Many people understand that food allergies can be life threatening events, like someone eating a peanut and having an anaphylactic reaction. Severe food allergies are scary. However, these types of allergies are relatively rare. More commonly people have what is known as a food sensitivity. Food sensitivities are low-grade reactions to a food, for example gluten. This type of reaction makes it difficult to figure out the cause of miserable symptoms including bloating, constipation, weight gain, and joint pain.The exposure is often very frequent (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks) which makes pinpointing the offending food very difficult. The toll taken on the immune system over years of eating an offending food can be significant. These results can be weight gain, irritable bowel syndrome, autoimmune disorders, arthritis, even asthma.
Inflammation is a big driver of weight gain in America.Statistics show that about 1% of Americans have celiac disease but approximately 30% have non-celiac gluten intolerance. When the gut lining is inflamed, tiny holes open between the cells of the gut wall. When this happens, bacteria and partially digested food molecules get into the blood stream. Next, the immune system sees this as an invader. Then the body unleashes all of its fury. The immune system goes on full attack. White blood cells surround the molecules and inflammation ensues.
The biggest issue is that most people eat foods they are sensitive to multiple times per day. Meaning that every time food enters the body, the immune system goes crazy. But, because these are sensitivities, the symptoms are delayed up to 72 hours making identifying the offending food next to impossible. Without knowing what foods are problematic, the damage can be repeated over and over, day after day. Ultimately, inflammation progresses throughout the entire body. This inflammation sets the stage for weight gain and chronic disease.
Identifying and treating food sensitivities is a very important part of what I do. The biggest problem is that most physicians do not see the value in identifying hidden food sensitivities. This is sad because there is an ever growing body of medical research and literature that is clearly describing the very important relationship between the gut, the food we eat, and illness. If you do not want to wait for your doctor to finally get caught up to speed, find a properly trained functional medicine doctor who can run the necessary blood tests to help you identify what food sensitivities may be undermining your health.
If you are overweight, or are suffering from a chronic inflammatory disease like heart disease, diabetes, or cancer, the potential benefits of identifying your hidden food sensitivities cannot be stressed enough. While food is the biggest ally in helping to prevent illness, it can also be the biggest enemy creating chronic disease.
If you would like more information regarding any of the treatments, therapies, or services offered at The Institute of Natural Health, please contact us at (314) 293-8123 or visit us at www.inhstl.com. Dr. TJ Williams is the Clinic Director for the Institute of Natural Health and the host of the radio program Wellness 101, which provides common-sense, science-based strategies for a healthy life. Wellness 101 airs Sundays at 2:00pm on FM NewsTalk 97.1.