One man’s meat is another man’s poison.
This phrase, first written by the Roman poet Lucretius, was used in reference to any situation where two people disagree over something.
More and more we are hearing about the potential ill effects brought about by the quality of our food. Chemical alteration, genetic modification, and other manipulation of what were once nutritious whole foods, has led to a huge spike in food allergies or food sensitivities and intolerances.
Food reactions are more prevalent than you may think, largely in part because they go unnoticed by the sufferer. Feelings of low energy or fatigue, brain fog, and what I see daily in my practice – inflammatory and neuropathic pain of the joints, muscles, and spine – all can be a result of problems with the food you are putting on your plate multiple times a day.
What is the difference between a food allergy and a food intolerance or sensitivity?
Often these terms get lumped into the same bucket, but they are quite different.
Food allergy – A food allergy is a more significant response from the immune system and can be life-threatening. An example would be an anaphylactic reaction from peanuts.
Food sensitivity or intolerance – Here the symptoms are less serious but are much more common (as described above) and can present with symptoms in any system of your body.
How is the gut connected to the immune system response?
The digestive track has been referred to as “the seat of the immune system” because the two are intimately involved. The gut lining works as a primary barrier of defense, and the immune system cells within the gut wall work as a second barrier checkpoint.
This defense system can be compromised by what is known as a leaky gut. A normal, healthy intestine has walls with tight junctions, allowing only small food molecules such as vitamins, simple sugars and amino acids to pass through into the bloodstream to be delivered to the rest of the body. When the gut becomes overly permeable, larger molecules, toxins, bacteria and bits of undigested waste pass through into the blood stream.
What are the most common causes of leaky gut?
- Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen, Naprosyn, and aspirin
- Antacid medications
- Alcohol and caffeine
- Food additives, preservatives and chemicals
- Allergies to food
- Chronic infections within the bowel itself – Ex. H. Pylori, Clostridium Diffiicile, Candidiasis
- Diets high in refined flours, sugars and other processed foods
If you have leaky gut, you may experience a range of symptoms such as fatigue, joint and muscle pain, pain and bloating in the abdomen, skin rashes, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and depression.
When the defense system of your gut and immune system are compromised it triggers a response in the body. The larger food molecules can even by seen as foreign invaders threatening your health. The immune reaction triggered by each daily exposure can lead to chronic digestion problems, autoimmune diseases and additional food allergies as the gut and immune system become overwhelmed by daily attacks.
There are several action steps you can take to begin healing.
The key is to remove anything that may be contributing to your condition. This can be done by systematic elimination and monitoring of your symptoms, but is much more quickly accomplished with the right test to detect the food and chemical reactions.
Once known the offending foods, chemicals, or other potential toxins can be eliminated from you diet to allow the gut and immune system to recover. At the same time you will feed your body what it needs to begin repairing the damage.
The pathway to healing your gut and immune system:
- Remove all offending foods detected on your test ENTIRELY for 3-6 months. Even a small exposure following “a little bit won’t hurt” mentality will compromise the healing process
- Stop using all anti-inflammatory drugs. They wreck your gut and cause nutritional depletion, increase your risk of ulcers, and other complications such as kidney disease.
- Eliminate alcohol and caffeine from your diet.
- Wash your food thoroughly before preparation, chew your food thoroughly and take a digestive enzyme to aid digestion.
- Take probiotics to increase the number of friendly microbes in your intestines.
- Eat at least nine servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
- Eliminate refined foods such as white flour, sugar and other processed foods as much as possible
- Drink plenty of filtered water.
If you are struggling with symptoms that “the doctors can’t figure out” you may need to consider treating your (gastrointestinal and immune) systems, rather than continuing to chase the symptoms of compromised systems.
You are biochemically unique. Generalizing treatment to everyone may help a fraction of people out there suffering with “mysterious symptoms”, but additional testing combined with the suggestions above will likely get to the root cause of the issue.
Remember, one man’s meat can truly be poison to your body.