What are food sensitivities and how are they different from allergies? Allergies create a histamine reaction that leads to symptoms like itchy eyes, throat, or skin, trouble breathing, rash, etc. Food sensitivities or intolerance can be more difficult to recognize because the symptoms aren’t isolated to digestion.
What if by staying away from dairy, your teenager could be free of acne? Or by skipping the eggs for breakfast, your emotional and spacey pre-teen would be a calm and attentive student?
Colic, hyperactivity, insomnia, chronic ear infections, chronic yeast infections or rashes, skin disorders, brain fog, headache, joint pain, and not to mention all of the digestive disorders are just some of the possible symptoms of food sensitivities. I’m not saying that all problems are food related, but so many are.
When undigested proteins from a food enter the bloodstream, the body treats that protein like an enemy and attacks it, creating antibodies against that protein. But how does a protein get into the blood? In recent years, the role of bacteria and yeast in the gut (stomach & intestines) has been getting its due. At the root of all digestive disorders is an imbalance of the beneficial (good) bacteria and yeast to harmful (bad) bacteria and yeast.
The average diet consists of mostly cooked and sterilized food, high in refined carbohydrates. This is the perfect diet for feeding a colony of destructive yeast and bacteria. The yeast and bacteria produce acids as they metabolize sugar and grow in the gut. This creates perforations in the lining of the intestines allowing proteins that normally would be too big to enter the bloodstream to leak through (leaky gut syndrome). Beneficial bacteria control the harmful ones and keep the gut healthy and intact. A diet that includes raw vegetables, raw dairy products, cultured foods, bone broth, moderate use of healthy unprocessed meats, sprouted whole grains & minimal use of refined carbs will help tip the balance of gut flora toward the good.
Once we understand what is happening in our gut, we can be proactive about healing it. In the meantime, it can feel like we’re fighting an invisible enemy. Unfortunately, medical professionals rarely connect symptoms to foods, so the burden of listening to our body is ours. The discovery process can be the hardest part of the journey. If you can afford to have a good blood panel done, it makes the process that much easier, but that is not the only way.
I used a process of elimination and a food journal to discover the offending foods. Here’s what I did – I wrote down everything I ate (sometimes hidden ingredients in prepared foods can make this harder, so simplify your diet as much as possible, know what you’re eating). Make notes about how you feel after eating (I was doing this for my babies who were nursing, so I was looking for their symptoms). Some symptoms won’t show up right away. You will start to see a pattern. I removed a suspect food (in all forms) from my diet for a week. Then ate that food on its own to test it. Using this method, I was able to discover the foods that were making my nursing babies into colicky insomniacs. Symptoms in babies change into different symptoms in children and adults. So my daughter who had colic from dairy, gets acne if she has it now. My son who had colic from dairy and eggs, gets brain fog, extra emotional, restlessness and insomnia from them now.
The great news is that our guts can heal!
There are diets that focus on healing the gut such as the GAPS diet. And probiotics abound these days. However, for some of us that a particular food just doesn’t agree with, we may not be able to comfortably add that food back into our diet. But staying away from offending foods and working towards healthy gut flora puts us on the right road to healing!
A great resource for you to get even more information about food sensitivities is the World’s Healthiest Foods.
Disclaimer: For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.