Oh no! I’m allergic to food?

Does cutting milk from your diet really make you lose weight? And should you cut wheat out, too? After all, a lot of people are doing it lately. Why are so many people swearing off foods they used to eat every single day?

It’s called an elimination diet and it’s more common than you realize. What’s interesting about the recent movement to eliminate certain foods is that most of the time, the reason for removing them is speculative. In other words, the person removing milk from his or her diet doesn’t actually know if removing it will make any difference. That said, elimination diets are amazingly effective in the case of food intolerance, which is a digestive system response. It occurs when something in a food irritates your digestive system or when you are unable to properly digest or break down food.

How can I suddenly be “intolerant” of foods I’ve eaten all my life?

Good question. In fact, food intolerance reactions can be activated when you eat the same foods day in and day out. They are especially likely to be activated when you have any type of stress to your digestive system. Examples include a course of antibiotics to treat an infection, birth of a child, death of a loved one, divorce, sickness, finding a new job, training for a marathon, surgery and frequent low blood sugar (i.e. letting several hours pass by without eating). These are all stresses that can cause the digestive barrier to break down and expose your immune system to commonly eaten proteins in foods.

In the past, humans did not have access to the same foods all year long, so these reactions would go away. Today, we can eat strawberries all year long if we want, meaning we can developreactions to the foods we eat most commonly and the reactions won’t go away. And because the symptoms can be so vague and non-life threatening, people who suffer from them are sometimes not taken seriously. Think about it.

What are the symptoms of food intolerance?

How often do you feel tired during the day? That alone could be a food intolerance reaction. But low energy is so common that we ignore it. Diarrhea, gas, bloating and headaches can all be food intolerance reactions. And because reactions can occur up to 48 hours after eating, people traditionally never connect the two (the food and the reaction) as related. Instead, they’ll seek relief from symptoms by using over-the-counter medications.

Food intolerance often turns up later in life. People are frequently surprised to discover they are lactose intolerant when they reach ages of 20, 30, 40 or older. The propensity to be food intolerant was always there and the body compensated for it. After serious stress, an intolerance can appear.

There is much evidence recently that indicates food intolerance is much more prevalent than originally thought. Many digestive problems from gas and bloating to constipation or diarrhea are never fully diagnosed, and food intolerance can be the cause. Gluten intolerance is now thought to be 15% of Americans. It is estimated that 75% of Americans are lactose intolerant. Those who are not are still producing enough lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose. It’s important to note that many humans stop producing enough lactase at weaning (around two years old).

Put simply, if you identify which foods your digestive system is intolerant of (and subsequently are sapping your energy), you can avoid them for a period of time and the reaction will go away. Unfortunately, most of us never know we have these types of reactions.

Is food intolerance the same as a food allergy?

No, it isn’t. A food allergy is an immune system response and it is not usually something you can change. One way of describing it is that the body mistakes an ingredient in food (usually a protein) as harmful and creates antibodies to fight it. Allergy symptoms develop when the antibodies are battling the “invading” food.

It is thought that food allergies come about because the invading protein resembles an infection your ancestors dealt with. For this reason, it is believed that food allergies are written into your genes. The severity of allergic reactions vary, but they always carry the risk of anaphylactic shock. For this reason, foods you are allergic to must be avoided for life. The most common food allergies are peanuts, tree nuts (such as walnuts, pecans and almonds), fish and shellfish, soy and wheat. If you are an adult wondering whether or not you are allergic to a particular food, you probably know it already. It is usually discovered by accident and it is (unfortunately) often followed by a visit to your local emergency room.

I’m wondering if I have a food intolerance, what should I do?

If you are experiencing repeated fatigue or low energy, make an appointment with us to discuss food intolerance. We have a very special blood test that takes less than 5 minutes to administer. Additionally, the kinds of reactions we test for are particularly hard to find without this test because they can take between 1 hour and 3 days to show a reaction. So if you react to dairy and you drink it on Monday, you might not get a headache until Wednesday.

Keep in mind that most of us are unaware of food intolerance reactions because they become so common and are in the background of our everyday experience. The particular test we use pinpoints these reactions. Armed with this information, we guide you through a plan to eliminate these foods comfortably from your diet for a period of time. During that process, your body will reset itself. You will restore energy and vitality you didn’t even know you’d lost!

Could food intolerance be a reason I’m not losing weight?

In a word, yes. MANY of our patients use this test to lose weight, and several others use it to get their hormones back in order. It is a near perfect solution to the most common ailments. If you are wondering about it, don’t wait. Make an appointment with us to discuss food intolerance.