A lot of people are suddenly claiming to have food allergies or sensitivities. Do you ever wonder why?
I work in public school. Every year the list of students with life threatening food allergies grows bigger! When I was a kid, I knew only two people with food allergies the entire time I was growing up. (Some studies confirming the increase in food allergies, here and here.)
There are some theories on what’s behind the increase:
1. The introduction of GMO’s into our food-These non-foods could be causing our bodies to treat them as foreign invaders, triggering an overreaction of the immune system.
2. Poor digestion and leaky gut- If our digestive system doesn’t break down our food properly, some makes it into our bloodstream undigested. Our bodies don’t recognize these larger particles as food! Once again, our bodies treat the food as a foreign substance and the immune system overreacts. (See What Does My Belly Have to Do with My Brain?)
3. Improper preparation of foods- People in traditional cultures ate real, whole foods. They also prepared their foods in ways that made them more digestible, and neutralized anti nutrients. The food we’re eating today can deplete the body of nutrients and aggravate the digestive system. (Ancestral preparation of foods: fermented foods, traditionally prepared sourdough, soaked grains)
4. Pesticides and chemicals in food- Maybe we’re having reactions to the non-food substances in the food?
I think all of these theories have some truth to them. But whatever the reason, what’s the big deal about eating foods that your body is having a reaction to? Beyond the obvious hives and anaphylactic reactions that some people have.
When you expose yourself to the foods you react to, this is what happens:
1. The continuous inflammatory response to the foods causes your adrenals to produce cortisol in response to the inflammation. This will cause your adrenals to be depleted. If you have adrenal fatigue, it’s likely that you’re reacting to a food (or multiple foods).
2. It causes too many immune responses that could be avoided. This means you will have constant inflammation in your body. Some inflammation is appropriate and necessary, but too much has dire consequences. Too much inflammation is related to a LONG list of diseases. Depression, Bipolar disorder, autism, dementia, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, IBS, and autoimmune disorders are a few of the diseases that are associated with chronic inflammation. That’s huge!
Removing foods that you’re sensitive to is essential to the health of your whole body. (I also recommend improving digestion and detoxification.)
You can find out which foods you react to in a few different ways. None of the ways are perfect, but you have to start somewhere 🙂
1. Elimination diet- Remove common allergens from your diet and add them back in one at a time. Pay close attention when you add them back in! The most common food allergens are dairy, gluten containing grains, eggs, soy, corn, tree nuts, peanuts, and shellfish. I know this is a pain, but it can be life changing. It’s also the most reliable way to find out what’s making you sick.
2. Blood tests that test for IgE, IgG, and IgA- IgE is the immediate immune response that everyone recognizes: hives, rashes, swelling, or respiratory problems. IgG and IgA can have a delayed reaction. These tests aren’t perfect. You may end up showing that you don’t react to things you obviously react to. Or they may say you have a whole bunch of reactions because your immune and digestive systems are over reacting.
3. The Coca Pulse Test- This one is practiced only in alternative medicine circles. But it’s free :). You take your pulse after eating a meal to narrow down what your body may be reacting to. Then, when you suspect a certain food may be raising your heart rate, you take your pulse using only that food. This is an indicator of a food reaction because when you eat something that inflames your body, your adrenals will produce hormones to reduce the inflammation. The adrenal hormones also raise your heart rate. Using this test, I accidentally found out I had a reaction to green beans. Weird! But I felt better when I stopped eating them.
Here’s an article on Coca Pulse Testing to explain it further.
I hope this helps people to understand that the whole food sensitivity thing is a big deal!
And remember, if you discover food sensitivities, it’s not as big a deal to eliminate them as you think it is. A lot of people are eating this way. Google is your best friend :).
This post was shared on Healing with Food Friday.