Food Intolerances... let's get started.
Updated: Jan 1
A while back, on the Great Book of Faces, folks asked for more information on how to screen for food intolerances. So here is a little light reading for y'all on the topic. Also Cornell made us bison/beef sausage!!! Because he is my hero, and a rock star, and pretty much His Greatness the Ultimate Supreme Emperor of the Kitchen. (Did you know that processed meat is often has sneaky dairy-based ingredients in it?!? I'll save that one for another day...)
I will also spare you the lecture on IgE, IgA, and IgG antibodies and the difference between a food ALLERGY and an INTOLERANCE for now. That information can be found on the web in profusion and I will circle back to that meaningful discussion some other time, maybe. That said, an intolerance is different than a full-blown anaphylactic allergic response. Though no less deadly in the long term. Suffice it to say, there are expensive tests you can take to supposedly asses them. I have been taught and experienced that these tests are inaccurate, often showing both false positives and false negatives. When we had one done for our autistic son, it showed he had a sensitivity to 63 different foods. Eliminating all of these foods and reintroducing them made no difference. For us, the information was useless and ultimately sent me down the wrong path with how to help him. (Granted that was 10 years ago. And more recently I have heard mixed reviews from friends and colleagues.)
What does work reliably, efficiently, and CHEAPLY is an elimination period followed by re-challenge. This is preformed by strictly and completely removing a suspected food intolerance for 3-6 weeks (longer is better) and then returning to eating said food in significant enough quantities for enough consecutive days (4-7) to see if there will be a return of symptoms. This works! And when done correctly, elimination/re-challenge reveals conclusively what is happening in your body because you experience it yourself first-hand. This is the gold standard of research. There can be nothing more convincing than experiencing your symptoms go away and then come right back with the reintroduction of the food.
Now, before you start panicking, thinking that it would take years to go one by one through every food you eat, just know you can do it much faster than that! There are only a handful of foods that can be routinely blamed for the indigestion, constipation, headaches and migraines, fatigue, reflux, gut ache, belly bloat, flatulence, diarrhea, anxiety, depression, insomnia, acne, eczema, muscle ache, joint pain, the systemic inflammation, auto-immune conditions, atherosclerosis, fibromyalgia, insulin resistance, gynecological problems, and countless other woes common in modern civilization cause by food intolerances. (You don't have to have all of these, but if you have one symptom from each category of Mood/Energy, Musculoskeletal, and Digestion you might want to consider getting in touch with me so we can visit some more.)
These foods are… Drum Roll Please: Gluten, Dairy, Eggs, Rice, Corn, Oats, and Soy. Less common are intolerances to certain nuts, legumes, and night shade vegetables. (Remember, we are talking about intolerances NOT allergies.) So you can start with the Usual Suspects, and go deeper only if you have to. The reason for this is that these foods contain proteins that are made up of smaller peptide fragments that are IDENTICAL to peptide fragments found throughout tissues in our bodies.
When a person who is GENETICALLY REACTIVE to these food eats them, those undigested peptide chains enter the blood stream through gaps in the gut wall which triggers an immune response, targeting not just the foreign peptides from the foods but also (thanks to your memory B-lymphocytes and other white blood cells) targeting against the tissues of your very own body that have the identical peptide structures. You don’t have to have a leaky gut for this to happen, though over time this aggravation of the tissues of the small intestine can CAUSE leaky gut. The gut is meant to have a certain level of permeability so our immune system can keep tabs of what is passing through the body! These intolerances are life-long and can not be grown-out of. However, what once presented as a rash and colic as a baby can shift to chronic colds and eczema as a kid; only to disappear and return as migraines and insulin resistance as an adult.
Let me say this another way. The foods mentioned above have identical peptide structures to tissues in your body. When your immune system encounters these foods it creates antibodies to go seek and destroy “the bad guys” it thinks have infiltrated your system. But because the “bad guys” look just like the tissues of your body, the antibodies go to war against yourself. These identical peptide fragments are most often found in your connective tissues and tissues of your digestive tract. So, hello joint pain and digestive complaints.
Plus, because you are always battling yourself every single day, your stress hormones are constantly be activated. That’s why some of the signs of a food intolerance are anxiety, depression, and insomnia. The food you are eating is literally keeping your system in a low-grade fight or flight response all the time.
So the question becomes, if you could dramatically improve your mental health, increase your longevity, feel significantly less pain in your joints and muscles, reduce digestive complaints, AND drastically mitigate chronic and degenerative disease by giving up some of your most beloved foods… would you?
What if I told you because of the new delicious foods you would start eating it wouldn’t feel like deprivation? Sky’s the limit. Your tastes and preferences can change, and with them so can your health.
This LOOKS heathy, and for many people it is. (That's squash purée over a bed of greens for the culinarily adventurous out there.) For others this meal could be destructive. The key to optimum health is a process of discovery to uncover what foods are best for YOU. There is no one sized fits all diet that is the best for all people.
Don't let yourself feel overwhelmed!