Can a paleo diet really help conquer allergies?

Pediatrician Robert W. Sears — or Dr. Bob, on his Web site and in media appearances — is a controversial figure in the world of vaccines: He has famously proposed alternative vaccination schedules that the mainstream medical community argues contribute to undervaccination in the childhood population.

But in the new book he has co-written with his father, William Sears — or Dr. Bill, who is also a pediatrician — vaccines aren’t the issue. It’s “The Allergy Book: Solving Your Family’s Nasal Allergies, Asthma, Food Sensitivities and Related Health and Behavioral Problems.”

Dr. Bob has suffered from nasal allergies and asthma most of his life, and many of the anecdotes in the book are his. For example: Although he says he managed his own condition pretty well — often with very familiar over-the-counter medications — it was only after he went on a paleo diet and then went completely gluten-free that his asthma symptoms virtually disappeared.

As the subtitle indicates, the book takes a broad look at all kinds of sensitivity-related ills and possible solutions, both for children and adults. Some examples:

●If your baby is getting reflux from formula, feed half as much, twice as often.

●Although doctors used to advise people with eczema to limit baths, it is now believed that soaking in a warm bath without soap is a good idea. And over-the-counter antihistamines help with this skin allergy, too.

●If you use a spray inhaler for asthma, you may be using it wrong. Many people make the mistake of putting it in the mouth, with lips wrapped around it — which is appropriate for powder inhalers. But for sprays, hold the inhaler two inches away from the mouth, and start inhaling a split second before spraying.

●If you think you have a sensitivity to gluten, don’t go gluten-free all at once; the chemical withdrawal can cause mood swings and increase cravings.

●Newly developed desensitization therapies may work for peanut allergies: The patient eats very small quantities of peanuts in the allergist’s office, increasing the dose each time.

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