While many people suspect that they have a food sensitivity, or intolerance, trying to work out what exactly is causing it can often feel overwhelming.
I would like to start by mentioning that I am not talking about food allergies in this post. Allergies are life-threatening conditions that must be supervised by a GP. A food sensitivity however can be extremely debilitating, causing pain, bloating, diarrhoea, constipation, skin rashes, headaches/migraines, fatigue and nausea. Common sensitivities are to wheat, gluten and dairy, although many other food groups can cause these symptoms. The problem often lies in trying to work out which one food, or food group, is the culprit when the meals we eat contain a number of ingredients.
Why do we develop food sensitivities?
Unlike a food allergy which is present from childhood, food sensitivities can develop in adulthood, seemingly out of the blue. Often the cause is due to a ‘leaky gut’ whereby the cells in the gut lining have become slightly separated. This allows particles of food to cross the lining and enter the blood. When these particles are of a sufficient size (see my earlier blog on chewing well) the body identifies them as a threat and puts up its defences. In turn this can lead to the symptoms listed above. Working on soothing and repairing the gut lining is always a key step in addressing a food sensitivity. Often this will be enough to allow the food to be eaten again.
How can I identify what is causing my symptoms?
As well as working on repairing the gut lining, an elimination diet (or elimination-challenge diet) is the gold standard in identifying food sensitivities. It involves removing foods from the diet until symptoms disappear. Foods are then reintroduced one at a time, keeping notes of any symptoms that reappear as a result. It can take some time to complete, but is thought to be more accurate than many of the food sensitivity tests available.
However, I speak from experience when I say that it is difficult to pinpoint the culprits on your own. For this reason I recommend undertaking an elimination diet with the support of a trained nutritionist to really unravel the causes of symptoms. Otherwise you may find that you’ve spent a long time depriving yourself of foods you love, yet feel no clearer or wiser by the end of the challenge.
Want to know more?
Are you currently suffering from bloating, pain, fatigue or any of the other symptoms above? If you would like to identify what might be the cause, then please get in touch and let’s chat. You can email me at email@example.com or complete the contact form below. I’d love to help you enjoy as many foods as possible without pain or discomfort.