Wednesday, 16 January 2008

What Do You Know About Your 'Phils'?

A Little Bloody Knowledge Goes A Long Way:

What Do You Know About Your 'Phils'?

When you have your blood checked (CBC - complete blood count), are you aware of your 'phil levels?

(WebMD explains what's involved in a CBC.)

Do you know why they're important?

For people with food sensitivities, "phil" levels can help you to figure out how well you're doing with your diet.

What are "phils"? It's a short term that we came up with when I began teaching my kids to read their medical reports. It encompasses a few fighter cells (associated with initial general immune response) including:

eosinophils (often related to breathing issues like allergies and/or asthma);

basophils (often related to allergies and IgE levels);

neutrophils (often related to bacterial infections)

How much do you *need* to know about them?

Well, just a little... not a lot really... for the sake of having a relatively intelligent discussion with your physician... if they are elevated (more common - very generally speaking) or low (less common).

Why are they so important to us (as people with food sensitivities)?

Because they *can* (if eosinophil levels are high) be an indicator that your diet is not being controlled well enough.

What happens if they remain high?

Well, these are fighter cells, so they will continue to 'do battle'. And where there is war, there is damage to the ground that the war is being played out on.

Extended tissue damage is something to be concerned about as, like a cut that can get infected, the tissue damage can lead to other complications. If tissue damage is extensive enough for a long enough period of time, then the tissue may never heal.

An example of tissue damage that won't heal would be refractory sprue that can be associated with untreated (read: diet not controlled) celiac disease.

Now, I don't mean to confuse issues because, as far as is known presently, phils are not used as celiac indicators. However, when a gut is damaged, two things *may* be considered:

The diet is not well enough controlled (not gluten free enough) and
therefore immunologically compromised. This means that the body doesn't
have the wherewithal to fight off viruses. (This is what happened to my

So because the gut is damaged, the body for some reason, can't handle simple viruses very effectively and begins to lose viral battles that should be easily 'won'.

The second scenario is that there are other foods that the body is reacting
to besides gluten, which means that either:

1) It is an additional sensitivity that may never be 'outgrown'. (like a casein - read dairy - sensitivity - my daughter deal with this more obviously than my son, even though he was the child that was clearly 'ill' and why we began this journey into the realm of food impact and exploration)

2) It is an additional sensitivity that exists only because the gut is not yet healed. Therefore these foods are causing extra reactions from the body and need to be eliminated only until healing takes place.

(This happened to my son with nightshades and the lily family... after about a year of healing, he seemed to be able to tolerate them just fine. And now his e. levels are good, which helps me to relax more about letting them back into his diet. Although at this point, though you might all realize that I am *very* pro rotation, meaning we *try* to allow any food into our diet only twice a week... so that if an 'e' reaction is occurring, it is hopeful that the downtime between ingestions of the offending food will be conducive to any tissue healing that *may* need to take place. )

I quite realize that this may all seem a bit like a different language at the beginning. But for people dealing with celiac and/or multiple sensitivities, having this knowledge can mean 1) getting down to business and getting your diet under control; or 2) realizing that 'hey' I'm doing a pretty good job with my diet because my 'phil levels' are improving or becoming a 'non-issue'.

I really like being at number two with my son now because it's just one less thing for me to lose sleep over. ;)

Kind regards,

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