Why do I react badly to some foods?
Are you experiencing any unpleasant symptoms and suspect they may be food related? Digestive issues, skin flare-ups from eczema to acne, sneezing, brain fog, joint pain, even tiredness can be caused or exacerbated by a reaction to certain foods.
Food intolerance is the inability to digest certain foods, mainly to a lack of the specific enzyme; it is not immune mediated. The most common one is lactose intolerance; that’s because as we age, our intestines produce less lactase (the enzyme necessary for digesting lactose, a type of sugar in milk). Only about 35% of people worldwide can actually digest lactose beyond the age of 7 or 8, still many people in the West consume vast amounts of dairy. Even if bloating may be a “low” price to pay for that must-have morning latte or a long-craved ice-cream. Pour bodies produce all sorts of differenceenzymes, specific to particular substrates. If your body does not produce enough of the enzymes necessary to digest the amount of a certain food you are eating, you may experience uncomfortable symptoms. Although intolerances are not serious disease in itself, the inflammation produced may have more complex, long-term consequences, as it may lead to mal- absorption, loss of nutrients, weakness, fatigue, and increased susceptibility to diseases.
Food allergy is a reaction caused when the immune system incorrectly identifies a protein the food as harmful. Coeliac disease, for instance, is caused by an allergy to gluten. Food allergies can produce severe reactions and can be life-threatening. If you re allergic to a certain food you should definitely avoid it.
Food sensitivities appear when exposure to certain foods create an immune reaction (although not IgE-mediated) that generates a multitude of symptoms. These are not life-threatening but can be quite disruptive. An elimination diet can help find offending foods. If addressed properly, food sensitivities can fade away with time, as the gut lining heals and the microbiome is rebalanced.
Removing certain foods believed to cause reactions from the diet for two to four weeks, reintroducing them one by one, and watching for symptoms is the current gold standard to pin down what may be causing symptoms. This so-called “elimination diet” is not high-tech, and it is far from perfect. A physician or nutritionist can provide guidance for undertaking an elimination diet, and can help you understand limitations and avoid possible pitfalls. Removing certain foods can help stave off undesirable symptoms and improve your quality of life.
Food reactions are common but they can be challenging to understand. Identifying the offending food and body reaction can be time-consuming but it is worth the effort.