Don't Be So Sensitive! How even the healthy foods you eat could be causing all your problems!
When we first saw Christopher in the office he couldn’t sit still. He was all over every part of the exam room while I spoke with his mother, despite her effort to calm him down and have him sit. With his history of emotional outbursts, poor school performance and hyper behavior at home she was at her wits end. His teachers suggested special programs, his sports coaches hinted that maybe he wasn’t a good fit and she herself struggled to keep him entertained with anything but his tablet. “I know it’s not the best thing for him” she said “but sometimes I just need a break.”
Angela came to the office for answers. “I just feel inflamed all over” she said. She’d been tested for rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and a few other inflammatory disorders and while everything came back negative she couldn’t help but feel like they were missing something. “My joints hurt, my stomach is bloated, and my skin is always itching!” She complained that it seemed like eating would make it worse, but she couldn’t pin point just what was bothering her.
It might surprise you to hear that both of these cases actually had the same solution, despite their huge differences in symptom appearance. What we found in our process of testing is that both Christopher and Angela were suffering from undiagnosed food sensitivities.
You may be asking yourself how food sensitivities could lead to the strange array of symptoms expressed between these two patients. In fact most people think that a food sensitivity would cause symptoms similar to lactose intolerance and that a food allergy leads to swollen lips, hives or anaphylaxis. The fact is that there are so many ways that food intolerance can show up in our body if we are exposed to it long term.
To explore this further we have to get into a “mysterious” condition called leaky gut. I say “mysterious” because for unknown reasons the medical community still fails to recognize this as a common and treatable issue, and yet it is certainly not a mystery to those of us who see and treat it often.
To keep a really long story short, your intestines should be like a club with a really good bouncer; only the right stuff gets through from digestion into the blood stream. When we do things like eat lots of heavily processed foods, take rounds of antibiotics, drink excessive alcohol, or even experience high levels of stress we damage the protective intestinal lining. It’s as if someone beat up the bouncer. Now anything can get through to the blood stream. If something does get through that isn’t normally supposed to be there, now inside security has to mount a threat response. So we build up inflammatory responses to the foods that are getting though our gut lining fairly often.
Inflammation can lead to SO many issues throughout the body. All of the swollen joint and itchy skin issues that Angela dealt with are related to inflammation. For Christopher, his body processed the inflammation as disturbances in his brain, affecting concentration, ability to control his mood and other behavioral issues.
Other common symptoms of chronic food sensitivity or intolerance can include: brain fog, headaches, digestive trouble, autoimmune responses, skin conditions, and often even trigger or contribute to psychological disorders.
Sensitivity (intolerance) vs. allergy.
Another long story I’ll try to condense. Food sensitivity and allergies follow very similar pathways, but have slightly different inflammatory triggers. Chronic exposure to a food someone is sensitive to or a food someone is mildly allergic to will lead to similar responses. Only if someone has a higher level allergic response will we see the shift toward swelling of the face and throat and the symptoms we commonly associate with things like peanut allergies. Proper testing will allow you to see which of these problems is the source of your issues.
There are a few different methods that experienced practitioners use to figure out just what things your body may be sensitive to. Using blood based testing is one way to find out what foods your immune system is reacting to, and is an easy way to assess a large number of foods at once; manual muscle testing can be a much faster tool used to find reactions, and can pick up on reactions that may not even be seen on blood tests. Once we can understand which foods you have developed an intolerance or abnormal reaction to, we can help you to learn to eliminate these foods or do treatments to stop your body from responding this way.
While eliminating or treating foods one is allergic to/intolerant to is important, we also need to consider the source. If there is leaky gut going on, you will simply develop new food intolerances over time as you change your diet. What we need to do is use natural techniques to balance and repair the gut in order to stop the cycle.
I know. It sounds complicated. It is, and that’s why this is one thing we really don’t recommend attempts to self-treat, as they can just frustrate you more than anything. The good news? A well versed practitioner can help you sort these problems out in no time!
Interested in learning more? We’d love to hear from you and help!
Dr. Caroline Ricker has been passionately helping people avoid unnecessary medications and surgeries since 2009. She combines a very logical functional medicine approach to digestive disorders and more using a more alternative holistic approach, utilizing standard lab tests and in-office evaluations as well as nutrition, acupuncture and homeopathy.
Whole Health & Wellness
10807 Big Bend Road
St. Louis, MO 63122
P: (314) 269-3847