What is a Food Intolerance?
You can experience various symptoms from being sensitive or intolerant to a substance. A food sensitivity or intolerance is different from an allergy, which can be life threatening. However a reaction can occur immediately like an allergy or up to 72 hours after exposure, making it harder to track down. Here are some clues to if you may have an intolerance.
The main symptoms are:
Swelling of the body – due to release of hormones and fluid surrounding the substance in order to prevent it from doing harm. Main areas are the eyes, chin, hands, feet, ankles and belly. Our intestinal tract can also swell causing the pregnant look in both men and women. Our cells are disrupted causing a release of acidic chemicals which cause conditions in the body like arthritis.
Loss of energy – our body relies on food as its fuel, so something it is intolerant to has the opposite effect and the bodies energy works to trying to undo the damage. Many people then take an anti-allergy tablet to reduce the symptoms. Cetirizine is an antihistamine that reduces the natural chemical histamine in the body. Histamine can produce symptoms of sneezing, itching, watery eyes, and runny nose. So people take an antihistamine to treat cold or allergy type symptoms such as sneezing, itching, watery eyes, or runny nose.
However, constantly subduing your immune system and still exposing it to the cause of the issue is not going to do you any good long term. Our body naturally produces histamine to help you get rid of something that's upsetting you, an allergy trigger or "allergen" for example. It gives you a warning that there is an issue present. It can be reaction to someone’s aftershave or perfume, soap powder or softener – so it does not have to be a food or drink you have consumed, it can be any type of substance, even a reaction from cat hair for instance from someone in the office who sits a fair distance away from you. Histamine reacts by making you sneeze, your eyes stream or you itch, it does whatever it can to get rid of the allergen. Sometimes the bowels will just open. The body is screaming ‘get it out’ and does so as quickly as it can. This is part of your body's defence system and is natural, but people think this reaction is the issue and prefer to medicate to get rid of the signs that something is wrong. They medicate the reaction, not the cause. If you do that the issue is still there. So sometimes taking an antihistamine means you subdue your body’s reactions and then continue to consume or be exposed to the cause of the problem.
Skin reactions like hives caused by inflammation of the capillaries, which is part of the lymph system.
Nerve reactions causing pain and aches
Constipation and flatulence due to the fermentation in the gut from a build-up of harmful bacteria and yeast. The intestinal tract slows down (peristalsis – the automatic moment to keep food stuff moving to exit of waste). This can cause leaky gut or candida issues.
Why does any of this occur?
Foods can be divided into three main areas.
BIOCIDIC – bad for the body and deletes our energy
BIOGENIC – Energy Giving
BIOSTATIC – Not affecting body, used mainly for transit e.g. lettuce
For example we may eat too narrow a range of foods for instance cereal for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and pasta for tea, we are bombarding our body with wheat.
We now often eat ‘fake’ foods – they have no nutrients in and are empty from the body’s point of view. Think of zero calorie drinks and processed foods
We have digestive enzymes deficiencies and or/ probiotic deficiencies (good bacteria essential for body health) – plus foods natural enzymes are reduced by extensive farming, storage and radiation
We eat too many refined foods which contain no fibre
We consume alcohol and coffee while eating or consume chemical additives – these are often seen as E Numbers, to help preserve food or make it taste better as well as many other uses
We eat too much at once and overwhelm our digestive system – think portion sizes which have grown to massive proportions over the last 40 years
We are under too much stress, which affects digestion – it’s crucial to eat in a relaxed manner – many people stuff food down while driving, in a rush, or working at their desks while still working. Children get minutes to gobble down their lunch at school.
We don’t eat family meals around a dining table and speak to each other, we can even lay on a sofa eating
We can spend all the eating time on our phone – so don’t even notice what we eat or who we are with
We don’t chew our food properly – so large particles remain intact causing further damage to the intestines and digestive problems even if we have ample enzymes present. Our stomach cannot chew food, this must happen in the mouth
We drink too many liquids at mealtime causing the stomach acid to become diluted and not do its job properly
We combine many of the above problems and finally our immune system becomes increasingly impaired and we suffer further food reactions and many other symptoms
So what can we do about it?
First do the exact opposite of the above causes.
Eat at a table – even if you are alone. Set it, light a candle, make meal time special
Start eating as a family. (Work life permitting, but as often as you can)
Put your phone away
Leave your work desk – go for a walk and eat outside if you can
Chew slowly and taste the food
Avoid fizzy drinks that fill you up with no calories but make your hungrier
Eat real food rather than processed – it has no E numbers in
Learn to cook and enjoy it
Cook rather than ping it in the microwave (you are getting rid of any health left in the food by nuking it)
Get digestive enzymes – Enzyme Digest by Quest are brilliant, take one with each meal
Rotate your food - plan meals so they are not all the same food types. For example eat an egg for breakfast, jacket potato with a protein filling for lunch, meat/non meat protein with vegetables for your evening meal. (Menus will also be determined by things like Blood Type, Body type, gluten issues, known allergies etc), so may be the hardest part to determine. A saliva test showing intolerance may help (York Laboratories are excellent). Taking a DNA test such with a company such as 23&Me can also show health and food issues. (Both these cost).
Find out what reacts to you rather than just popping a pill to deal with the issue. Take care of yourself - keep a food diary
Eat a meal early in the evening, rather than at night when the body will have problems digesting it
Learning about your anatomy and physiology would help you know how the human body works and you can then work with it, rather than fight its natural reactions. Just because we don’t know something at this moment in time, does not mean we can't still learn about it. Learn something new every day, it will help your brain as well. Knowledge is key to life. It empowers us. Take control of your own life and health.
Learn to love your body rather than be disappointed in it for reacting to foods you love. Make a list of things you desire and times of the day you 'want it' or 'must have it'. You may then find a pattern. Sadly it's often the things we crave that are the main culprit. It takes 72 hours to wean yourself off, so be patient, but keep trying.