Understanding Food Intolerances

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Are you suffering from gas, bloating, irregular bowel movements, or gut pain?  Maybe you think it is food-related but cannot figure it out? Let us tell you, you are not alone.  Food intolerances can be tricky to figure out because a reaction can occur anywhere from within a few minutes to 3 days after eating the offending food.  Confusing, right?  

We are here to tell you it is not always about the food.  It is often due to inflammation in the gut (known as Leaky Gut), an overgrowth of bacteria in your microbiome, or stress reactions that shut down your digestive system. 

We created this easy Gut Quiz to help you root out the problem areas in your gut!

Let’s discuss the difference between Food Allergy and Food Intolerance.  Food Allergy is immunoglobulin E (IgE) mediated. This means much like your seasonal allergies, which are a result of IgE, the reaction happens within minutes of exposure. Symptoms range from hives, swelling, itching and you can have trouble breathing.  Food Intolerance is mediated by a different antibody, immunoglobulin G (IgG), which remains active in the body for 23 days. Food intolerance can also be non-immunological and have no antibody to test, meaning the reaction is not produced by, involved in, or related to an immune response or the immune system.  IgG Food Intolerance can be hard to uncover because the reactions can occur anywhere from a few hours after exposure to 3 days.  Yes, this means you can eat the food you are intolerant to and not have a reaction start until up to 3 days later. Here is another piece of information to muddy the water: You can test IgG antibodies to food in a blood test but the problem is some antibodies activate the intolerance reaction and some suppress reactions. In the Food Allergy blood test, there is no way to know the difference. How to make this distinction is through a food elimination challenge, which is an integral part of our 6-week Revolutionary Gut course. We show you an easy food elimination challenge to uncover which foods are causing symptoms and stoking your inflammation. 

You may have a food intolerance to foods for a range of reasons. These include but are not limited to:

  • Lack of the right enzymes to breakdown a certain food 
  • Reaction to additives or preservatives in the food like sulfites, food dyes, and MSG
  • You have a sensitivity to other agents in the food like caffeine or histamine 
  • Sensitivity to sugars or proteins found in foods like lactose in milk or Oligosaccharides in fruit

Symptoms of food sensitivity or intolerance can range from mild to severe.  Here are some ways it can show up:

  • Gas and bloating 
  • Change in stools – diarrhea or constipation
  • Heartburn
  • Cramping 
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting 
  • Joint pain 
  • Fatigue 
  • Itching 
  • Muscle pain 

If you feel you may be experiencing food reactions, it is important to know if you have Leaky Gut, an overgrowth of microorganisms, or a lack of digestive capacity. It is important to know before diving into food intolerance testing.  Why you might be asking?

The cells of the small intestine are responsible for filtering out your digested meals and absorbing into the bloodstream the broken down molecules of vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, while not allowing larger, undigested molecules to pass through.

These cells are also responsible for moderating immune function in the gut and preventing microbial infections from creating disease. Your intestinal lining should act like a screen, which lets air and sun in while keeping insects, leaves, and critters out.  When there is damage to your screen, many things are allowed that should not be there. Just like with a screen, when there are holes in our intestinal lining (aka Leaky Gut), undigested food, proteins (dairy, gluten, etc), microbes, and toxins can have direct access to the bloodstream.  With this increased exposure to these substances, your immune system will produce an IgG antibody reaction to fight the invaders.  When you heal from Leaky Gut, many of these food reactions will disappear because you addressed the root of why they started.  This is the perfect example where the food was not the root cause.  

An overgrowth of microorganisms in your gut microbiome is another reason why you can have inflammation running through your gut that is not due to the food.  Your immune system has a job to fight invaders. When bacteria, fungus, or parasites overgrow, your inflammatory response increases and this can lead to an IgG response to food, causing confusion about what the reaction is due to. If you get the overgrowth under control and decrease the inflammatory response then you will find the food reaction will reduce also.

As for a lack of digestive capacity, when you do not properly digest either from 

  • eating food your body cannot break down easily, 
  • eating under stress so you don’t release enough digestive juices or 
  • not chewing properly 

then your microbiome will be overfed and thus overgrow, leading to leaky gut and/or Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO).

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The cycle of an imbalanced microbiome

Testing (through a laboratory or an elimination challenge) for food reactions is useful.  Removing reactive foods can help you to heal faster.  The important things to know are:

  • You must get to the root cause of your digestive distress: leaky gut, low digestive capacity, or microbiome overgrowth (or a combination!)? Take our free Gut Quiz to learn which it is likely to be.
  • As you heal the root problem then many of the food intolerance may resolve
  • For long-term gut health, you need to find out which foods are healing and which are promoting your inflammation. 

There are many things everyone can do, for free, from the comfort of their own home to heal their gut. That’s why we are holding a Free Masterclass – 3 Secrets to a Happy Gut – on Wednesday, April 27 at 6pm Pacific Time, to teach you these secrets.

Once you understand how the gut functions and what it needs to optimally function, limiting certain trigger foods or adapting some minor lifestyle changes will be less daunting. Also, once these changes become a habit, they’re no sweat – even though the benefits are monumental: Imagine NOT feeling bloated or always wondering if there will be a bathroom nearby!

And if you are ready to finally put an end to the discomfort of bloating, IBS and/or constipation and get you back to living the life you deserve, consider our 6-week Revolutionary Gut Masterclass. Click here to learn more. If you have questions, email drskinner@revoutionary.health

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