Could you have a food intolerance?

Ever wondered if you have a food intolerance? Do you often suspect that something that you are eating is not quite agreeing with you? Do you get digestive upsets but can’t quite put your finger on what is causing it? Perhaps you are suffering from low energy, brain fog and skin conditions.

It may just be that you are suffering from food intolerances.

Food intolerances occur when your body has an abnormal reaction to certain foods. Symptoms of food intolerances can vary from person to person, and the symptoms are not limited to the digestive system. Common symptoms of food intolerance can include –

  • Bloating
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • IBS
  • Cramping
  • Fatigue
  • Brain Fog
  • Joint Pain
  • Lowered immunity
  • Eczema
  • Asthma
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Itchy skin
  • Fluid retention
  • Weight gain
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches and Migraines
  • Runny nose and congestion

While food intolerances are not life threatening, they can cause serious discomfort and can affect quality of life. Food intolerances can appear out of the blue. Sometimes after a period of stress or illness when the digestive and immune systems are weaker. Food intolerances occur when particles of food which is not completely digested come into contact with white cells in the blood. This contact occurs when there is a loss in integrity of the intestinal wall due to inflammation.

 How to test for food intolerances

To test for food intolerances, the gold standard is an elimination and challenge diet. To do this we strip your diet back to a very basic low-allergenic diet and then slowly re-introduce foods one at a time and assess your reaction to each food. This is the method that I employ with my patients and we have great success.

The hard thing about trying to identify food intolerances is that symptoms can appear several days after eating to trigger food.

There are blood tests available for food intolerance testing, however there is just not the science behind these tests to rely on them for complete accuracy. I have used these types of tests in the past, and I often find that patients end up on very restrictive diet, with very little improvement in symptoms. Alternatively I have had test results come back showing no intolerances, yet the symptom picture presenting in the patient clearly indicates that there is some type of food intolerance going on. 

I have a food intolerance, so now what?

Identifying the food intolerance is just one part of the healing process. When we eat foods that we are intolerant, they can cause inflammation and damage to the digestive system. Think of a graze on your arm, this is what can happen to the lining of your intestines. The result of this is a condition called leaky gut.

The lining of the digestive system is sealed nice and tight from the rest of the body. Only select and small molecules are allowed to pass from the digestive system to the bloodstream. When this tight lining gets inflamed it becomes ‘leaky’, meaning molecules that are not supposed to enter the bloodstream, get access.

The result of these molecules entering the bloodstream is an immune response. Immune cells find these molecules and start attacking them as they view them as foreign invaders. The sum of all of this is a very overactive and confused immune system.

Naturopathically we view the core of our health to be based in the digestive system. When the digestive system is out of balance, then the rest of the body will be out of balance.

So if you are ready to start your elimination diet, I have put together a comprehensive guide that you can follow from the comfort of your home.

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