Are you wondering how to protect yourself from getting food sensitivities? You may have noticed many of your friends, family, or coworkers members saying “oh, I can’t eat that anymore”. Food sensitivities are now extremely common in our society, but they don’t have to be!
How do food sensitivities develop?
In order for food sensitivities to develop, conditions have to be right in the gut. It usually starts with poor digestion. Many people rush around all day putting their bodies in “fight or flight” mode (or sympathetic mode). When your body is in “fight/flight”, it manages its resources differently than when it is in “rest and digest” mode (or parasympathetic mode). First of all, if you are just trying to survive a situation (such as being chased by a wildcat), your body is not too concerned with digesting the meal you just ate. Instead, it shunts the blood to your extremities to make you faster and stronger temporarily. This leaves the meal you ate to sit in your stomach. The fats rancidify, the proteins putrify, and the carbohydrates ferment. Sounds delightful, doesn’t it?
Leaky gut (aka intestinal permeability)
Next, this mass of maldigested food inflames your intestines and allows pathogenic bacteria (bad guys) to flourish in your gut. These pathogenic bacteria eat away at the mucosal layer that protects your intestinal lining, making little spots of “leakiness”. Over time, more and more “holes” develop and the maldigested food is allowed to leak out. Once it leaks out into the bloodstream, the immune system gets called in. It sees invaders (antigens) and attacks. So, if you have toast for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, and a biscuit with your dinner, eventually your immune system tags gluten or one of the other proteins in wheat as an offender and you develop vague symptoms every time you eat it.
Symptoms are your body’s way of communicating with you, but most of us have lost the ability to hear what our bodies are saying (or we never learned to listen in the first place). If we listen early on when the body is whispering, it will save us from the experience of having our body have to yell at us.
How to avoid getting food sensitivities:
- Eat a wide variety of foods: Eating the same thing every day is the fastest way to give yourself a sensitivity.
- Eat with the seasons: We weren’t designed to have access to bananas every day, yet there are people who do just that.
- Don’t stress! Chronic stress thins the mucosal layer that protects your stomach lining, leading to a leaky gut. You may think that it is impossible to stop stressing, but it is all in your perspective. You may not be able to do anything about your obligations and other factors that are causing you stress, but you can change your perspective. Research shows that having gratitude for what you have greatly changes your perception of your stress load. Try keeping a gratitude journal. Instead of feeling stressed by the pile of laundry that you need to do, feel thankful that your family has so many clothes. It may sound simple, but it works (not overnight, but with practice).
- Don’t take OTC drugs like Advil (ibuprofen): These drugs eat holes in the lining of your gut. We grew up with these and have been conditioned to think of them as harmless. They are far from harmless, however. If you have chronic pain, the best thing to do is to make sure you are eating (and digesting) healthy fats. Omega 3s block inflammatory pain pathways. Most people in the US are deficient in their fatty acids (healthy fats), and they take a while to rebuild, but it is definitely worth it. Not only do they block pain, they also lower overall inflammation in the body which is protective against most chronic diseases and protects your brain! So, eat low mercury fish 2-3 times a week and take the highest quality fish oil supplement that you can afford to pay back your fatty acid deficiency as quickly as possible. If you need to treat acute pain, try the herb Boswellia or a high-quality CBD. If you are trying to treat a fever, don’t!! Fever is your body’s natural mechanism to kill off viruses and pathogenic bacteria. Let your body do what it was made to do!!
- Eat organic: Pesticides and GMOs (which generally have pesticides inside the plant) poke little holes in your gut lining. No thanks!! Not only is organic better for your body, but it is also better for the planet. It’s a no-brainer. You simply can’t afford t0 not to eat organic since your body is the ONLY place you truly have to live.
- Avoid taking unnecessary antibiotics: Although antibiotics can most certainly save lives, over 80% of the antibiotics prescribed are unnecessary. Antibiotics kill good and bad bacteria alike, and unfortunately, the “bad” guys (or the weeds to use a garden metaphor) are what come back first and get the upper hand.
- Eat only pastured or wild meats: This is extremely important. First, there is the antibiotic factor. Factory farms have to use antibiotics on their animals because of the horrid conditions that they keep them in. The animals are already weak because they are not eating what nature intended them to eat and they are not getting fresh air and sun. The antibiotics also fatten the animals up (they fatten you up as well) and this is great for profit. You are what your food eats and you eat these antibiotics. We can also add the fact that these animals are not treated humanely to our list of reasons why we should not eat them and should not use our dollars to support these factory farms.
- Avoid using chemicals like roundup in your yard: Just like I mentioned above, pesticides poke holes in your gut lining. Just because you aren’t eating your grass, doesn’t mean that your body is safe from the pesticides in your yard. You will breathe them in and if you choose to sit on your grass, you will absorb them through your largest organ, your skin.
If you are wondering what to do if you already have food sensitivities, check out my posts, Food Sensitivities, Intolerance, and Allergies: What’s the difference?
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