Let’s talk about food sensitivities and allergies. It’s a topic that seems to really confuse people. The most common response I get from patients when I ask them if there are any food groups that they don’t eat is, “I tried taking myself off gluten/dairy/egg etc for a few weeks and it made no difference to my symptoms.” There are a couple of things that are important to understand in relation to this.
- Food is a piece of the puzzle. That means that often there is a food group that we are putting into our bodies that is causing inflammation and therefore symptoms. Firstly we need to remove the offending substance for a period of time and then I need to treat the body in order to heal it. There are often underlying bacteria, parasite, virus, thyroid, adrenal, autoimmune issues etc.
- Secondly, it takes a while for inflammation and destruction caused by offending food groups to be released by the body. It is also important to know that cutting down does not work. Going from a high level of inflammation to a low level of inflammation is not going to get you the results that you want.
Why are there so many more people with food sensitivities these days?
The simple answer is that our modern-day diet has changed dramatically. We eat far more diary than we use to and far more processed goods.
Wheat was genetically modified in the 1960s, the purpose being to have more bug resistant wheat, therefore being able to grow more and feed more people. In order for it to be bug resistant, it is sprayed with pesticides (round up). It is interesting that in the last 60 years since this has been happening, coeliac disease has quadrupled. (Dr Rodney Ford).
How do I know if I have a food sensitivity or an allergy?
There is a blood test to tell you if you have coeliac antibodies present in your blood. 35% of Caucasians carry genes for gluten sensitivities. (Robert Kidd). But to be honest, whether you are sensitive to a food group or allergic to it, it can cause just as many symptoms in your body and long term health consequences.
It is important to know that 50% of gluten-sensitive patients have no gastrointestinal symptoms.
So what are the symptoms that are associated with food sensitivities?
Your gut produces 90% of the neurotransmitter serotonin, therefore you can have symptoms of anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, memory issues, obsessive-compulsive issues.
Your gut contains 50% of dopamine in your body. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter which supports motivation, joy and memory. So as you can see, good gut health plays a massive role in good mental health.
There is increasing evidence that gluten acts as a neurotoxin in sensitive individuals. Therefore neurological conditions associated with gluten sensitivity can include dementia, alzheimer’s, psychiatric illnesses, motor and sensory neuropathy. (Robert Kidd).
Gluten antibodies affect soft tissue, therefore children often have soft teeth and require lots of fillings. Hernias are common.
Unexplained iron deficiency. Always tired. Always told iron is low or on the low side of normal despite eating meat or taking iron supplements.
Skin problems, acne, dermititis, exzema, psoarisis.
Any autoimmune condition.
Musculoskeletal conditions, rheumatoid arthritis, pain associated with osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, consistently tight muscles.
Behavioural issues (particularly common in children), concentration problems, brain fog.
So what now?
Ask me if you would like to take a look at any potential food sensitivities. I can also take a look at the general health of your gut and pick up any issues that might be contributing to your physical and or mental issues.
It is important to remember that your gut makes up 70% of your immune system, so while you may not have any gastrointestinal disturbances, it is still an important place to check if you have any other unwanted symptoms in your body.
It is also nice to know that if a food sensitivity, or multiple ones, show up in your body, it does not mean that you will be off these food groups for life. It is important to have a break, heal the gut and then reassess.