-by Melissa Hill, FDN-P | 03/08/2017 |
Did you know food sensitivities could be affecting your health daily, and hindering your ability to lose weight? Food sensitivities are more and more common these days. If you haven’t already experienced them yourself, you probably know someone dealing with them. For many people, myself included, figuring them out makes all the difference to their health. I know it did for me – even though I thought I ate ‘healthier’ than anyone I knew. Yet I was struggling with poor energy levels throughout the day and had trouble getting through workouts. I was having rashes on my skin and bouts of patches of hair loss on my head. All of these things resolved when I figured out what foods I was sensitive to – essentially the foods my body was having an immune response to or responding to in an inflammatory way. Understanding this process gave me insight into what was going on inside my body at a deeper level than just the surface symptoms I was experiencing. This put me in touch with my body: getting me to look deeper and realize the multitude of imbalances that lead the way for me to develop the food sensitivities. Eating the wrong foods for me (even though they were considered ’healthy’), exposure to pesticides and GMO foods that had damaged and put out of balance the microbiome of my gut. The bacterial imbalance set me up for infections from unfriendly bacteria, parasites, and yeast, which caused further damage to my gut lining. Top that off with some big life stressors, and I was in a perfect storm for intestinal permeability to occur and the autoimmune process to begin, sending a cascade of ’symptoms’ that finally got my attention.
Now not everyone with food sensitivities will experience the same thing because we are each unique and there is no one size fits all diet for everyone. We each have different dietary needs and challenges. Just because a food is ‘healthy’ does not mean that it is good for you in particular. There is a difference between eating ‘well’ and eating right for your body. Having said this, the most common food triggers are gluten, dairy, corn, soy, and eggs – however, any food, even seemingly healthy foods like spinach, quinoa, apples, or turkey, for example, could be something you have developed a sensitivity to. These food sensitivities can be at the root of your weight gain, depression, anxiety, fatigue, joint pain, headaches, brain fog, eczema, fungal and yeast infections, bowel disturbances, and any other inflammatory condition in your body.
To better understand how this process occurs, you need a basic idea of how our digestive system is set up in form and function. The lining of our intestines, or gut, is set up as a barrier between the outside world and our inside world. Just outside the lining of our intestines sits our immune system, waiting like border patrol to make sure what we ingested is safe for our body and ready to attack any potential intruders. This is a great, useful system – if everything is in working order. The problem comes when there has been damage to the lining of our gut, sometimes called leaky gut, or intestinal permeability. This damage occurs from exposure to chemicals in our environment, pesticides, GMO foods, artificial sweeteners, processed foods, alcohol, pharmaceutical and OTC drugs, and eating the wrong foods for our body. Because of our environment today, virtually everyone is exposed to some toxic substances. Once your intestinal barrier is damaged holes develop between the cells that undigested food particles can get through. The immune system identifies these large pieces of food particles as foreign invaders – they aren’t supposed to be there, after all! This signals an immune response on them and areas of inflammation begin to develop as the immune cells track these food particles through the blood stream. Essentially, leaky gut equals food sensitivities and consequently inflammation somewhere in your body.
Removing my food triggers allowed my internal fires of inflammation to calm down, and then I could begin to heal my gut and, most importantly, learn to recognize my stress response triggers that were pushing me off balance. All of this gave me a greater understanding of how my body was working and responding to the world and what I needed to do to bring myself back into balance so I could take back control of my health.
I have seen this time and time again, first with myself and then with all the clients I have worked with since. Determining your individual food triggers is absolutely key to achieving your health goals -- whatever they might be. Food is a critical element for our health. It is one thing we encounter and interact with day after day. Finding out what foods work for you -- which foods your body responds well to -- is crucial. Some people shrug off the idea of food sensitivities or having the testing done, mostly because they don’t want to be told they ’can’t’ eat something – especially one of their favorite foods. But this is not a life sentence. Determining your food sensitivities gives you a snapshot of the current situation in your body. And with this information, you are empowered to make the best choices for yourself. This information is a game changer: instead of going on eating blindly or following along the latest fad diet, you can find out exactly which foods are causing inflammation in your body and sabotaging your health.
Of course, once you figure this out and remove the triggering foods for a while, then you can work on healing your gut through repairing the damage from years of bad foods and toxic exposures, rebooting your digestive strength, and in most cases, adding the foods back in if you choose.
If you are struggling with a health challenge, I encourage you to consider getting your food sensitivities tested. Empower yourself with information.
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