Food Sensitivities

 No discussion of diet would be complete without addressing food sensitivities. Most people think that runny nose, watery eyes, and sneezing are the only symptoms of food sensitivities, but reactions could also include headache, back and joint aches, gas, diarrhea, and constipation. Food sensitivities are often the result of eating too much of our favorite foods, the ones we consume on a frequent or daily basis. True food allergy, however, causes an immediate reaction, such as swelling of the throat and tongue after eating strawberries, shellfish, or peanuts, which can result in anaphylactic shock. This is a true medical emergency; therefore, these substances must always be avoided at all costs by susceptible individuals.

Food sensitivities result in much milder symptoms that may occur immediately or even days after the offending food is ingested. Typically, these are foods that we most often eat, such as wheat, corn, dairy, sugar, and soy. Many times food sensitivities result from increased gut permeability, or ‘leaky gut’ syndrome when partially digested food particles pass through the digestive lumen into the bloodstream. This is a result of poor eating habits, improper digestion, and over-the-counter or prescription medications. The body cannot identify these foods in the partially digested form, so it reacts as if a foreign invader arrived, responding with distress in the respiratory, gastrointestinal, or musculo-skeletal systems.

By identifying and temporarily eliminating these foods, one may eventually be able to eat them again on a rotation basis, providing intestinal integrity is restored and the digestive process is enhanced. There are several ways for health practitioners to identify food sensitivities, but a simple method to determine your own sensitivities is by recording your pulse before and after eating the questionable food. A normal resting pulse rate is fifty-five to seventy beats per minute. If your pulse rate increases by more than ten beats per minute after eating the selected food, chances are you are sensitive to it. Eliminate that particular food from your diet for about three weeks while monitoring any changes in symptoms, then eat the offending food in its simplest form and notice if your symptoms reoccur. Food elimination gives the body a chance to recover, and supplements can help restore the gut integrity. Rotating all foods at least every other day helps the body cope with sensitivities. It is recommended to keep a food diary.

Some practitioners believe that food sensitivities and the way each individual digests and processes food are not only related but may be the underlying cause of all disease. This theory has even been the foundation of some successful weight-loss programs. It’s worth a try; you may feel better eliminating some common foods from your daily diet. And you may see a dramatic difference in your bowel habits. Dairy foods and wheat are common culprits in constipation.


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