Functional Nutrition Blog

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Food Sensitivities…YES THEY ARE REAL: Signs and Symptoms, what to do, how to heal

Feb 11, 2022 | Gut Health

Today I want to talk about food sensitivities and a little bit about leaky gut and the connection that happens there.  I think the first most important thing to talk about when we’re talking about food sensitivities is what is that? So many people are being told, it’s not a real thing or food sensitivity is just in your head. That’s just simply not the reality.

What Is Food Sensitivity?

Essentially, food sensitivity is some sort of food that you’re not actually allergic to but that makes you feel like shit. This could be simply because you feel inflamed. Or it can be something a little bit more measurable. You feel constipated, bloated, diarrhea,  heartburn,  brain fog, your joints hurt, things like this.

What’s The Difference Between Food Sensitivities and Food Allergies?

Now, the important thing here is the reason this is different from an allergy. Food sensitivity could be delayed in its reaction, whether it’s mentally or physically, up to 72 hours!  Whereas a food allergy is normally pretty immediate.  Any of you out there who have true food allergies know if you accidentally eat something that’s got shrimp in it, and you have a
shellfish allergy, you know, very, very soon, whether you get sick or your mouth gets swollen or itchy. That’s what’s so tricky about food sensitivities.

. Let’s say you’re eating eggs, it’s breakfast on Monday morning, and you all of a sudden get a massive migraine.  You might think, oh my god, I can’t eat eggs. That’s the problem. When in reality, it could have been that two days ago, you ate an apple, and your symptoms just happened to manifest on Monday morning while you were eating eggs. Well, now you can see how quickly and how easily it can happen, that you identify inaccurately the foods that are part of the problem. And then you enter this cycle. Every single time you take food away, you start thinking to yourself, wow, I really don’t know what the hell is going on here. Because everything I do doesn’t make a difference. That is the really tricky part about food sensitivity. So how do we get these?

What Is Leaky Gut?

 I have another blog post that’s written about this. Check that out here. But essentially, the lining of your gut is very thin.  It’s very intentional.  The cells that create it are meant to come together.  They form sort of this junction, and they’re meant to open and close to allow things to appropriately pass. A leaky gut is where those junctions stay open.

So now you’re consuming your food and particles of that food that are not intended to leave the GI system now leak through these open channels. When that happens, it enters your body’s systemic circulation. Well, it’s not supposed to be in the systemic circulation. So your immune system, being the brilliant system that it is, tags these things as invaders the same way it would tag it cold if you were to bring in that sort of virus.

So what happens then is that every single time you eat that food, your immune system causes an inflammatory reaction. It thinks that there’s something in your body that shouldn’t be there.  Now you really see the cycle. So what has to happen is we need to first identify what these things are, which is a whole system on its own.  Then we need to remove them from your body just long enough for your immune system to calm down, it will forget that it had tagged these things. If you keep them out for long enough, that long enough is different for everybody.

Then you have to heal your gut. You got to identify what’s in the way, why is your gut impaired, or damaged. Once you do those things, all that food you had to take out that you identified as part of the problem, you bring it back in. That’s the really important point.

How Do Elimination Diets Work?

Now next week, I want to talk a little bit more about the importance of elimination diets. But I will say this right now, an elimination only as good as the RE introduction part of that elimination. We all know, whether it is from ourselves, or a friend or family member, we all know those people who go on a crazy diet.  Only to return to a place that they are worse off starting in. And it’s because the black and white pieces of any diet extreme or an elimination diet are very clear. It’s just not sustainable. It’s not supposed to be sustainable, it’s supposed to meet a specific goal at a specific time.

Heal Your Gut

Food sensitivities are not like allergies, they change, they’re supposed to change. That’s the point of this healing process, they’re not supposed to stay the same. It doesn’t mean that you might not pick new ones up along the way, depending on what’s going on. Maybe you get really ill, maybe you travel a lot, or you have a very, very stressful long period of time, any of that stuff will do it.  Life will do it. You have to be able to have a system in place that will allow you to bring this food back in. Otherwise, you end up being very restricted in your nutrients, and mentally, which causes a lot of stress.  Guess what stress impairs the digestive system damages the gut.

We want to make sure we really have a structure that’s going to allow you to say, these are the things that I’m taking out of my diet right now. This is why I’m using this system as a tool to accomplish my healing. When I remove those things, I’m going to do this set of things to help heal my gut. Once I am finished with that, I’m going to move these foods back into my diet systematically one at a time, and observe how I feel.

That’s the method that in a nutshell is essentially what I do with my one on one clients.  You can imagine how complicated it can get if it requires a lot of one on one attention. But some of you might be able to really piece some of this together for yourselves. Really paying attention to trying to figure out which foods are in the way.

 There Is Testing That Is Available

. Not all tests are created equal. You get what you pay for.  I’m not going to use any names of any tests  If you have any specific questions, feel free to let me know. But please know, you get what you pay for.  Understand what the test is measuring, so that you understand how accurate it is.  And how much you can kind of put into the information it is getting to you. If you don’t want to do testing, or that’s not available to you, it does require some journaling.

You have to be able to collect some sort of data for yourself to be able to look and try to piece together different types of patterns. That way you can say, oh, my gosh, I get a headache every so many days at this time. What am I eating the day before? Around that time? What am I eating two days before or three days before that time? That way you can start to put together these patterns. It’s time-consuming, it’s cumbersome, it is a pain in the ass. I understand all those things.  But it’s an option.  It is a tool that many of us have available to us.

Not Ready For Testing?

If you don’t want to do GI testing to really get into the details of what’s going on for the gut, you might start with things like a digestive enzyme. You might start with a general gut healing powder, you might choose not to do anything.  Simply removing the foods that are causing inflammation in your body is a huge piece of allowing the gut to start healing itself. Perhaps you don’t do any supplements and you just really focus on the food.

Make sure that you’re getting high-quality protein in every single meal, lots of rich, colorful plants, and lots of really nice healthy fats. Maybe that’s the path that you decide to take. It is an option. You don’t have to choose to do the really intense, deep dive.  It is the most efficient manner because you identify the most issues. But it’s not the only option.

What Are The Signs Of Food Sensitivities?

There is something available for everybody, depending on how much time and money and resources you want to kind of invest in this sort of thing.  I’m going to close by just explaining some signs that you might have food sensitivities.  I think that a lot of this is going to be really annoying because they could be signs and symptoms of so many different things. But oftentimes food sensitivities are at the root of those other issues.

Symptoms that you might be experiencing if you have a food sensitivity,

  • bloating
  • constipation,
  • diarrhea
  • abdominal pain or swelling
  • heartburn
  • acid reflux or GERD
  • brain fog
  • memory issues
  • ringing in your ears or itchy ears or throat, that could also be a food allergy, to be honest with you.
  • joint pain
  • new and unexplained anxiety

What Do All These Symptoms Mean?!

How many times have you been told that these symptoms are a sign of four, five, or six other things? That is the point. Your food is so connected to the way that your body feels.  There are other diagnoses that you’re going to end up with potentially because your food is what goes through your digestive system. Your digestive system houses at least 70% of your immune system. So when we’re talking autoimmune diseases, we have to address the gut, the food.

I made a huge chunk of progress on my own when I started my autoimmune journey, simply by getting out the foods that were causing a huge part of my inflammation.  I didn’t even really know anything was wrong until I was so sick. Couldn’t even walk up the stairs. So if you feel this and you think, man, I really have been exhausted for no reason. I really have been having a hard time finding words or I’m feeling really forgetful or my brain does feel a little foggy. I do have joint pain. And you know what, once in a while, I really feel like I have this weird indigestion.

What Are The Next Steps?

Either connect with somebody to start figuring out what is going on, or start journaling, hold yourself accountable. You don’t have to do this forever. Do it for two weeks, and then forget it. I hate journaling too. But it really can illuminate quite a bit for you. I wanted to share these options with you guys so that you knew that you had tools that were available to you that didn’t require you to spend any money or any investment of your time that you weren’t quite ready to make. Start here, see how it feels, see what information you can dig up for yourself, and know the food sensitivities are a thing. They are measurable, and you can do something about them. Cheering for you guys!

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