Do you constantly feel ill, run-down, or suffer with inflammatory conditions or digestive problems?
In the modern world your body is being bombarded by toxins and irritants so in this section we take a look at food irritants / intolerances.
If the overload of toxins becomes too great the body will be unable to cope and ill health (in many forms) may occur.
If you’re struggling to lose weight or have health problems that are particularly linked to inflammation such as digestive problems, autoimmune conditions, skin health, arthritis or fatigue then it would definitively be worth investigating as to whether certain foods are causing you a problem.
Inflammation is complex process within the body, but think of it in 3 ways:
1: Immediate reactions such as a bee sting, allergic reaction to food or if you tiwst your ankle and swelling occurs quickly. These types of reactions are easy to see as they appear almost instantly.
2: Delayed reactions. These can occur anything from 24 – 72 hours (sometimes even a week) after the initial trigger. Food intolerances fall under this catergory which is why they can be very difficult to recognise. Something you ate on Saturday might now only be reacting on Tuesday. The entire digestion process takes about 48 hours so you can see how a reaction could occur at anytime during that window or potentially longer. Now, say you ate the same “reactive” food 3 days running i.e. bread – can be a common irritant. You have now not only got a constant reaction occuring over 3 days but also a build up of inflammation in the body which could take 7-14 days to be flushed out the system. So, you can see how potential food intolerances occur. Consume a trigger food once and you will probably be fine, maybe slightly lethargic, but consume that food every day (i.e. wheat such as bread and pasta) then you can see how that could become a real problem. On top of this, your immune system becomes hypersensitive to this trigger and the inflammatory reactions can increase over time worsening your symptoms.
3 Chronic inflammation. This is where inflammation builds up over months or years. It can occur in joints, where you experience long term pain in your knee or shoulder. But, it also occurs from your food and lifesytle choices. Above we mentioned how food intolerances can become a long term problem and gradually over time the entire body (system) can fall in to an inflammatory state – chronic inflammation. Symptoms of this can be fatigue, autoimmune diseases, digestive issues, arthritis and skin disorders and ften we then end up treating the symptom not the underlying cause i.e. a diagnoses of IBS where actually the IBS is symptom of undiagnosed food intolerance.
Of course, not everyone is going to have food intolerances but given the volume of processed food available in our modern world, it’s likely many of us will suffer to some degree – just feeling run down and tired is a common issue related to food intolerances.
We can also react to natural food, again it makes sense that not everything we eat is going to suit our body. For example, wheat and grains just don’t work me and I also limit dairy. I also think onions and potatoes are also not great matches for me too!
If you suspect a potential food trigger / intolerance then avoid the completely food for 7 – 10 days. If your symptoms lessen or go then its likely you are reacting to that food.
I would then recommed 8 – 12 weeks of complete avoidance of that food. That should allow your body a period of time to ease the immune response to that food. You can then very slowly and gradually re introduce that food and assess your symptoms. If your symptoms return then it may be advisable to avoid the food as much as you can.
One key approach to things like this, believe it or not, appears to be the pychological approach. Research shows your mindset (like a placebo effect) can have a profound on your health. For example, if I believe wheat is going to cause me a problem when I eat wheat-based food I’m likely to react. However, the question is, I have “taught” my brain this reaction over years via my belief’s or do I have a genuine wheat intolerance?! Perhaps it’s a combination of both, worsend by negative thoughts I have about wheat?
This is quite a complex theory but actually, one we can easily implement with daily positive reinforcement and positive thinking. How much of our ill health is psychological and how much is physiological? The mind is far more poweful than the body so can we retrain our minds to think and act positively to influence our health? An interesting fact from studies has shown that at least a 3rd of all people taking medication, actually improved more (and without the side effects) when taking a sugar pill than taking their medication. See, just the belief that they are taking medication is powerful enough for the body to repair itself..a very interesting area to explore isn’t it.