalvieri


Copyright © 2020 Irene Spalvieri

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored, or transmitted by any means—whether auditory, graphic, mechanical, or electronic—without written permission of the author, except in the case of brief excerpts used in critical articles and reviews. Unauthorized reproduction of any part of this work is illegal and is punishable by law.

This book is a work of non-fiction. Unless otherwise noted, the author and the publisher make no explicit guarantees as to the accuracy of the information contained in this book and in some cases, names of people and places have been altered to protect their privacy.

ISBN: 978-1-7168-6605-0 (sc)

ISBN: 978-1-7168-6603-6 (e)

Library of Congress Control Number: 2020911117

Edited by Dawson Sewell

Interior and cover photos by James Krant

Back cover photo by Anita Dizgun

Because of the dynamic nature of the Internet, any web addresses or links contained in this book may have changed since publication and may no longer be valid. The views expressed in this work are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher, and the publisher hereby disclaims any responsibility for them.

Lulu Publishing Services rev. date: 10/06/2020


It was Hippocrates who said, Let food be thy medicine and this idea is exemplified in the book written by Irene Spalvieri. As a neurologist, I have been trained to use various tools to investigate and treat a variety of conditions. However, in clinical practice, I realize the importance of food in addition to the prescribed treatments to help heal patients. This is greatly emphasized in our use of ketogenic diet therapies to treat patients with medically refractory epilepsy. This constitutes a very high fat, low carbohydrate diet plan which puts patients into ketosis and has been demonstrated to reduce seizures in children and adults. Irene’s unique way of distilling down the complex biochemistry and teaching the essence of nutrition is crucial to allow the reader to understand why the food they eat can impact their body and mind in various ways. The reader will use this book not just as an introduction but a guide they can return to continuously refresh themselves and apply these principles into their daily lives.

- Dr. Bercovici

I have epilepsy and when I follow the diet Irene recommends, I get a lot better. Not only do my seizures get better but my mood swings lesson. I seem to have more control regarding my emotions when I follow a strict diet. In addition, I sleep much better.

- Pat Villeneuve



In The Beginning

This book shares not only my personal journey back to wellness from debilitating illness, it also outlines how you can recover from your own ailments using diet and nutrition. I am an award-winning gourmet chef and a Registered Nutritional Consulting Practitioner (RNCP). Before creating the diet I now follow, I had seizures every day and my entire body was struggling with many health issues. I now feel great and attribute this to the diet I have created. My inspiration for writing this book is to share the dietary knowledge I gained during my healing process.

In addition to my personal experiences, my professional knowledge allows me to help people regain good health by teaching them how to recover from sickness through fine-tuning their diet, and also how to cook wonderful meals which benefit their wellbeing.

My Health Struggle

Many years ago, I became very sick and went to see a doctor who told me I had the flu and that I should get some rest and take Advil. After seeing him, I went home and my health continued to deteriorate. I decided it would be a good idea to get a second opinion. The next doctor I saw told me I had a bad case of pneumonia. I was instructed to take two prescriptions of very strong penicillin.

After taking the penicillin I became very sick, the pneumonia was gone but I didn’t feel well. When you take antibiotics, they can upset the balance of microorganisms (microbes) living in your gut. A huge population of microbes exist in the gut. In fact, there are trillions of microbes existing within the human body. Microbes living within the gut include bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Some of these microbes improve your health, and some harm your health.

Once you finish a course of antibiotic treatment, an imbalance of healthy to harmful bacteria may be present. Unfortunately, an imbalance of these microbes has the ability to contribute to unstable sugar metabolism, autoimmune diseases, and other immune disorders.

One of the most common results of gut microbiota imbalance is an increased risk of intestinal infections. Intestinal issues often result from an overgrowth of damaging bacteria present in the gut, such as Clostridium difficile (C. difficile). This bacterium may cause long-term and repeated intestinal infections that initiates inflammation of the colon, which can lead to colitis. C. difficile does not cause any significant disease when healthy bacteria are present and able to control infection. Nevertheless, when there is a disturbance in the normal balance of microbes naturally occurring in the intestine, this can result in the development of C. difficile infection, IBD, SIBO, IBS, and colorectal cancer. An imbalance of microbes can happen for a number of reasons, but mainly antibiotics, physical stress, psychological stress, hygiene, and the modern diet are contributing factors.¹, ²

The antibiotics prescribed when I had pneumonia were very strong and had killed off a large amount of the healthy bacteria in my gut. I believe it is important to mention while taking the two prescriptions of antibiotics, I had also started to eat 100% whole wheat bread. Regrettably, the media and my friends had convinced me that whole wheat bread is the healthiest.

I had no idea the antibiotics I had just taken could be leaving harmful microbes behind. As soon as I finished taking the antibiotics, I returned to my normal eating habits. I try to watch what I eat because I like to stay reasonably thin. Then again, I also like to cheat once in a while. At one point, when my mom was visiting for a week, we bought some Danishes and pigged out! The next morning I checked the scale and had not gained a pound.

I always gained weight when I cheated. Why wasn’t I gaining weight this time? Afterwards, I found I could eat what I wanted and not gain any weight, in fact, I was losing weight. I know everyone wants to lose weight. However, I was so skinny I looked sick and bruises began to appear all over my body. I suffered from stomach aches, erratic menstrual cycles, and bloating. I was losing so much hair, I thought I was going bald. To make matters worse, I was not sleeping properly, tossing and turning all night long. I had arthritis in my right elbow and my right knee. I couldn’t even touch my elbow; it was very painful. My ears were extremely itchy and sometimes they bled. Can you imagine how itchy and swollen they must have been to bleed? It also felt as though someone was constantly pinching under my right eye and the right side of my upper lip was twitching all the time.

Last but not least, the lymph nodes in my armpits were swollen. These nodes are an essential part of the immune system. They trap bacteria, viruses, and other foreign substances. Infections are a common cause of lymph node enlargement.³ I thought I was going nuts, and to my disbelief, everyone agreed. Nobody accepted what I said as true, there was something wrong with me, but I didn’t know what was wrong.

The Neurons of The Gut

The gastrointestinal tract (GI tract or digestive tract) is made up of several parts of the body from the mouth to the anus. The hollow organs of the GI tract are the mouth, oesophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and anus. The solid organs of the GI tract are the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas.

Most of my health issues seemed to be occurring within my intestines. This part of my body was in a lot of pain! Since I am a gourmet chef and a nutritional consultant, I knew many health problems start in the gut. A lot of people think the primary job of food is to supply the body with energy. While this may be true, the food you eat has many other significant functions and injury to the GI tract can disrupt numerous systems in the body.

The digestive tract contains a large number of neurotransmitters, bacteria, hormones, and enzymes. The gut is home to a high percentage of the body’s total immune system.⁴ Since there are many neurotransmitters in the gut, it is often referred to as the second brain. This area of the body has its own nervous system, called the enteric nervous system. A neuron is a cell which sends information from one part of the body to another. You have neurons in your brain and spine, as well as in your gut. Neurotransmitters carry messages between neurons.

The brain in the gut functions in a similar manner to the brain in our head. Scientists say the second brain sends and receives signals, and plays a role in many emotions we feel. If you are nervous and your stomach hurts while you are worried, this is because your second brain is stressed. This feeling is sometimes referred to as butterflies in the stomach. I remember saying to people, I am so nervous or upset that I feel sick to my stomach. If your second brain isn’t working, neither are you!

The enteric nervous system (ENS) is found in the gut, it is part of the peripheral nervous system (PNS). The ENS digests and absorbs food and is able to communicate with the central nervous system (CNS). The CNS is made up of the brain and spinal cord and is connected to the PNS. The PNS consists of nerves that take information to and from the central nervous system to different parts of the body, including organs. Essentially, the peripheral nervous system has the ability to allow communication between the brain and spinal cord with other areas of the body.

Since the GI tract is connected to the CNS, damage to this region is extremely dangerous. The number of illnesses now linked to food sensitivities is huge. I believe injury to the GI tract is similar to brain damage and none of us wants that.⁵, ⁶, ⁷

An example of what can happen when injury to the digestive tract occurs, is a lack of serotonin (a neurotransmitter) production. The majority of serotonin is synthesized and stored in the gut, in cells that line the intestinal wall. When serotonin levels are disturbed by damage to this part of the body it can produce changes in mood, depression, aggression, and even sleep problems. When you are tossing and turning all night long and can’t sleep, it may have to do with a lack of serotonin.

Elimination Diets

A growing body of evidence suggests the number of people suffering from food sensitivities has increased dramatically over the past century. Food allergies and sensitivities can injure many parts of the body, causing a wide range of health issues.⁹ Individuals suffering from gastrointestinal illness often get a food allergy test, but this may not be the most reliable method.

Based on my knowledge and experience dealing with my health issues, a very strict elimination diet is the best way to recognize which foods are causing harm. In the same way allergy tests have faults, so does an elimination diet. Nonetheless, it is easy to do, and I believe it is more accurate than allergy testing. An elimination diet allows the discovery of which foods might be causing damage to your system. It enables you to gain a clear understanding of which foods you are reacting to.

I knew a big part of the problem with my health had to do with certain ingredients in my diet. My job is to teach people how to eat a healthy diet, so I became my own client. I created a personalized diet and introduced supplements I believed would help repair the damage done to my body as a result of my pneumonia. I wanted to repopulate the healthy bacteria which had been wiped out from taking strong antibiotics. My goal was to deliver the nutrients my body needed. The damage to my GI tract was preventing me from being able to properly absorb the healthy nutrients in food.

A Gastroscopy Can Be Inconclusive

One of my doctors realized something was wrong, but had no idea how to help me regain my health. He sent me to see several specialists and none of them could figure out why I was so sick. They sent me for many tests, even a gastroscopy (upper gastrointestinal endoscopy), and all of them came back negative.

A gastroscopy involves a thin, flexible tube with a small light and video camera at one end, this instrument is called an endoscope. The doctor puts the tube in your mouth, down into your oesophagus, stomach, and the beginning of the small intestine (duodenum). A video monitor allows the doctor to evaluate the images. During the examination a small tissue sample (biopsy) is taken. The resulting images and tissue sample allows them to assess damage inside the GI tract.

After having this procedure, I was told I didn’t have celiac disease. I now know a gastroscopy can be inconclusive if the patient has stopped eating gluten. At this point, I had not been eating gluten for quite a while and in order for the gastroscopy to be accurate it requires weeks of eating gluten.

A counsellor from the Celiac Disease Society of Canada told me if the gastroscopy is done after the removal of gluten some recovery takes place. The stomach and intestines will no longer show any damage caused by gluten. She told me people call her all the time with the same story as mine. Regrettably, when I had the gastroscopy, I thought it was correct. I believed I didn’t have celiac disease.

Then I was sent to a specialist who did an MRI. I was told there was a possibility I would one day start to have seizures. I asked him why I wasn’t seizing right now and he said he wasn’t sure. At the time, very little was known about the damage gluten is able to cause. I now understand why people didn’t take the injury these grains inflict seriously. It’s unfortunate many people are not aware of the harm gluten can cause.

Continued The Changes to My Diet

Although my celiac disease tests came back negative, I continued using an elimination diet to root out problematic foods. Even though I was told I was fine, I thought it was worth a try because I was still very sick and food allergies/sensitivities are very common in my family.

After staying away from gluten for three years, I was feeling good and most of my health issues disappeared. I reintroduced gluten grains to my diet because I missed these foods very much. I had no idea the reaction to food containing gluten could be horribly serious. Since I was told the test results for celiac were negative, I decided to test these foods and see if there was any reaction. I thought if I reacted again, I would have the same reactions as before: weight loss, bruising, some hair loss, etc.

I started to eat gluten, soy, and dairy. I was very happy when everyone went for pizza, ice cream, and Chinese food, I was once again included and having a great time. My assumption was if I cheated my reactions would be the same as before, but regrettably, I was very wrong!

When I Began to Experience Seizures

Almost right away I started to feel dizzy and weird, but I wrote it off as tiredness. The dizziness started to occur more often and it became more intense as time went on. I went to see a doctor to figure out why I was experiencing these lightheaded moments. He started sending me for more tests. After many tests, they realized that I was having seizures!

He didn’t agree with me when I would say there was a link between my seizures and the food that was making me sick. Even when I said the seizures started exactly when I began to cheat and eat the foods I had been reacting to, the doctor couldn’t see a relationship. How frustrating it was to have everybody tell me there was no connection; I was patronized by everyone. Right away I remembered the specialist who had done the MRI and I recalled our conversation about seizures and gluten. He had also reassured me there was no association.

When you have epilepsy, the most common thing for people to say is you need to slow down and take it easy. I found sitting down and doing less frustrating, and almost impossible to do because I like staying busy. While resting helped, I was still having many seizures. Even though doing too much may be a component of having seizures, I don’t think it’s the whole story.

The doctors tried different medications, but I was still having seizures. Sometimes five complex partial seizures in one day and at times — SEIZING EVERY DAY!

The diet I had created helped me so much the first time around, I decided to try it again, but this time my diet had to be stricter. This time there was much more damage. I created a diet which removed many more ingredients than the first diet. I was left with a very restricted menu, I had to be exceptionally careful. The first time I followed this diet I didn’t have to be as strict; a little bit of gluten didn’t seem to bother me. Now even a speck of grains, or other foods which caused me to have a reaction, made me very sick and caused me to have a seizure.

I have done a lot of research regarding gluten sensitivities and food allergies. I have met and spoken to many people who suffer from food allergies/sensitivities. It seems everywhere I go someone is having a problem with one or more food sensitivities.

The Cultivation of Grains

My research has taught me many things, including the fact that modern farming is relatively new. Around 10,000 years ago, people first discovered how to cultivate crops and domesticate animals. This is not long ago if you take into consideration many estimate human beings have been evolving on earth for millions of years.¹⁰ Before farming, people survived by hunting animals and gathering wild plants. We were eating a mixture of the following: land animals (including organs, fat, and marrow), birds, seafood, nuts, fruit, vegetables, and berries. The quantity of each food varied according to the place and the season. This diet consisted of foods with a low glycemic index/load. In other words, foods with little or no carbohydrates.

Given the fact that humans started to farm a short while ago, we have only been eating high amounts of starches for a short period of time. I believe people were meant to eat and get their energy from meat, fish, healthy fats, vegetables, and berries. Thus, feeding our cells healthy fats as the main source of energy instead of glucose (starches and sugars). As well, people were more active than they are today. They were hunting and gathering food, not picking it up at Walmart after sitting at their desks all day. My feeling is if we weren’t meant to eat meat then we would become very sick when we ate this food.

Eating Starch With Every Meal

When I go to buy food, I see a huge variety of starches. At my local grocery store, I see foods such as cassava (a starchy root from South America sometimes called yuca). You know things have changed when the local, North American grocery store has cassava. The capacity to harvest, store, export, and import starchy food causes the price to go down. Cheap means it is eaten more often. We are eating more grains and starch than the human body was meant to have. It is unbelievable the amount of starch we consume in one day. Some eat cereal in the morning, a sandwich in the afternoon, and rice or some other starch for dinner. Then there are snacks, including crackers, cookies, and pretzels. Even pseudograins, such as quinoa, are starches and should not be eaten to the extent they are today. Since many do not part with their starch easily, getting people to eat less starch will be a long and slow process. It not only tastes great but is also quite addictive.

As mentioned earlier, a dangerous situation begins when you lack healthy bacteria in the gut as a result of taking antibiotics and/or other factors that can upset normal gut flora. In this case, a pro-inflammatory environment is created. Then grains, starches, and sugars can intensify the existing inflammation and cause disease. Continued inflammation is linked with many medical and psychiatric disorders, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, autoimmune diseases, schizophrenia, and depression. Additionally, it is frequently associated with higher levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines.¹¹ Cytokines will be discussed many times in this book. I believe certain cytokines are the main aggressors of numerous diseases.

Healthy Fats Are a Good Source of Energy

Ketones are organic compounds made when the body breaks down healthy fats for energy during spells of fasting, or when eating very little starch and sugar.¹² Using healthy fats as the primary energy source, instead of glucose, has some significant advantages. One benefit is you do not have to go hungry because fats satisfy most of the body’s energy requirements. When this happens, the craving for food diminishes. The desire to eat is merely there to make sure energy and nutrient requirements are fulfilled. Once these needs are met, the feeling of hunger is reduced. By using fats as the body’s main fuel supplier, you will be able to stop using glucose as the primary source of energy and encourage your body to run more efficiently.¹³

The paleo diet, a version of the ketogenic diet, has become very popular and is outlined later in the book. Right now, low-carb, high-fat diets are all the rage. Many people become much healthier and lose weight when they remove starch and sugar. As well, consuming fats will help prevent the pro-inflammatory environment I am going on about. No inflammation means your body will be much healthier and avoid contracting many illnesses.

Hybridization and GMO Foods

I do not think eating too much starch and sugar are the only reasons we are developing food allergies, sensitivities, and contracting more diseases. The hybridization and genetic modification of food is affecting our health in ways not seen in the history of humankind. Eating hybridized food and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) significantly increases health risks.

The wheat we are currently eating is hybridized and it has been said this is worse than genetic modification. I am not saying that genetic modification is healthy, I think it is very dangerous. A lot of the food we eat today is genetically modified. Eating GMO food can decrease the population of healthy bacteria and increase unhealthy bacteria, which can bring on Candida overgrowth, leaky gut, and inflammation. I always say to people, just because it doesn’t kill you instantly doesn’t mean it is good for you.

If we include some naturally occurring chemicals existing in plants, such as prolamins, agglutinins, digestive enzyme inhibitors, and saponins, we are encouraging the onset of leaky gut and inflammation.¹⁴, ¹⁵

Processed Food Can Be Poison

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