Food Sensitivities: Humbling Yet Empowering!

I have been in private practice now for more than six years and I can’t avoid it any longer. For a long time now I have been helping people streamline their diets to suit particular disharmonies in their body based upon the nutrition of the foods, but I have done very little to screen for foods that might be contributing to the problem at hand. I have recently teamed up with Immuno-Laboratories who are leaders in food sensitivity testing. I believe this new addition to my spractice will launch me to the next level in patient care. Read on and learn some basic concepts in food sensitivity and how it is an important consideration for all health concerns.

When talking about reacting to a food it is important to understand the difference between food allergy and food sensitivity. I am primarily talking today about sensitivity. A food allergy will produce an immediate reaction which can be mild like numb lips, or mild itchiness to sever as in your throat is closing and you may die without immediate medical intervention. Peanuts and shellfish are known for these types of reactions, and people who are in this category are usually already aware of this personal reality. Sensitivity on the other hand is a much more common problem than you might think. It is thought that up to 95% of the population has some amount of food sensitivity. These types of reactions are delayed. You can literally eat something one day and not notice anything for many days later. But there is a cumulative effect that goes on with sensitivity. The idea is that more you eat of an offending food the more you will notice and suffer chronic and seemingly unrelated medical conditions.

Consider this list of potential symptoms that are directly associated with food sensitivities:

Digestion: nausea, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, belching, passing of gas,
Emotions: mood swings, anxiety, anger, depression, binge eating
Energy: fatigue, sluggishness, drowsiness, apathy, hyperactivity, restlessness
Eyes, Ears & Nose: watery/itchy eyes, ear infections, sinus problems
Heart & Lungs: irregular heartbeat, chest pain, asthma, bronchitis, congestion
Mind: poor memory/concentration, speech problems, learning disability, ADD
Muscles & Joints: general weakness, muscle/joint pain, stiffness
Skin: hives, rashes, dry skin, acne, hair loss, irritation around the eyes
Throat & Mouth: coughing, sore throat, hoarseness, sores on tongue/gums/lips
Other: excess weight, dizziness, water retention, insomnia, headaches, genital itch

Any of these sound familiar? Can you add them up and come up with one or more in each category? If so there is quite easily a food sensitivity concern for you. Finding out which foods you are sensitive to is the first step in feeling much better. If you are suffering any chronic condition I urge you to consider taking the steps to finding out what you are sensitive to in your diet. It could make a huge difference in your quality of life and may just be that one thing that finally gets you over the hump with your pain and suffering.

From my point of view as a clinician I see all kinds of chronic problems where some sort of stress on the body is contributing to the root of the problem. I often write about the interaction of the adrenal glands and the stress hormone cortisol with other systems of the body such as sex hormones. Indeed when the body is stressed all kinds of nasty things can happen with your hormones for example. Chronic pain is another mainstay in an acupuncture clinic and often has its root in chronic stress to the system. It is my obligation as a practitioner of Functional Medicine to find the hidden sources of this underlying stress and fix them so that the hormone problem or the pain can be fixed as well. Without finding the source of the stress success of the therapy will often be diminished and treatment ends up being a matter of chasing the symptoms. That becomes expensive and draining and ultimately leads to failure.

The above title mentions feeling both humbled and empowered through this process. It is humbling to find out that wheat for example may be causing you harm. Our reward centers in our brain kick in and say things like, “But I love my bagels, and my muffins! What will I do without them?” But it is important to know that when we eat these foods we release natural opiates in our brain. The poison is actually rewarding the drug addict within us. So yes, it is humbling to overcome an addiction. We are addicted to the foods that make us sick. How’s that for tough luck? But this process is also empowering because it is important for us to take control of our lives. There is power in that ability. And once you start to feel the benefits there is more enjoyment in life. This is the type of thing that can change your daily experience. You will be more inclined to exercise and spend time with your family, take vacations, etc. All it takes is the courage and follow through to create the change. Allow me to help you through this process and let’s see what changes we can make happen for you!