Do you suffer with constant bloating, headaches and fatigue? Perhaps you’re running to the loo every couple of hours or maybe not for days?
You may be suffering from food sensitivities.
Food sensitivities, or intolerances are very common. In fact, 1 in 5 people have what we call an IgG food intolerance.
A number of different factors can help to explain the increase in food allergies and intolerances. Firstly, modern diets consist of a lot of processed by-products and synthesised compounds which are as foreign to our genetics as they are devoid of nutritional benefit. Environmental toxins also play a role. Whilst our bodies have a natural capacity to process and eliminate toxins, those systems are now under immense pressure from the level of assault inflicted from modern-day life. Toxins have the ability to disrupt our delicate gut ecosystem and cause inflammation. They also act like fire and scorch our intestinal lining. Overuse of antibiotics and other medications are other contributing factors as they demolish our gut flora and wreak havoc on our immune systems and gut barrier integrity. The increased number of caesarean births, the sterility of food supply and even stress are all responsible too.
So what, you may be asking, is the difference between a food allergy and a food intolerance?
An IgE allergy response is a response by your immune system to something it perceives as foreign or harmful. These immediate reactions include anaphylaxis, hives, asthma and swelling. Usually this immune reaction caused by the production of immune molecules known as IgEs are not difficult to identify because the reaction occurs immediately after the ingestion of the offending food.
Delayed onset food reactions, otherwise known as food intolerances or sensitivities are more difficult to identify as the reaction is not immediate and occurs hours or even days after ingestion. It causes a similar immune molecule to form but the symptoms are far broader. These reactions are not life threatening and may or may not be present for life.
Symptoms to watch out for:
Food intolerances not only affect the digestive system but also most other systems in your body. It can also lead to “leaky gut” where your gut lining becomes porous, allowing foreign particles such as pathogens, bacteria, viruses and more to enter into your bloodstream. This can wreak havoc on your health and lead to a host of chronic diseases. Some of the symptoms you may experience if you have food intolerances include aches and pains, acid reflux, asthma, backpain, bloating, brain fog, candida or thrush, constipation and/or diarrhoea, fatigue, gas, headaches, joint pain, mood changes such as depression or anxiety, skin problems such as eczema, psoriasis or rashes, sinus or hayfever and weight gain or weight loss.
One way of determining whether you are reacting to certain foods is to go on an elimination diet for 6 weeks. This involves removing all common allergens, intolerances, additives, preservatives, salicylates and amines, before slowly reintroducing suspect foods to reveal any reactions. An easier and faster method of determining what foods you are reacting to is to do an IgG Food Intolerance test. This finger-prick blood test tests for intolerances to many different foods and can be done at home.
The most common foods that cause reactions include gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, corn, nuts and nightshade vegetables such as tomatoes, potatoes and eggplants.
Certain food chemicals have also been implicated in causing reactions including:
- Salicylates: cayenne, cinnamon, cumin, curry
- Amines: cheese, wine, chocolate, some meats, bananas, avocado, ferments
- Benzoates (which are natural components of foods) berries, tea, herbs, and spices
- Sulphites: canned and frozen fruits and vegetables, juices, cereals, crackers, dried fruits
- Others include a range of food additives which are used in food processing and preservation of foods.
After determining which foods are causing your symptoms whether through an elimination diet or testing, we aim to eliminate these foods for a period of time so we can focus on healing your gut, reinoculating your gut microbiome and supporting your immune system. It is a step-by-step process that involves herbal and nutritional supplements to repair the gut lining in order to build up tolerance and modulate the allergic response. It is so important that you address any food intolerances sooner rather than later- the longer you leave it, the more damage it can cause your gut and immune system, leading to further food intolerances and complications.