If you’ve suddenly found that you can’t eat certain foods you used to love, then you aren’t alone. You may be dealing with a food intolerance.
It’s important to understand that a food intolerance is different than a food allergy. If you are experiencing stomach discomfort, joint pain or migraines, then you are likely experiencing a food intolerance. But, if your face starts to look like a blowfish after eating kiwi ... or you break out in a large rash, then it’s probably an allergy.
The problem is that we’re not taught about the highly inflammatory foods that can to lead to food allergies or intolerances. Nine foods account for 90 percent of all food-allergic reactions. These nine foods include diary, gluten, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs, soy, corn, fish and shellfish. Four of these same foods (dairy, gluten, corn and soy) cause the majority of food intolerances. They both cause inflammation that can make you feel bad.
Think of your immune system like the scanner at the casher register of your local grocery store. Everything you put in your mouth and eat goes through the scanner. Then, your immune system determines whether it’s something good and nourishing or something that’s harmful and needs to be attacked, neutralized and removed from the body.
It’s usually this “attack” phase of the immune system that causes the discomfort in the gut or joints – or even causes headaches, mental fog or other symptoms you might be experiencing. Once you are intolerant to several of these four foods (although you might only realize one or two are bothering you), you’ll probably start to say, “everything I eat makes me sick” or “why can’t I eat like I used too?” I hear this from my clients all the time.
If you know some of these foods (or others) are bothering you, then I suggest initially removing all of them from your diet. This will allow your immune system to stop fighting the food you are eating and start healing the inflammation that’s causing your misery. Later, you can add each one back one at a time and figure out which ones are causing you problems and should be avoided long term.
Removing all your intolerant foods is the first step to healing, but don’t stop there. Next, you want to start working on boosting your nutrient digestion and absorption and healing your intestinal walls. This will really help you to feel better and keep the problems from recurring down the road. It’s no fun to go from feeling good again back to where you were before (or even worse).
The key is to listen to your body. If you have unmanageable digestive pain and discomfort, headaches, migraines, joint pain or autoimmune conditions, you may not be tolerating the foods you are eating. This is a clue that it’s time to support your gut health by removing foods you don’t tolerate and by restoring health to the organs and tissues of the digestive tract.
Fran Sutherlin is a local registered dietitian, health coach, speaker and owner of Sustainable Nutrition, which has offices in Durango and Bayfield. She can be reached at 444-2122 or firstname.lastname@example.org.