What is a food sensitivity? And will you ever be able to eat a cupcake again???
Gut Health Series: Part 3
Food sensitivities are on the rise every year, causing mild discomfort to some, and life-altering disfunction to others. While there are many complexities and variables in regards to this topic, we're going to detect the critical role that the gut plays. Use this information as a piece of the puzzle in finding what resonates with your unique biological story. So what is a food sensitivity, what can you do about it, and is that cupcake really the culprit?.....
What symptoms might indicate that I have a food sensitivity?
Symptoms range far and wide, and include but are not limited to:
Skin rashes or irriations
If you're nodding your head yes to any of these, keep reading!
What is a food sensitivity?
Food sensitivities are not the same as food allergies, though both present complicated challenges. Food allergies typically cause severe reactions that require urgent attention, whereas sensitivities often manifest as more general and moderate discomfort and can be more difficult to diagnose. One key factor that is often overlooked is the health of the gut.
For a person who has a healthy gut with a strong intestinal lining, food is completely broken down in the stomach by acids and enzymes and they are less likely to develop food sensitivities. For a person with a compromised gut, the intestinal lining is weak and permeable because the cells of the intestines are no longer tightly knit together. This allows pieces of food and toxins to escape the GI tract and enter the body. (also referred to as “leaky gut syndrome”). The immune system recognizes these particles as a threat and attacks them, causing an over-activation of the immune system which triggers inflammation, and eventually manifests as the uncomfortable symptoms that we label as food sensitivities.
So rather than feel like your body has turned against you or that you now have a running doctrine to dictate the foods you're banned from ever enjoying again, let your symptoms be a signal from your body telling you that it needs a little extra attention.
Can my food sensitivity be healed over time?
In many cases, YES! Your magnificent body was created to heal itself when given the proper support!
What steps should I take if I have food sensitivities?
1. Rule out other diseases or conditions
If you think you may have food sensitivities, it's important to talk to your doctor first in order to rule out any other causes aside from an unhealthy gut. There are many conditions that could be causing similar symptoms and should absolutely be ruled out before self-diagnosing. Use the following steps as tips to help strengthen your GI tract for more optimal function and health.
2. Eliminate possible trigger foods
If you've never considered eliminating possible irritants, you may find great insight by removing one or more of the most common irritants (gluten, dairy, soy, corn, or eggs) for the duration of 3 weeks, noticing any changes in your symptoms.
Imagine it as a wound…the wound won’t be able to heal if you keep rubbing dirt in it, but once you remove the dirt and allow the affected area to heal, your skin will be able to come into contact with the dirt again without getting infected. (I'm not saying dairy and gluten are "dirt" or "bad" but you get the point)
Maybe you're the person who's whittled their diet down to sprouted lima beans, short grain white rice, and organic skinned almonds (or some other frustrating combination). First of all if that's you, I have so much respect and empathy for you, you are brave and strong to be working so fiercely to find restoration in this long road of healing. If you've removed the core irritants listed above and still feel that you're sensitive to EVERYTHING, I'm not recommending further elimination. In fact, expanding your diet when it's SO restricted can be the very thing that may allow for your microbiome to fully restore. In your case, it will likely be most beneficial to head straight for the underlying issue, healing the gut, as the next steps entail.
3. Heal the cells of your intestinal tract
By eliminating irritants, your body will naturally begin to knit the cells of the intestinal tract back together. You may benefit from adding extra support in the form of inner leaf organic aloe gel, L-glutamine, slippery elm, or licorice root, as many studies indicate these to be helpful in the healing process.
4. Restore the gut microbiome
Take a few simple steps to restore the gut microbiome, which you can read about in this blog post.
5. Practice the 4 pillars
Once you've ruled out disease, temporarily eliminated trigger foods, healed the intestinal tract and microbiome, the last step is to be patient and let your body restore itself in time. As your body does the hard work of coming back into her wholeness, you will do her well by practicing self-care through adequate sleep, nourishment, movement, and stress management.
You might be nodding your head yes but thinking "I'M TOTALLY OVERWHELMED!" If that's you, I so get it, I've BEEN there! Take a deep breath and remember these three things.....true restoration is a bumpy JOURNEY and takes time, your body is on your team not against you, and you don't have to do it alone! I'd love to support you in whatever way I can, so reach out or check out my services here!
***Consult your doctor before making any change in your diet or before adding new supplements or herbs if you have any current illnesses or conditions, and always tune into your body when it gives indication of negative responses to changes.