Common Concerns about Food Sensitivities
Will I always have reactions to these foods? How long will I have to give these foods up for?
These are common questions we get when working with our food sensitivity clients. We get it, it’s hard to give up foods, often because we enjoy those foods (which is why we were eating them!) and because we don’t want “to be difficult” when going out to eat or eating with others.
The reality is we don’t know if a food sensitivity will be an issue forever. I do say, it’s totally possible to get some foods back, but maybe not all of them. So this leaves us with the head-scratcher of why do you have food sensitivities in the first place? It may seem like to those that do not suffer from these, often debilitating, issues around food reactions that it is a privileged person problem or it’s just trendy to not eat wheat and dairy.
The immune system is a multi-layer and complex system in the body that is responding to all sorts of assaults on the system coming from the air (ex: flu viruses), our food such as bacteria or parasites that have hitched a ride, someone's unclean hand, or the food itself has spoiled or not been cooked properly, bacteria that has entered from a cut in our skin, and so on.
These many layers of the immune system that help protect us from getting sick from these invaders requires good nutritional health for the building blocks of immunity, good gut microbiome, sound sleep, exercise, stress management. All of these factors play into how your immune system is inter-related to your own genetic make-up. Within our genes, we might carry the gene-variant for celiac, but that doesn’t mean that we will definitely get celiac disease. However, something like a major shift in hormones or getting mono could trigger a change in your immune system to turn that gene on and now avoiding gluten is an absolute must for you.
But what if you don’t have any genetic predisposition for having food reactions? Here is a common scenario we see: it started when they were kids of getting frequent ear infections which came with frequent use antibiotics, they ate the typical kid diet of not a lot of veggies and more processed foods, then as they got a little older school and social pressures increased stress and then started to sleep less to meet the demands of getting life done. All of the factors have led the immune system to not be able to keep “putting out the fires” of immune assaults and they start reacting to more and more food proteins, we call this a loss of oral tolerance.
Why simply avoiding foods you’re sensitive too isn’t the best answer…
It may seem like we just remove the worst offending foods we feel better for a while. But if we do that and don’t address all of the factors that are there to support total immune health, in a few months you may start reacting to the foods you are currently eating, making your diet more and more restrictive.
Elimination diets, based on test results or not, need to be in conjunction with nurturing the immune system back to health first. That includes getting good sleep, reducing the stress burden, upping the nutritional game and repleting diminished nutrients, healing the gut and so on. Only your body knows how long it needs to heal, before trying foods again to see if still react to foods.
Sometimes a particular food will always cause gas, bloating, diarrhea, migraine or a rash. Sometimes, you might be able to enjoy a few bites of a food without issue, but not much more and sometimes you and that food will again rejoice in oral tolerance and live happily ever after.
As you can see, the answers to the questions are often “it depends”, and we know people either hate that answer or find solace that if they can put themselves back into balance they can enjoy all the foods in balance too.
Learn More about Food Sensitivities
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