Could food intolerances be making you irritable, tired and fat? It is common hear about people removing dairy, gluten, meat or other foods from their diets to help solve their current health complaints. As a result of this trend, there is no shortage of food products playing on these claims and being sold to consumers today. The revenues from these specialty foods are projected to hit an astounding $26 billion annually by 2017. So, is this gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free food movement just a fad or is there some truth to this new market trend?

Most people have between five or six food intolerances and they don’t even know it.  That is because the slower development of allergic response from food intolerances make it harder for people to equate the food they ate yesterday with the vague symptoms like fatigue, inability to lose weight, headache and irritability they experience today. The problem is due to an overload of the antibodies produced against this food. If this particular food consumption continues, these antigen-antibody complexes start depositing in skin, brain, muscles, joints and digestive tract tissues leading to frequent health complaints.

But how do we get food intolerances in the first place?
Gut inflammation is the result of overconsumption of processed foods, unhealthy intestinal flora, deficiencies of enzymes in stomach and intestines, stress, certain drugs, and alcohol. An inflamed gut lining can become “Leaky” which refers to the gut wall becoming more ‘porous’ to the extent that contents such as undigested food, pathogens, toxins are now able to pass through the intestines into your bloodstream. The presence of foreign particles in the bloodstream causes the body to produce antibodies against them.  The next time you eat the same food, the body remembers this invader and attacks again with a stronger response that we see manifest as eczema, mood disturbances, weight gain, and other symptoms.

First, it is important to understand the difference between a food allergy and intolerance. A food allergy is define as an Immunoglobulin E (IgE) mediated immune response, which means that symptoms are sudden and potentially life threatening, such as a bee sting or nut allergy, resulting in symptoms like itchy rash, wheezing, and shortness of breath.  However, a less common mode of allergy is an Immunoglobulin G (IgG) immune response where reactions are slower and thus can take many years to develop and “show” themselves as vague symptoms like fatigue, inability to lose weight, headaches and irritability.

Proper Diagnosis is Key
While the skin prick test for allergies (the skin reacts to the proteins in the food applied) is still the gold standard among allergists, it’s not so easy to pinpoint IgG food sensitivities. There are 2 common methods used by Naturopathic Doctors to aid in identifying food intolerances. The first is an elimination diet; this trial and error approach removes common allergenic foods for an extended period of time to see if symptoms improve. Because this method requires greater commitment often a rapid blood test can be used to look for the presence of antibodies against common foods. The diagnosis is then confirmed when the symptoms improve upon the elimination of these reactive foods.  Often people can reincorporate the foods after they repair their gut health though they are advised to moderate their consumption frequency.

If you think you suffer from food intolerances please seek out professional advice. It’s not just about eliminating the one food group or another; it’s about treating the root cause of all your symptoms.  Unfortunately, that means there isn’t just one healthy diet for everyone!

Take care

Dr.NicoleTime