Could the foods you crave be making you ill?

Do you love pasta, bread, or ice-cream so much that you crave it frequently? This could be a case of food intolerance and the 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, and even crave it.

Food sensitivities are now considered a major causative factor in many health conditions such as eczema, bloating and 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. Intolerances to gluten or wheat, for example, gradually cause inflammatory antibodies to accumulate first in the intestines (which swell up), but may 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 repeated courses of antibiotics as a child and teenager had left her with a weakened immune system.  She 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—she loved colas to keep her energy going. Bread and sugar were the foods she craved, as both were feeding the fungal overgrowths she had inside her.  Once diagnosed her treatment plan was designed and after 4 months her fibromyalgia had significantly improved.

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, and even depression or 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, 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:  http://www.imi.com.hk/gut-instinct-food-intolerance.html

Graeme Bradshaw

About Graeme Bradshaw

Graeme is a highly respected Naturopath and Homeopath with over 30 years in clinical practice. He is widely recognised as one of the pioneers who brought naturopathic medicine to Hong Kong in the 90s. His expertise includes gut-brain issues, DNA assessment for disease prevention, and clinical detox programs.