Have you ever thought about foods and ear health? According to researchers, there are six foods contributing to the inflammation of the eustachian tubes. When past clients remove inflammatory foods from their diet based on food allergy test results, I have seen adults and children become calmer and less prone to episodes of anger. Many children I worked with started listening with comprehension and asking questions instead of constantly talking.
When we talk, we do not have to listen.
I have even seen children with a mild stutter gain fluent speech after the identification and removal of a food allergen followed by Berard-based Auditory Integration Training. The book, The Second Brain, shares how the foods we eat quickly affects our brain. Think of the effects of caffeine or what happens when a diabetic eats sugar-laden food.
Six Common Food Intolerances and Allergies Contributing to Inflammation
There are two types of inflammatory responses to foods. The first is Food Sensitivity-IGG test, a digestive absorption response. The second is Food Allergies-IGE test, a DNA response. Not all allergic or intolerance reactions are visible with the naked eye. Allergic reactions to food are commonly associated with swelling of the face, tongue, and/or lips and hives. However, food allergies and intolerances can also cause stomach aches, diarrhea, behavioral changes, inflammation anywhere in the body, even inflammation of the eustachian tubes.
The foods you eat can feed molds like candida in your GI tract. When there is an overgrowth of molds and fungi in your body like candida, it causes inflammation. This sounds horrible and a bit overwhelming. I am here to help you along your journey by providing you with resources to help you make a plan. Let us start by learning what words to look for on food labels and then what behaviors provide clues there may be inflammation in the Eustachian tubes.
Six Foods Contributing to Inflammation:
- Dairy Products-lactose, whey, casein
- Wheat-gluten, malt (malt is a specially dried, germinated cereal grain)
- Sugar-refined sugars, honey, and natural sweeteners, fruit
Inflammation and Fluid in the Middle Ear Without an Ear Infection
Foods and environmental allergens that increase congestion often cause inflammation in the eustachian tubes and fluid build-up without an ear infection. Behaviors come and go depending on what was eaten. Do you have a child who seems more congested in the morning than later in the day? The reason this occurs is due to a younger child’s eustachian tubes being in a more horizontal position versus the more vertical position found in an older child.
Clues there might be inflammation:
Do you have a little one that wakes up at night, after a nap, or in the morning crying?
Does your little one pull on their ear or play with their ear, especially in the morning?
Is their speech unclear, difficult to understand?
Do they act like they can’t hear?
Do they say, “What?” or “I did not hear? Or “I can’t hear you.”
Is their behavior aggressive?
Lack of attention and hyperactivity are clues something is amiss.
Behavioral Effects when Eustachian Tubes are Inflamed
Swollen eustachian tubes cause hearing difficulties, decreased attention, and learning challenges. When the cause of inflammation is an unknown food intolerance or allergen, the swelling can linger for months. These issues are compounded when enlarged adenoids are blocking the eustachian tubes. Imagine having hearing difficulties and discomfort in your ear like you experience when traveling up a mountain for months and months. Chronic inflammation results in chronic, hidden, mild hearing loss that under-stimulates the brain. When the brain is under-stimulated, it disrupts the development of the auditory system within the brain.
At any age, our brain instinctively sends out signals. It is as if the brain is saying,
- “Move! I need you to be very active, hyperactive.”
- “Turn up the volume! I love that bass music.”
- “Talk more loudly so you can hear yourself and speak fluently.”
- “Keep your hands busy; I need the stimulation to listen.”
The Auditory-Visual Domino Effect
Eustachian tube inflammation with and without fluid build-up decreases the ability for sound to strongly stimulate the cochlea and thus the inner ear’s vestibular chambers. Understimulation of the visual system increases the risk of visual processing difficulties.
Movement, sounds, and sights are essential for brain development and maintaining excellent levels of brain activity. Hyperactivity helps the brain compensate. However, I think of the physical activity as a crutch. I have worked with teens and young adults who feel they have to exercise to turn on their brains. They have to fidget to listen. It is not a choice.
To properly process incoming stimulation, auditory-visual processing skills require both eyes and both ears to work strongly together. They must work together to integrate sights with sounds and create instinctive reactions.
Reduce Inflammation of the Eustachian Tubes: Formal Testing
I recommend formal testing if at all possible. It removes the risk of eliminating one food with more of another food that can actually be an allergen. For example, oats are a gluten-free food; however, I have had clients allergic to gluten and oats. Ask your family physician for testing or a referral to an allergist or ENT doctor.
Great Plains Laboratory has an antigen-specific IGG food sensitivity test that tests 199 foods and includes an evaluation of yeast and mold overgrowth in your body, a leaky gut. Great Plains Laboratory provides over-the-phone assistance helping you understand your test results and their recommendations.
“EnteroLab has developed a unique screening test for gluten sensitivity and other antigenic food sensitivities, which are more sensitive and specific than typical tests (U.S. and International patents issued). Their method utilizes stool rather than blood as the testing substrate; the rationale is that immunologic reactions to proteins in the diet cause reactions that are centered within the intestinal tract and not in the blood.
Reduce Inflammation of the Eustachian Tubes: An Elimination Diet
Do you mentally shut down when you hear the word, “diet?” If so, I challenge you to replace the word, diet, with the phrase, “elimination of undesirable behaviors.” An elimination diet helps you identify and remove food(s) from your diet for six weeks. I recommend starting by removing the top six foods that contribute to inflammation, one at a time. This is an overwhelming thought; I have been there. The good news is that we are here to help. I am teaming up with Steiger Family Farms who will share recipes and resources to help you achieve reduced inflammation by changing what you eat. I encourage you to remember that something is better than nothing. It takes about three weeks for inflammation in the body and brain to decrease enough for you to start seeing behavioral changes. My first recommendation is to make a plan.
Make a Plan
- Remove processed food from your diet where dairy and wheat ingredients hide
- Try to buy fresh or frozen organic products.
- Save money by planting a small garden above ground in boxes or in the ground
- Look at the recipes provided by Steiger Family Farms to decide what you would like to try
- Buy organic, milled gluten-free flour
- Buy a mill and grains to make flours full of amino acids, vitamins, and healthy oils
- Eliminate all 6 foods or start with milk and gluten
- Milk is associated with chronic congestion
- Gluten is associated with inflammation
You should remove foods that contribute to inflammation from your diet for at least a month to allow the inflammation to subside and the body to heal. Then, reintroduce one food at a time, about a week apart. When there are food sensitivities, the food triggering the symptoms may have to build up in the body before you see changes in behaviors or physical discomfort in the ears and GI system.
Slowly rotate the eliminated food back into your diet and watch for the return of any undesirable behaviors, such as decreased attention and hearing, irritability, waking up at night upset, stomach aches, diarrhea, brain fog or headaches, etc.
Your Gut and Your Brain
Your gut affects your brain, bone, teeth, and the health of your blood. The book, The Second Brain, helps you understand how much what you eat affects your brain; and thus, the body. Read Wheat Belly to learn how much an unknown food intolerance like gluten causes inflammation in the brain. Wheat Belly was written by a cardiologist, Dr. William Davis, who improved patient’s tachycardia, disruption of the heart’s rhythm, by taking his patients off gluten when he found no cause for their tachycardia. These patient’s heart rhythm improved often enough to get Dr. Davis’ attention. Wow! That is significant.
Think about how quickly caffeine and sugar affect you. Then think about the effects of chronic exposure to poor food choices or even unknown food allergies. Behaviors that fluctuate, come and go, are often caused by what was eaten the day before. Are a loved one’s behaviors, irritability, and angry outburst, the result of unknown food allergies or intolerances?