Most of us enjoy eating, but when we suffer from food sensitivities, eating can change from enjoyable to a chore. Unfortunately, food sensitivities are a growing problem for many people.
This, of course, means more people having to restrict their diets or risk the side effects of eating off-limits food. Symptoms can range from a feeling of lethargy after eating, to major gastrointestinal distress, to full anaphylactic shock.
There is also a misconception that if you react negatively to a certain food or foods, then you are suffering from a food allergy. It has been found that in the majority of cases, the person in fact has a food sensitivity and not a food allergy. People suffering from a food allergy will have a rapid reaction that is intense in nature, just from ingesting a very small amount of the offending food. If you have a food sensitivity, symptoms will appear gradually, and you may be able to eat a small amount of the offending food.
There are a number of causes for the increase in food allergies/sensitivities. These include improper immune function, decreased digestive health, repetitious exposure to food(s), and stress.
The first cause is the excessive consumption of a limited number of foods. These foods are often ingredients in prepackaged foods, so you don’t even realize that you’re consuming them. A great example of this is soy, which is found in numerous prepackaged items and is amongst the most prevalent food allergies. Other foods like wheat are daily staples of many people and can be hard to avoid.
The second cause is increased stress in our busy lives. When we are experiencing increased, our bodies have a harder time keeping the lining of the mucosal membrane in our intestines intact. Decreased intestinal protection then leads to an increase in the entrance of foreign substances into the body. Examples of these are food allergens and microbial antigens. This in turn leads to an increased likelihood of developing a food allergy/sensitivity.
Fortunately, food sensitivities are for the most part reversible. Below are good first steps to regaining your digestive health.
- The first step is increasing the diversity of foods that you are eating. This can be done gradually. Also, trying to increase the number of whole foods you are eating and limiting the prepackaged foods.
- Next is working on reducing stress in your life, this can be hard since we’re out in the world, with stressors all around us. One method is trying to find a quiet time during the day to sit, relax, and quiet your mind.
- Finally, you can start improving your digestive health by making chicken stock part of your diet, as well as fermented foods.
Overcoming a food allergy/sensitivity can be a complex process. These steps are good places to start. For further help, I would recommend seeing an herbalist or other holistic-minded health practitioner.