Do the foods you love, love you back? You May Think You Would Know If You Had Food Sensitivities Just because you don’t experience negative symptoms when you eat a particular food doesn’t mean it might not be causing problems behind the scenes. Food sensitivities can be tricky to detect. They are different than food allergies and food intolerances. And they might be affecting you more than you realize!
Food allergies are hard to ignore. When you eat a food you are allergic to, your body has an exaggerated immune response called an IgE response. This antibody response is typically immediate and noticeable. Symptoms may vary but often include hives, rash, itchy throat, difficulty breathing, or anaphylaxis. Food allergy symptoms appear within a few hours of exposure, most often immediately, and the most severe food allergy reactions can be life-threatening.
A food intolerance is a digestive system response to a particular food. Typically, this is due to the lack of specific enzymes required to break down a food fully. The most widely recognized example of food intolerance is lactose intolerance. We need lactase to break down lactose; if we don’t produce enough of this enzyme, we will have a digestive tract reaction to lactose. The response is typically experienced directly after eating dairy and is contained in the digestive system (bloating, gas, etc.). Like a food allergy, the almost immediate response to the food makes it easy to identify which foods cause the problem. Food intolerances can be uncomfortable and sometimes embarrassing but are not life-threatening.
But food sensitivities can be sneaky!
Food sensitivities are also related to an immune response. But unlike allergies, these responses can take up to 72 hours to occur. And unlike intolerances, the symptoms are not limited to the digestive system. Food sensitivities drive systemic inflammation and can affect any body system. Any range of symptoms, including, but not limited to, headaches, crankiness, anxiety, eczema, acne, aches, pains, and fatigue, can result from food sensitivities. Unchecked food sensitivities can ultimately result in chronic health conditions. Food sensitivities are a result of a leaky gut.
What is Leaky Gut?
The human gut is selectively permeable. The gut lining is made up of “tight junctions.” Think of a brick wall. Tiny particles, micronutrients, are supposed to be able to pass directly through the gut lining and into the body. When those junctions loosen up, “leaky gut” or intestinal hyperpermeability occurs. This allows larger particles and proteins to pass directly into the bloodstream without being digested, opening the door for food sensitivities.
Several factors can contribute to leaky gut. Diet is the most common influencing factor. We now know that eating gluten causes the release of Zonulin. This protein can break apart tight junctions, directly leading to leaky gut. Diets containing processed foods and other inflammatory foods such as grains, dairy, sugar, and alcohol also contribute to leaky gut. Chronic stress, infections, and toxin exposure are other factors that affect the gut barrier. Toxin exposure includes environmental toxins like plastics and common medications like NSAIDs, antibiotics, and acid reducers.
Why Should We Care?
When our gut barrier is compromised, bigger particles directly enter the bloodstream. The body then sounds the alarm and mounts an immune response to handle the invasion. If this happened one time, it would be great! But once we have leaky gut, food proteins are constantly getting into the bloodstream, and this immune response is continuous. Our immune system continuously targeting these food proteins to protect us leads to food sensitivities. This continued process creates inflammation throughout the body or systemic inflammation. The effect throughout the body explains why eating a food that you’re sensitive to may cause ambiguous or complex symptoms. Perhaps that apple is causing a migraine two days later. Or maybe the chicken is exacerbating anxiety. And this is the best-case scenario.
Often, this systemic inflammation makes it extremely difficult to lose weight, even if eating a healthy diet. Because food sensitivities can occur with any food, it is often the case that nutrient-dense foods become a problem too. It can be super frustrating when consistent effort has been made to eliminate all processed and inflammatory foods, and the extra weight still won’t come off. Could your spinach be the culprit?
Food Sensitivities and Autoimmunity
When this process continues to occur, the body is constantly sending a response. This can lead to full-blown autoimmunity. The army gets fatigued and less precise, and our tissue cells get hit as the attack gets sloppy. There is also a process called molecular mimicry, where specific food proteins look very similar to our tissue, which causes the body to attack that tissue. Both situations can lead to autoimmune disease.
What To Do
- Remove the insulting foods. Identify food sensitivities through testing and temporarily remove the foods you are sensitive to during an elimination diet.
- Reinforce digestive enzymes to break down your food proteins more completely.
- Restore the gut lining with comprehensive gut healing supplements and collagen.
- Rebalance your microbiome with probiotics.
Simply avoiding the foods you are sensitive to, without healing the gut, will lead you to accumulate more sensitivities as time goes on. It becomes a snowball effect.
If you have any signs of systemic inflammation, from carrying extra weight to diagnosed autoimmunity, consider hidden food sensitivities a possible driver.
As the father of medicine, Hippocrates, said: “all disease begins in the gut.” It has taken a couple of millennia, but we have finally proven he was right.
Gut Lover’s (Almost) Flourless Chocolate Cake – Oh So Easy!
- 7 oz Quality Dark Chocolate Chips
- 7oz Grass Fed Unsalted Butter -cut into cubes
- 1 Cup Maple Sugar
- 5 Pastured Eggs
- 1 TB Cassava Flour
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a piece of unbleached parchment paper and insert it into an 8” spring pan (or cake pan).
Melt the chocolate and butter together in a double boiler, stirring regularly. Stir in the sugar and remove from heat to cool for a few minutes. Beat one egg at a time and add to the mixture, stirring well to combine. Add in flour and stir until smooth.
Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake and bake for 25 minutes (or more), until slightly jiggly in the center only. Check the cake every few minutes.
Remove from oven and cool on a rack. Once cool enough to handle, release from the pan, and continue to cool.
Serve with berries, and or whipped coconut cream. For more information on food sensitivity testing or to
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