“The food you eat can either be the safest & most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison”- a quote by Anne Wigmore a holistic health practitioner, naturopath and pioneer of her time in the mid 1900’s.
Although eating should be one of the most natural and enjoyable things we do, it is also one of the most complex aspects of human behaviours and its estimated for up to 25% of the Australian population suffer from a food intolerance or sensitivity which can mean eating for some people becomes a very unpleasant experience.
The most common foods associated with adverse reactions is gluten, egg, dairy, shellfish and nuts. However, there are many other foods- ones that are healthy- including fruits, vegetables and legumes that people can react to showing many different symptoms and reactions.
The other challenge is (unlike food allergies where the reaction occurs immediately after eating) a food intolerance or sensitivity reaction can occur 3-4 hours or even 1 day after the food has been consumed. The symptoms can vary widely and include gas, nausea, diarrhoea, constipation, bloating, brain fog, behavioural problems, joint pain & skin irritations (eczema, psoriasis). Not all of these symptoms are felt in the gut but are all most definitely linked to gut health!
Prolonged stress is also linked to an increase sensitivity towards foods. Everybody has a personal threshold, and when we are stressed, our immune system weakens and is more susceptible to infections and possible food sensitivities. If you already have a weak gut, add physical/emotional stress, sickness & poor eating habits and it can be a recipe for disaster!
If you do suspect a food intolerance might be the cause of your symptoms, one way to help identify what the trigger might be is through an elimination diet- this involves removing the suspecting food for at least 4 weeks (Although always seek professional help before removing any foods from your diet) and keep a detailed food diary to determine if your symptoms improve (or if they don’t). By removing one food group at a time you are able to know what food group it is that’s causing your issues, however its not always this straight forward as some people can be sensitive towards such a variety of foods compliance can be difficult.
A more direct and efficient way of finding out what foods you are reacting to is a food intolerance test. (We have these available at Atune health centre).
The human body is a miraculous, wonderful thing, and I always encourage clients to eat foods that nourish & nurture your body & mind. Unfortunately, these days many people eat a lot of foods that have detrimental impacts on our health and tend to ignore those niggly signs that our body is telling us (sometimes screaming at us) that something is wrong! Food can be your friend not foe- make it work for you not against you.
Written by: Michelle Barnes a Nutritionist and Wellness Coach