How to Tell If You Are Sensitive to Certain Foods

Good Decisions Recommends dairy only for those individuals who tolerate it. Some people do really well with dairy and it does not increase mucus or inflammation in the body. For those individuals, dairy is quite healthy and has many benefits to be enjoyed.
For other individuals, when they consume dairy mucus immediately builds in the throat and nose area indicating that inflammation is present and the body is reacting unfavorably to dairy. This may be enough proof for some people to avoid dairy. For others wanting a bit more scientific approach, the following test is a good way to test not only dairy, but any food that you suspect may be inflammatory for you.
Other foods I recommend testing are wheat, soy, genetically modified corn, and members of the nightshade family; potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes, and peppers, both the eye-watering chilies and the sweeter bell peppers.These can cause severe and painful arthritis like symptoms in some people.

Coca’s Pulse Test

The Coco pulse-dietary method is simple. It was devised by Arthur F. Coca, M.D., and is discussed in detail in his book: The Pulse Test. Coca’s Pulse Tests are extremely useful and simple tools for at-home allergy detection. Many of my clients have succeeded at using this approach without supervision. Coca’s test works on this simple premise that pulse elevations are caused by any allergic reaction. If you know what your base pulse rate is, you can isolate an offending food or substance and eliminate it. It tests isolated foods in order to tell which ones accelerate the pulse. In order to test for food allergies, the diet must be restricted for at least 3 days and your pulse must be accurately taken at specific intervals during the testing period.
The test is based on measurement of the resting pulse rate, something most people have no difficulty learning how to do. The resting rate is how fast the heart beats after a person has been sitting still, comfortably relaxing for three to five minutes. When a person is active the heart beats faster than the resting rate. Those who cannot readily find their own pulse on their wrist or throat can inexpensively purchase a digital watch that gives a pulse reading; this kind of watch is used by athletes to make sure their training pulse is in an acceptable range.

Why do the pulse test?

It is estimated that 35 million Americans, alone, have some type of allergy. There are nitrates in our meat products, additives and preservatives in our canned goods, un-soaked grains contain phytic acid that can wreak havoc on our digestive tracts and processed dairy that may contain a host of growth hormones and antibiotics. It is no wonder our bodies are rebelling and giving us problems. Pain and discomfort is the bodies way of telling us something is wrong. Unfortunately we have not been taught how to listen to it when it complains. With the pulse test, not only will you lear how to be more in tune with your body it gives you a direct feedback loop that lets you know when you have consumed something you may be allergic to.

What is an allergy?

An Allergy is a hypersensitivity disorder of the immune system. Allergic reactions occur to normally harmless environmental substances known as allergens. It is characterized by excessive activation of certain white blood cells called mast cells and basophils by a type of antibody known as IgE, resulting in an extreme inflammatory response. Common allergic reactions include eczema, hives, hay fever, asthma attacks and food allergies. In other words allergies are the body’s way of saying, “I don’t like that substance.” But Allergies no longer just manifest as hay fever or asthma or an outbreak of hives, it can manifest as high blood pressure, constipation, fatigue, headaches, mental depression, and more.

So what are the symptoms of having an allergy?

There are many symptoms that manifest in various ways throughout the body.

  • Digestive (after eating) symptoms: Dry mouth, stomach ulcers, canker sores, excessive tiredness, palpitations, swelled stomach, gasiness, bloating, sweating, mental fuzziness, stinging tongue, metallic taste, heartburn, indigestion, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, food cravings,


  • Muscular and skeletal symptoms: Arthritis; aches in neck, back, or shoulders; fatigue; spasms; joint pain.


  • Respiratory and throat symptoms: Cough, asthma, frequent colds, postnasal drip, wheezing, hay fever, nosebleeds, chest tightness, hoarseness, shortness of breath, dry or sore throat.


  • Nervous symptoms: Tachycardia (fast heart rate), palpitations, depression, anger, anxiety, confusion, irritability, hyperactivity, restlessness, learning and memory problems.


  • Skin symptoms: Blotches, acne, flushing, hives, dark circles under eyes, itching, eczema, psoriasis.

The beat of your heart can reveal many things to you. Chinese medicine has evaluated the pulse for thousands of years. If your pulse is erratic, beating in your chest like an African drum or just barely discernable, it is your body’s way of trying to tell you something. I love it that Dr. Coco suggests that you shouldn’t wear your heart on your sleeve, but you should get acquainted with it by feeling your pulse beneath your sleeve.

Getting Started

It is necessary to eliminate any potential food allergens in order to establish your normal base pulse rate. This is the base pulse rate at which you will determine if a food is an allergen for you or not. This requires the application of discipline for a few days before testing begins. Some people will start out eating many foods and eliminate them one by one. I find it easier to start out with proteins you normally do not consume, and certain fruits vegetables and test foods as they are brought back in. When you are on The No Sugar Challenge it is the perfect time to test certain foods as you are already on a very hypoallergenic eating plan.
In preparation, exclude all milk, egg, nuts, wheat, soy, protein, corn, starchy vegetables, grains, sugar, coffee, alcohol and citrus fruits for the first 3-5 days. Some people react to potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes, and peppers. You will bring them back into your diet one by one as you test each food to determine if it an allergen to your body or not. We have included a 3 day menu plan to help you navigate this period of time.
If you are vegetarian or vegan, incorporate more fruit and vegetables in the following plan. If you don’t do well with raw vegetables steam them. If you enjoy more animal proteins incorporate more wild salmon, turkey, venison, and other game meats.

Your Three Day Hypoallergenic Menu Plan

Day 1
Breakfast: Papaya Slices
Snack: celery and 2 glasses of water
Lunch: Leafy green salad with olive oil and lemon dressing
Snack: carrots
Dinner: Steamed Asparagus and baked wild salmon with lemon. Make enough for leftovers so you don’t have to cook lunch tomorrow.
Snack: Handful of berries
Day 2
First thing in the morning, drink 2 glasses of water
Breakfast: Brown rice porridge with apples and cinnamon
Snack: apple
Lunch: Leftover salmon from yesterday’s dinner.
Snack: avocado, glass of water or herbal tea
Dinner: Roast turkey with green beans. Make enough for leftovers.
Day 3
First thing in the morning, drink 2 glasses of water
Breakfast: sliced cantaloup
Snack: cucumber slices
Lunch: Roast turkey leftovers
Snack: 2 glasses of water
Dinner: Lamb or wild game with broccolii

How to do the pulse test

The pulse can be felt in many spots and the rate at any moment is the same in all of them. Begin by placing your finger on an artery, somewhere on your body that you can easily feel. Some people can feel their pulse easily at the inside of the wrist, I find it is easier to feel the pulse on the upper front side of my neck, at the carotid artery. Have a stopwatch in your other hand and time the beats for one minute.

Finding your base pulse rate and your maximum pulse rate:

1. Take your pulse before rising from bed first thing in the morning, laying down before you even get up for a full minute. This is your base pulse rate.
2. Take your pulse again before each meal, after each meal in 30, 60, and 90 minute intervals and before bed in the evening. All counts should be taken after sitting still, comfortably relaxing for three to five minutes.
3. The highest pulse rate of the day is your maximum pulse rate.
You will be taking your pulse 14 times a day. This is an important part in getting to know your base pulse rate and maximum pulse rate. Once you have done this and become familiar with your pulse, it will be easy to determine which foods your body is allergic to by how much your pulse elevates after eating it. As a rule, if at least 14 pulse-counts are being made each day, and if your daily maximal pulse-rate is constant (within one or two beats) for three days in succession, this indicates that all “food-allergens” have been avoided on those days.

What is a normal rate?

That can’t be figured out until after you have avoided all allergens for at least 3 days this includes tobacco, dust, perfumes etc. Everyone is different, because of this there is no normal rate, only what is normal for you. When you have taken your pulse 14 times a day and your daily maximum pulse-rate is constant (within one or two beats) for 3 days in a row, this indicates that all “food-allergens” have been avoided and you can be confidant that you have found your normal base pulse rate and maximum pulse rate.

Pulse Log

Morning Pulse Rate Laying in Bed Upon Waking ________
Pre-Breakfast Pulse Rate __________
Breakfast foods eaten:
30 min. Post-Breakfast Pulse Rate ________
60 min. Post Breakfast Pulse Rate ________
90 min. Post Breakfast Pulse Rate ________
Pre-Lunch Pulse Rate ________
Lunch foods eaten:
30 min. Post-Lunch Pulse Rate ________
60 min. Post Lunch Pulse Rate ________
90 min. Post Lunch Pulse Rate ________
Pre-Dinner pulse Rate ________
Dinner foods eaten:
30 min. Post-Dinner Pulse Rate ________
60 min. Post Dinner Pulse Rate ________
90 min. Post Dinner Pulse Rate ________
Before bed Pulse Rate ________
Maximum pulse rate for the day ________
Foods to avoid:
Notes regarding mood, gassiness bloating headaches mental clarity etc:

How to test a food

Now that you have determined your base pulse rate and avoided all food allergens for 3-5 days it is time to test your first food. On a day you wish to test a food, each “meal” must be limited to a single simple food. For instance, let’s say your pulse has remained constant for 3 days, and you have consumed only organic fish chicken and vegetables. You want to test eggs to see how your body reacts. Count your pulse before rising, and again just before your first meal.
Eat only eggs for your meal with nothing added, thirty minutes after the meal the pulse is taken again. If the egg causes no acceleration of your pulse, (at least 6 points above your base rate), that food can be tentatively considered non allergic for you. Take your pulse again 60 minutes after the meal. If it still has not elevated, eggs can be brought back into your diet and monitored for the next couple of days. If your pulse elevates more than 12 beats above the resting rate you found upon arising that morning, you may assume that the egg is an allergen. Eliminate that food for a month or two and retest it at a later date. Often foods that test as an allergen if avoided for a period can be brought backing occasionally without problems later. You may be tempted to eat a variety of food at one meal, do not do this in the beginning as it will be difficult to identify the food or foods that cause the elevation.
Keep a record of the foods you test and track your progress. Eventually you will know your body, what it likes and what it doesn’t. All injurious foods are recognized by the abnormal speed-up of the pulse indicating that that food is stressful to your body. When these foods are dropped from the diet the allergic symptoms often disappear.

How many foods can be tested in one day?

Allergic reactions can go on for several days after a food has been eaten and if you are having a reaction to something eaten many hours or several days previously, it may obscure a reaction to a food just eaten. Therefore test only one food every 2-3 days.

General Rules


  • If at least 14 pulse-counts are being made each day, and if your daily maximal pulse-rate is constant (within one or two beats) for three days in succession, this indicates that all “food-allergens” have been avoided on those days.
  • If the ingestion of a frequently eaten food causes no acceleration of your pulse, (at least 6 points above your estimated normal maximum), that food can be tentatively considered non allergic for you.
  • A count greater than 84 at any time, indicates your body is reacting to an allergen of some kind.
  • If the maximal pulse rate varies more than 2 beats from day to day for example, Monday 72 Tuesday 78, Wednesday 76, Thursday 71, you are certainly allergic, provided there is no infection.
  • Stop smoking entirely for at least five days before you do a cigarette test; allergies to cigarettes can take five days to clear.

Dr. Coco was Medical Director of Lederle Laboratories for 17 years, one of the largest pharmaceutical house in the world. He was Honorary President of the American Association of Immunologists and the founder and first editor of the Journal of Immunology. He taught at Cornell, Heidelberg, the University of Pennsylvania and the Post-Graduate Medical School at Columbia University.

Why do we crave foods we are allergic to?

It is not clear why we crave foods to which we are sensitive. Some researchers suggest that our bodies may become addicted to chemical messengers such as histamine or cortisol which are secreted by immune cells in response to allergens in the body. It is also thought that eating foods that we may be allergic to can cause a rash or sneezing, in response, the body also may experience a soothing response from the presence of the chemical messengers which may increase the desire to eat more of that food.
Giving in to food cravings and consuming foods we may be allergic to gives us only short term pleasure. Good Decisions Most of the Time recommends avoiding refined sugars, wheat, soy, genetically modified corn, processed foods, fast food, and refined foods. The No Sugar Challenge is an elimination diet of sorts, designed to get you off of the roller coaster ride of cravings and calm certain allergic reactions as well.

Bringing in Dairy

There are healthy dairy choices and unhealthy dairy choices. Most milk products tend to be mucus producing. Some people have a low tolerance of milk because they lack intestinal lactase an enzyme that digests lactose, or milk sugar. In addition, some people are allergic to a milk protein called casein, which is one of the more difficult proteins for the body to digest. If you test milk and it is an allergen for you, it is wise to avoid milk and milk products. If you do well with dairy you may use these healthful items in small amounts.
Choose wisely from this group and don’t fall for the low fat items touted over the last 20 or more years. Contrary to what most people believe there are more nutrients in organic whole fat milk products such as fat soluble vitamins A,D,E and K, protein and healthy fats. Not all fats are bad. Not to mention whole fat products are more satiating and therefore won’t leave you hungry. Always choose organic, grass fed, whole fat plain varieties.
Among nutritional therapists there is much controversy over milk consumption, some say it is good and some say to avoid it. Looking back in time there are many societies dating back over 8,000 years that have depended on the raw milk of cattle, sheep, goats and camels for their protein and fat. The practice of fermenting or souring milk is found in all traditional groups that keep herds. This process utilizes enzymes to partially break down lactose and predigest casein. The end products such as yoghurt, kefir and clabber can often be tolerated by adults that cannot drink fresh milk. Butter and cream contain little lactose and casein and are usually tolerated by those who are lactose intolerant. Those with extreme intolerance of milk protein may consume gee (clarified butter) a product in which the milk solids have been removed.
I am a proponent of raw milk products because they contain life giving enzymes, probiotics, proteins and fats that our ancestors enjoyed as nature intended, untampered with by man. I know what you are thinking, really? Raw you say? Yes! It is so good for you! Not to mention delicious. In many states you can now buy raw milk on the farm and in stores. Today we have access to so many healthy foods just by searching the internet. Do a google search by typing in raw milk and the name of your city and you will find many options and locations for you to obtain raw milk. There is a raw milk movement started by the Weston A. Price Foundation that has made huge strides toward getting raw milk on our grocery shelves. Visit their website at to get involved or find a chapter near you.
I have enjoyed raw milk products since 2002 and have never been sick or had any issues, only improved health. I would highly recommend trying raw milk and doing your own research into this healthy food. Everyone must make their own choice and follow what resonates and feels right to them, if you are not comfortable consuming raw dairy products limit your consumption of milk products to organic cultured milk, cultured buttermilk, whole milk yoghurt, butter, cream and raw cheese. These products are the most nutritious and contain high levels of enzymes and probiotics.
The type of milk you choose is up to you, whichever you choose raw or pasteurized/homogenized, be sure that it is organic, free of traces of growth hormones and antibiotics. We are larger than we have ever been, obesity is rampant and many people wonder if there is a connection to the amount of growth hormones in our dairy and meat products. I don’t know about you, but I’m large enough already, I don’t need any growth hormones.

A Word of Caution about Milk Substitutes

Soy milk
Soybeans are high in natural toxins known as “antinutrients”.  This includes a large quantity of inhibitors that deter the enzymes needed for protein digestion. Ironic considering the soy bean is valued for its protein content. In an effort to remove the antinutrients from soy, soybeans are taken through a series of chemical processes including acid washing in aluminum tanks, which puts a toxic heavy metal, into the final soy products.  Many soy foods also have toxic levels of manganese.  Furthermore, these enzyme inhibitors are not entirely disabled during ordinary cooking.
For human consumption, soybeans must be cooked with “wet” heat in order to destroy the trypsin inhibitors (serine protease inhibitors) and fermented to reduce the mineral-blocking effects of phytates. Raw soybeans, including the immature green form, are actually toxic to humans. Soybeans also contain hemaglutinin, which causes red blood cells to clump together and growth depressant substances. And while these substances are reduced in processing, they are not completely eliminated. If that isn’t enough to deter you from soy milk or soy pruducts, soy also contains goitrogens, which frequently lead to depressed thyroid function a common occurance amoung women today. Soybeans are also genetically modified, and they contain one of the highest levels of pesticide contamination of all foods. Soy Milk is not considered a Good Decision and should be avoided. If you do choose to utilize soy, choose from the recommended products that are fermented as our ancestors have done throughout history such as Natto, Amakaze, Miso and Tempeh.
Almond milk, Hemp milk, Rice milk and Coconut milk
These beverages often contain gums such as carrageenan, or “natural flavors” that are no where near natural as well as a multitude of synthetic vitamins and minerals. Manufacturers are on the right track, providing us with what they consider to be healthy alternatives but they are not quite ready to be called healthy alternatives quite yet. Carrageenan is a common food additive that comes from red seaweed also known as Irish Moss or Chondrus Crispus. Carrageen has long been used as a thickener in ice cream, yogurt, cottage cheese and other processed food products, including almond milk, rice milk, soy milk and coconut milk beverages.
The Joint FAO/WHO expert committee on food additives stated that, “based on the information available, it is inadvisable to use carrageenan in infant formulas” If it is not safe to use on infants, we might be wise to avoid it also.
There is also evidence from studies performed on rats, guinea pigs, and monkeys that indicates that degraded carrageenan (poligeenan) may cause ulcerations in the gastro-intestinal tract and gastro-intestinal cancer. Poligeenan is produced from carrageenan subjected to high temperatures and acidity. Concerns about carrageenan have centered on the “degraded” type which is distinguished from the “undegraded” type by its lower molecular weight. Most of the studies linking carrageenan to cancer and other gastrointestinal disorders have focused on degraded carrageenan. But Dr. Tobacman an assistant professor of clinical internal medicine at the University of Iowa College of Medicine, thinks that undegraded carrageenan – the kind most widely used as a food additive – might also be associated with malignancies and other stomach problems. She suggests that such factors as bacterial action, stomach acid and food preparation may transform undegraded carrageenan into the more dangerous degraded type. Dr. Tobacman’s findings were published in the October 2001 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives, a publication of the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), a branch of the National Institutes of Health.
I recommend avoiding consumption of products containing carrageenan.
So there you have it! Have fun testing, and tell me in the comment section below what you found!