Do you love pasta, bread, ice-cream so much that you crave it frequently? This could be a case of food intolerance and your gut instinct going haywire. Many people suffer from food hypersensitivity and intolerance but are often unaware of it. They may love the food that they are intolerant to – even crave it.
Food sensitivities are now considered a major causative factor in many health conditions, such as eczema, bloating – even depression.
What is food intolerance?
Food intolerance is not to be confused with food allergies. A food allergy occurs when the immune system overreacts to certain food particles causing the body to mistakenly produce an antibody (IgE) to fight off the otherwise harmless antigens. The slightest exposure to the food particle is enough to trigger an uncomfortable and immediate food allergy reaction like itching, scratching or sneezing.
Food intolerance is more common and often goes unnoticed because symptoms can arise hours or days after the food is ingested. These symptoms might be as mild as gas and bloating or as severe as arthritis and chronic fatigue.
Food intolerance affects the immune system. The body produces IgG antibodies, which affect the liver and then move into weaker body tissues and get stuck there causing delayed reactions of inflammation. For example, intolerances to gluten or wheat gradually cause inflammatory antibodies to accumulate first in the intestines (which swell up) but can travel to the skin (eczema) or joints (arthritis).
Food cravings can also occur from intolerance. This happens when inflammation in the liver induced by the food intolerance causes a chemical reaction that leads to a craving for sugar mixed with the triggering food
A typical case for IMI
Mary came to the IMI clinic having developed food intolerances as an adult. On questioning, it was clear that the repeated courses of antibiotics as a child and teenager had left her with a weakened immune system. Mary now suffered from bloating, chronic muscle pains (fibromyalgia), slept badly and was – not surprisingly – feeling depressed.
Yeast or fungal infections lasting many years are an important sign that the intestines have become home to several unfriendly bacteria and fungi. For women this often shows as vaginal itching and discharge while men may have “jock itch,” especially in summer.
In Mary’s case, it transpired that she had intolerances to wheat, milk, yeast, and cola nut. Mary loved colas: to keep her energy going. Bread and sugar were the foods she craved most as both were feeding the fungal overgrowths she had inside her. Once diagnosed, her treatment plan was designed, and after 4 months Mary’s fibromyalgia improved significantly.
Food intolerance and chronic illness
Identifying food intolerances is important because it is very often linked to chronic diseases, such as fibromyalgia, eczema, asthma, arthritis pain, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue, depression and hyperactivity.
A case of food intolerance often develops in adulthood and often begins with weak immunity, which is generally induced by stress or a lack of Vitamin D, and vital minerals such as zinc or probiotic gut flora. Abnormally high levels of intestinal microorganisms can cause or worsen disorders.
Identify the culprit with functional medicine tests
A simple blood test called IgG Food Intolerance can identify IgG sensitivities to over 100 foods such as dairy, wheat, gluten, eggs, sugar, soy, meats, fish, and nuts. There is also a urine test called the Organic Acids Test (OAT), which provides a snapshot of the metabolism.
These tests can take the guesswork out of naturopathic treatments and ensure that any treatment is tailored to the individual.
How to break the cycle
The Four R Program (Remove, Replace, Repair, Regulate), devised by Graeme Bradshaw, Founding Director of IMI, is an important step to break the cycle.
The remove stage
Once the antigens are identified through the IgG test, stay away from them during the following treatment period. Only by removing the main causes of persisting symptoms can the body begin to heal.
The replace stage
Antibiotics can reduce the levels of probiotics. It is important to replace the lost friendly bacteria through supplementation e.g. Omega 3 for allergy issues and inflammation. Minerals like magnesium may also be needed if depleted by the leaky gut.
The repair stage
The next step is to repair the intestinal lining. If a “leaky Gut” is found, the hyper-permeability of the intestine needs correction via supplementation.
The regulate stage
This is about normalizing the immune system which may take up to 12 months for more severe reactions to achieve desensitization.
What to do next?
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Original article: https://www.imi.com.hk/gut-instinct-food-intolerance.html