Understanding Food Sensitivities and How They Contribute to Chronic Disease
Updated: Apr 9
Do you run to the bathroom immediately after consuming a certain meal? Do you suffer from migraines, mood changes, and irritability and have no idea what the trigger is? Do you suffer from skin issues, such as eczema, acne or psoriasis?
Your body is communicating with you! Every sign, symptom, recurring “fluke” bathroom issue, is your body’s way of telling you something is not right. The causes of these issues could be as simple as a food or particular ingredient in your diet!
For me personally, when I consume dairy my face breaks out 24-48 hours later, like clockwork. If I continue to consume dairy on a regular basis, my weight is harder to control, even when eating the same amount of calories. And anytime I eat a combination of wheat and soy, I am suffering from heartburn, just a short time later.
I think the largest misconception is that unless you have a full-blown, diagnosed allergy, food cannot be a cause for some of your issues. You may not experience an acute reaction (rapid onset of symptoms) such as hives or anaphylaxis, associated with a food allergy, but you ARE having heartburn and discomfort every time you eat almonds, for example. These symptoms could be a result of a food sensitivity.
A food you continue to consume -which you have a sensitivity to- causes inflammation in your body. It is an inflammation trigger. Therein lies the problem! Chronic inflammation is what contributes to chronic disease. Let me repeat that: CHRONIC INFLAMMATION IS CONTRIBUTING TO CHRONIC DISEASE!
The author Jack Challem discusses this link extensively in his book The Inflammation Syndrome (2013). Fibromyalgia, arthritis, heart disease, asthma, migraines, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, diabetes; these are just a few examples of chronic disease associated with chronic inflammation. Now, inflammation is a completely necessary function in your body. It occurs when you have a cut, or an injury- its primary function is to heal. However, chronic inflammation causes continuous, unrelenting damage to your body. If your inflammatory response continues to get triggered every time you have wheat, and you eat a bagel with cream cheese every morning for breakfast, a sandwich and fries every day for lunch and tacos with flour tortillas every night for dinner…what do you think is going on in that body of yours? According to Challem, this is a dangerous type of low-grade inflammation that is not always obvious- but will slowly break down the body, leading to chronic disease.
One way to determine if you have a food sensitivity is by doing an elimination diet. I would recommend the elimination of a certain food prone to causing inflammation such as wheat, dairy or soy- the most common for food sensitivities. After avoiding one of these items for about 3 weeks, add it back into your diet. For the following 3 days, document how you are feeling and what side effects, physically or emotionally, you may be experiencing. Then, repeat this process with the remaining foods, in addition to any food group you suspect causing issues. If you notice you are feeling worse after eating a particular food, you may be sensitive to it.
This is an option if you have some time and patience. The alternative would be a food sensitivity test. You may have trouble getting this done at your conventional doctors' office. My own physician refused since insurance doesn’t cover it. You could make an appointment with a naturopath, as I did, but you could be out $700 or more. However, I have since found lab tests that you can order online and have sent to your home. Simply perform a simple finger prick test and send back- the results would come shortly after. I have found some tests for as little as $199- too bad I didn't know about it sooner! The market for these types of tests is continuing to grow, and I for one, am very excited about it! Linked below is EverlyWell, a company that provides this test, among many others.
These types of blood tests measure the Immunoglobulin G (IgG) response. A study published by the Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine in 2015, utilized this IgG measurement since these antibodies provide long term resistance to an infection-indicating a food sensitivity; this differentiates from the Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibody response associated with an immediate, allergic response to a substance. In the study, they found that patients who avoided the foods based on the results showed a significant reduction in the symptoms that they had reported prior to eliminating offending foods.
So whichever route you decide, finding out which foods could be causing your migraines, acne or constant bloating, could be a life changer! Not only that, but it could prevent a future that includes chronic disease.
In Love and Health,
Altern Ther Health Med. 2015 Jan-Feb;21(1):16-27.
Challem, Jack. The Inflammation Syndrome Your Nutrition Plan for Great Health, Weight Loss, and Pain-Free Living. John Wiley and Sons Ltd, 2013.