Food Sensitivities & Intolerances: Everything You Must Know
I'll get right to it today. As you probably know, I haven't been feeling my best lately, but it's all good because I am on the right path to better health!
update: since I originally wrote this post and sticking to my food sensitivity and parasite protocol, I've been feeling loads better! It's amazing the power that food has to either make us feel our worst or our best! More on that at the end!
Part of the reason I haven't been feeling so hot (read: poor digestion, tons of fatigue, skin issues galore, etc) is that I have discovered that I'm sensitive/intolerant to many foods that I have been consuming on a daily basis for years now. We'll get to what they are later but first, what exactly is a food sensitivity? How is it different from an allergy?
Well, when you eat a food that you're intolerant to, your gut won't digest it or absorb it properly. This causes undigested food particles to travel through the gut lining (which if you have a leaky gut will have tiny holes in it) and into the blood stream, there it will cause an immune reaction. Your immune system then recognizes it as a pathogen and develops a reactionary response, causing inflammation all throughout the body. NO GOOD. Inevitably, this leads to leaky gut syndrome, or is caused by leaky gut syndrome -- chicken or the egg type of deal. Nonetheless, if you have a leaky gut, you have a food intolerance and vice versa.
So in my body, the foods that I eat, that I was unknowingly intolerant to, were only exacerbating the problem in my gut that is showing symptoms all throughout my body. My symptoms include inflammation in my body (puffy joints), acne, digestion distress, malabsorption, eczema/dry skin, bloating, puffiness and more! As we know, the gut is linked to all other areas of our body and our overall health. When the gut is compromised, our health is compromised. Food intolerances can be caused by foods that hurt the gut lining or it could be caused by a parasite or overgrowth of candida. The state of my leaky gut allowed my parasite and candida overgrowth to take over and food intolerances to proliferate, worsening the condition of my gut even more and causing stress throughout my body. This stress most likely caused my adrenal fatigue and hormone imbalances, causing me to feel even worse. I know... it's all connected! Essentially, there was a lot going on in my gut that I didn't really realize was causing me to feel sluggish, tired, puffy, bloated and uncomfortable in my own skin. Knowing that there are multiple things working together to cause this feeling can be troubling, but also TOTALLY relieving because I now know I can fix them and start to feel better soon enough! It's amazing how much can be happening in our body without realizing it, but also amazing to realize how we can fix it once we know what it is, which I will share below!
And to really know what's going on, you need to test. The test I had is called an MRT test. It tests all the reactions your body has to 150 different foods. It rates them by category as either non reactive (green), moderately reactive (yellow) or highly reactive (red). As you can see in the images, a lot of the foods I had consistently eaten on a daily basis were wreaking havoc on my gut and causing inflammation (leading to all my other problems...) throughout my body. So, once I can take them out again, my gut will begin to heal itself and the small holes (that the undigested food was passing through and into my blood steam) will close and my gut will hopefully no longer be permeable.
So I'm going to eliminate completely all the red and yellow foods for at least 3 months and rotate the high greens ever 3-4 days so that I don't develop a food intolerance to them. That means no to: all spicy foods, pineapple, cranberry, live, cheddar cheese, whey, onion, mushroom, eggplant, tomato, millet, clam, salmon, cumin, sesame, pecan, chickpeas, tea, tapioca, coffee, and eggs. Sad face on the last two. BUT, it's already been about a month (without coffee!!!) and so far so good. The withdrawal period was rough, but I'm feeling better and better each day! I feel less inflamed, less puffy, less foggy and hopefully as my gut continues to heal my nutrient and fat absorption will increase which will help a host of other things!
It's a bit of a hassle to go through, I'll be honest, but I know it's worth it for my health and for my ailments! I am totally fine when I am cooking on my own -- easy peasy. Going out may be a bit harder to manage, but I will take it as it comes. I really want to feel my best in the upcoming months and I think if I can stick to this as best as I can then I will really see improvements. My gut is a mess at the moment -- candida, parasite, etc will expand upon in another post -- but the food sensitivities are a huge part of whats causing the other stuff to happen.
My only worry with all of this is travel. We're traveling to Africa for a week in a couple weeks, so I won't be able to completely control what I'm eating. While I'm totally okay with this usually, it's difficult when I can't eat things like tomatoes (super reactive), olive oil or cumin... but I will try my best and understand that not everything will be perfect but I will try my best!
Anyone else had an MRT test done before? It's a lot more reliable than the at home ones like the Pinner test, so I recommend that if you suspect a food allergy to work with a Holistic Health or Functional Practitioner (I am working with Shawn if you're looking for a rec!) for best results. They know what they're doing and can help you a lot more than you think! I always was dead set on healing myself on my own, but it's proven to be a lot more difficult. Getting real tests done and getting a real protocol prescribed by someone more knowledgable is the best way to go!
2 month update:
Since I first drafted this post, it's been about 2 months since I cut out my intolerances and about 6 weeks since I've been taking my supplements! That means 2 months of (mostly) none of my food intolerances and sticking to my supplements for adrenal health and parasite cleansing. While it's been a whirlwind to order all my supplements and get them all over here, since starting the protocol I've felt better than ever. Energy levels are loads better than usual (yay no coffee!), I've been feeling less inflamed in general (so so important to tackle inflammation), and I haven't even missed any of my intolerances.
I will say, during my travels it was not especially easy and I didn't completely adhere to my protocol. It's extremely hard to be eating out for 2 weeks and avoid olive oil, BUT I knew it wouldn't derail me that much from my healing protocol, so I chose to relax and accept that that is life and I am okay with it! I'm not dead nor am I set back too far back on my protocol. I chose to stay away from what I could have complete control over (coffee, tea, salmon, etc.) but didn't sweat too much about what would be harder to avoid (evoo, sesame, etc.) Travel is tough, but worth every second and every broken rule! Seriously.
I'm really pleased with how my body has reacted to cutting out foods that didn't jive with it previously. It's really important to understand that while most of the foods I'm intolerant to are completely healthy, if not some of the healthiest, if your gut is impaired or leaky, it may not see these foods as healthy. They're recognized as foreign invaders and are passed through your gut (the little holes that caused by various lifestyle factors) into your bloodstream (undigested) where they cause inflammation and an immune response. Once you heal your gut, you can reintroduce these foods and see how they work with you then! It could be totally fine, or it could still not be 100%! It's something you have to take slowly and wait for your body to heal itself properly to ensure that your getting rid of the permeability in your gut!
More on gut stuff later (isn't it the best!?) because not sure if you heard, but your second brain is in your gut. The two are connected, and whether or not all doctors agree on the importance of gut health, it is something wellness and health oriented people need to pay attention to! It's becoming more and more recognized, as it should, so there's hope that one day we won't be taking antibiotics on the reg to cure ailments that food can take care of!
So that was basically the gist of my experience with food intolerances and how I've dealt with it! It's been easier than expected (with the travel exception) and I am actually feeling loads better, my skin is clearing up (slowly but surely) and I have tons of energy and almost no bloating/stomach/digestive issues that I used to have daily. If you're dealing with any of these issues, you should for sure get some tests done for your gut health and food sensitivities. It's totally worth the investment, and its really hard to know otherwise what your body doesn't like and the state of your gut health. Without tests I would have had no idea that I was intolerant to all those foods, had a candida imbalance, has a parasite (!!!) or cortisol issues. Now I do and in taking the correct steps forward to heal, I feel loads better!
Let me know if you have any experience with functional medicine, tests like these, or food intolerances! I love it all.