“You have food allergies,” says your doctor.
If you’ve ever left speechless from a doctor’s office after being told you have allergies, keep reading. If you’ve ever spent hours on the throne (not the good kind!) from something you’ve eaten, keep reading, If you’ve ever had a skin allergy test and had your back covered in big red itchy welts, you know how frustrating it can be to realize your favorite foods are making your sick. This post is for you.
Food allergies and sensitivities are becoming an epidemic. It is now estimated that 1 in 5 Americans now have some sort of food allergy! A recent study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found that ER visits at Children’s Hospital Boston for allergic reactions more than doubled from 2001 to 2006! What could be causing all these reactions?
Well, there are many theories, from the infiltration of genetically modified foods to our obsession with anti-bacterial everything in an effort to sterilize our environment. But everybody is in agreement on one thing: Up until about 50 years ago allergies were rare, and now they are rampant.
Inside our intestines (where the digestion of our food primarily takes place), are little organisms called good bacteria that helps us digest and absorb our food. We want this good bacteria. We NEED it. Many things can cause our intestinal flora to be thrown off balance. Stress, illness, a sterile environment, prescription medication, antibiotics and even eating a Standard American Diet (SAD) including genetically modified foods (GMOs) can reduce the number of healthy gut bacteria. It’s probably safe to say that living in the time period we’re living in means our digestive system are a bit out of whack.
The WIDE variety of symptoms associated with food allergies or food sensitivities:
- Gluten Intolerance
- IBS or Crohn’s Disease
- Gas or bloating
- Joint pain and stiffness
- Autism (Click here to read some fascinating research on the gut-Autism connection)
- Asperger’s Syndrome
- ADD or ADHD
- Delayed speech or development
- Frequent colds and flus
- Sinus and ear congestion
- Seasonal allergies
- Auto-immune disorders
As crazy as it may seem that food allergies are causing all of this, we must first understand how the body reacts when a food is interpreted as a foreign harmful substance.
What is happening? Why does my stomach hate me?
Have you ever wondered how your body became allergic or sensitive to a food in the first place? To understand how this happened, you must first understand dysbiosis. You might know it by its other name, “leaky gut syndrome.”
To put it simply, having this syndrome means that at some time your body’s intestinal flora and wall became compromised. Stress, illness, an overly sterile environment, prescription medication, antibiotics, and genetically modified foods all reduce the good bacteria and break down the wall in our intestinal tract. Essentially, you’ve developed a “leaky gut.”
A leaky gut is no bueno. Why? Because our food was not meant to be absorbed into our bloodstream until it has been broken down into the correct nutrients. If a food particle (like from that sandwich you ate) gets absorbed into your bloodstream at the wrong time, all hell breaks loose. Your body cannot recognize that food particle. It’s viewed like a foreign substance and your immune system tags it as BAD. Next time you eat that food, your body raises up the red flag and attacks.
Did you know that Nexium and Prevacid, medications prescribed for stomach problems, are the 2nd and 3rd most medications prescribed in 2012? Yikes. Lots o’ people are getting their stomachs in knots. It’s time to get off the drugs and heal that gut!
Avoiding the Culprit is NOT the Cure.
But no worries. Today I’m going to give you 3 surprising ways to heal that gut of yours and get rid of those food allergies/sensitivities.
#1 Eat Homemade Fermented Foods/Beverages
“In the normal scheme of things, we’d never have to think twice about replenishing the bacteria that allow us to digest food. But since we’re living with antibiotic drugs and chlorinated water and antibacterial soap and all these factors in our contemporary lives that I’d group together as a ‘war on bacteria,’ if we fail to replenish [good bacteria], we won’t effectively get nutrients out of the food we’re eating.”– Sandor Katz
Our ancestors were smarty pants. They knew fermented foods were the key to a healthy gut, and therefore a healthy body.
Fermenting beverages and fermented foods have been dated as far back as 4,000 BC. The fermentation process kept food for longer times, allowing cultures to sustain themselves through the winter. Bread, cheese, pickles, yogurt – these were all fermented properly long before the industrialization of food. When we stopped canning in the home and purchasing canned goods from the store, we lost the art of lacto-fermentation. Our ancestors had jars of sauerkraut and lacto-fermented cucumber pickles stored in the cellar. Today the store-bought versions do not carry beneficial bacteria to the same extent that they used to. Today, (especially in America due to lack of culture-specific foods) we’re just not getting enough beneficial bacteria from these foods.
You’ve probably heard of probiotics before, and have chuckled at the Jamie Lee Curtis commercials promoting Activia yogurt. Well, Miss Jaime Lee Curtis is both right and wrong. While yogurt with probiotics helps to improve your digestion, store bought versions are not optimal. Your body needs two things: PREBIOTICS and PROBIOTICS. Without these foods, your body cannot perform efficient digestion.
Probiotics help colonize your gut with essential bacteria. Prebiotics help feed that good bacterium. Together they help you have a superhero system.
GOOD SOURCES OF PROBIOTICS (Choose 2 or 3 to incorporate into your diet):
Natural Yeast/Sourdough Bread
Raw aged cheese
Milk Yogurt and Milk Kefir
Water Kefir (a.k.a. Homemade Soda Pop)
Fermented and cultured vegetables (recipes here)
Probiotic supplements (I recommend the Bio-Kult brand), in addition to a homemade probiotic
GOOD SOURCES OF PREBIOTICS (Choose 2 or 3 to incorporate into your diet):
Endive and dandelion greens
Wheat, properly prepared
#2 Eat Gelatinous Foods
Along with including homemade probiotic and prebiotic foods in your diet, it’s equally important to include grass fed gelatin as well. Gelatin heals and seals the mucosal lining of the intestinal tract, and aids in the assimilation of nutrients. It’s also an easily digestible protein that works as an anti-inflammatory as well. Gelatin is VITAL to heal a damaged gut.
There are a few ways you can incorporate gelatin into your diet, like these:
- You can obtain gelatin from homemade bone broth, eating whole fat meats, and using the drippings to make gravy.
- Grass-fed gelatin powder can be perfect for adding to other foods. The best powdered brands are made from grass-fed animals. I use the beef unflavored gelatin for use in puddings and other desserts. It gels up nicely, just like regular Jell-O.
- Grass-fed gelatin powder also comes in a hydrolysate formula. This formula doesn’t congeal in liquid, so it’s an easy way to take gelatin as a daily supplement.
Did you know that our bodies can withstand years of poor nutrition, but if we go more than 11 days without sleep we DIE? It’s true. People who have tried to set a world record longer than 11 days have actually died! Sleep deprivation is so damaging to the body that it is used as a form of torture! Isn’t it amazing how we spend so much time analyzing our diets, yet we forget about the quality and quantity of our sleep? You can’t torture your body during the night, but expect it to perform miracles during the day.
The benefits of maintaining a Super Digestive System:
- Leaky Gut symptoms are resolved.
- The body is able to digest sugars, proteins, minerals and fats with ease.
- Digestive issues like bloating, gas, diarrhea and constipation resolve themselves.
- Strong intestinal lining to help block out pathogens, allergens and toxins.
- Strong immune system.
- The gut overpowers growth of bad bacteria and certain microorganisms like yeast (candida).
Should I avoid my food sensitivities/allergies while healing?
The answer to this question really depends on your body. Some people have minor sensitivities while others have major allergies.
For skin issues, including eczema and psoriasis, you can read more about my friend Emily’s amazing protocol that healed her daughter’s extreme eczema. Click here to check out her book.
For severe allergies or neurological problems like autism, it may do you well to look into the healing diet of the GAPS diet. It was created by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, a neurologist who healed her son’s autism by healing his leaky gut syndrome. You can find her book and intro guide here.
If you’re on the fence about whether you should jump on the GAPS diet or simply follow these 3 rules, check out my friend Cara’s article here for more clarification. She’s the expert!