Have you ever told yourself “oh, I can handle a little bloating for some bread.” Or maybe, if I eat this cheese, I think it will make me break out a bit, but it’s ok.” Or maybe, you have vague symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog, occasional bloating, changes in skin texture or breakouts, or even digestive problems, but you are not sure what it causing it. These symptoms are your body’s way of communicating with you. Don’t ignore them! If you ignore your body when it is whispering to you, it will have to start yelling.
What Happens When You Ignore Your Food Sensitivities?
If you need a review of how food sensitivities are created, see How to Avoid Getting Food Sensitivities. If you are unsure if you have food sensitivities, see Food Sensitivities, Food Allergies, and Food Intolerance: What’s the Difference?
So, you know that food sensitivities are created and/or exacerbated when a condition in the gut sets in called intestinal permeability (commonly referred to as leaky gut).
Let’s Review the Main Drivers of Leaky Gut:
- Poor digestion: When your body is low in hydrochloric acid (stomach acid) and/or deficient in digestive enzymes, your food does not get fully digested. It also sits in your gut too long and causes inflammation. Over time, this inflammation weakens the lining of the gut and little holes develop making it “leaky”.
- Alterations in the microbiome: This is called dysbiosis. It can be not enough good guys (probiotics), too many bad guys (pathogenic bacteria), and/or infection by parasites. See Protecting Your Microbiome to review how to take care of this crucial organ.
- Stress: Stress increases intestinal permeability.
- Overuse of antibiotics
- Eating factory farmed meats and eggs which are pumped full of antibiotics, are not fed the appropriate diet, and are sick themselves.
- Eating farmed seafood: same goes as above for the factory farmed meats.
- Eating conventional produce grown with commercial fertilizers and pesticides. Pesticides like RoundUp actually puncture the lining of your intestines.
- NSAIDS like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, etc): These can cause holes in intestinal lining with just one dose.
- Repeatedly consuming foods you are sensitive to: Eating foods you are sensitive to causes your immune system to send out cytokines that cause inflammation. This inflammation weakens your intestinal lining even further causing more intestinal permeability and leading to new food sensitivities!
What Happens When You Ignore Your Symptoms?
Aside from the fact that your symptoms will continue to worsen if you keep eating foods you are sensitive to, and you will begin to develop other food sensitivities, here are a few more reasons to listen to your body’s symptoms:
- Autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s, Lupus, Graves, Sjorgen’s, psoriasis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, etc. all have one something in common: Leaky Gut! Over time when the immune system gets called in over and over to attack the “antigens” (food sensitivities), the immune system becomes confused and often overreactive. Also, during these attacks there is collateral damage. Where that damage occurs, depends on your genetic weakness and your toxic exposure. In order to prevent and reverse autoimmune disease, you need to heal your gut!!! You can’t heal your gut while you are assaulting it with food sensitivities.
- Symptoms are exacerbated: Your brain fog gets deteriorates to short term memory loss, your digestive symptoms compound, your joint stiffness turns to pain, etc. Your body is sending you symptoms to communicate with you. If you don’t listen, it has to get your attention by increasing the volume or yelling at you.
- Food sensitivities cause silent inflammation for years before you start noticing symptoms. Silent inflammation is the driver of most modern ailments and diseases such as heart disease.
Oh Crap! I think I have Leaky Gut! Now my life is ruined!
Not so fast!! Think of intestinal permeability as a continuum. Because the digestion and assimilation of nutrients is crucial to your existence, your body puts a high priority on repairing your intestinal lining. With the proper nutrients in abundance, your body replaces your intestinal lining every 3-7 days. That’s great news!
This also explains why sometimes that delicious gluten-laden beer doesn’t cause you any issues and other times it does. However, to fully heal yourself from your food sensitivities, they will need to be completely removed from your diet for a period of time. This works best when you remove ALL of your sensitivities at once and at the same time work on healing your gut. (This is a big part of the foundational work I do with clients.)
Usually 3 months does it, but there are some stubborn sensitivities (generally the longstanding ones) that may take 6 months or even a year to heal. Occasionally, there is just something the body does not like anymore (or maybe it never did) and the sensitivity never goes away.
Okay, you say! I’m ready! Let’s do it! But wait…how do I know ALL the foods I am sensitive to? Look for next post in this series “Food Sensitivity Testing and Elimination Diets: What You Need to Know” to find out!! (coming next week). If you don’t want to miss it, you can scroll to the bottom of the page to sign up for my newsletter. That will also give you access to my free resource library with ebooks and pdfs free for you to download!
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