Are you experiencing occasional or constant digestive upset? Constipation or diarrhea (or bouts of both), nausea, vomiting, flatulence, or even pain in your stomach and intestines?
If so, these are signs you may have a food allergy or intolerance.
Other, not so obvious signs are rashes (eczema or psoriasis), extreme fatigue, headaches, aches and pains, weakened immune system, dark circles under the eyes (aka allergy shiners), congestion, and sinus issues, to name a few.
Underlying those are more serious issues that could relate to malabsorption. When you are eating foods you are allergic or have an intolerance to, you damage the lining of your intestinal walls. Approximately 70% of your immune system is contained in your digestive tract, which includes your intestines. That’s also where you absorb the nutrients so critical for your body to function: vitamins, minerals, amino acids, trace-, macro and micro minerals, etc. If you aren’t absorbing these properly it opens up a whole host of health issues. Especially the longer it goes undetected.
When you suspect an issue with a food intolerance or allergy, the easiest and least expensive way to test your theory is to do an elimination diet.
An elimination diet is a temporary diet during which you remove specific foods for a specified amount of time, generally 3-6 weeks. Foods are then reintroduced one at a time, allowing you to assess the impact on your body.
The most amazing aspect of an elimination diet is the immediacy of feeling the positive results of removing the offending food(s)! For examples, sinus or seasonal issues may disappear or lessen dramatically, energy levels increase, headaches diminish, along with your digestive upset.
It is amazing how different and better you will feel. That, in and of itself, is what will keep you from eating foods that can cause such unpleasant symptoms.
How do I begin my elimination diet?
First, remove the top 10-12 foods to which most people are allergic or intolerant.
Top Common Allergens:
Gluten (wheat, rye, barley, and oat) Dairy
Fish and/or shellfish
Possibly other grains (grain intolerant)
Processed and packaged foods
You remove the foods all at once. I have listed them in order of importance. So, if you think you can’t possibly do the entire list, do the top ones, or ones you may suspect you have an issue with.
You will remove the foods for 3-6 weeks, being careful not to consume them at all. This means that you will need to read package labels. For this short elimination diet, you should pay attention to the list of allergens listed in bold at the end of the ingredients list or in parentheses (U.S. labeling).
If you later find out you have an issue with a food(s), you will need to pay more attention to overall ingredient lists. Foods will have multiple names and get hidden within the ingredients.
Then, after those 3-6 weeks, introduce ONE food at a time every 2-3 days. Notice and record your reactions to them. They should be pretty immediate. Maybe you’ll have instant congestion, sneezing, runny nose, itchy ears or throat, headache, digestive upset, diarrhea or constipation.
The list goes on, but you will notice a reaction of some sort. If you find yourself having a reaction, this is a food you will need to avoid for awhile, unless it’s a true food allergy. True food allergies are life-long allergies. You’ll notice a reaction to them regardless of how long you have avoided them. If it’s only an intolerance or sensitivity, you will be able to eventually tolerate that food every once in a while down the road. Depending on the severity of the damage, it could be a few months to a couple of years.
But don't worry. It is amazing how different and better you will feel! That, in and of itself, is what will keep you from eating foods that can cause such unpleasant symptoms.
It may seem overwhelming at first. But it doesn't have to be. Remember this is short term, and the results will be worth the effort. If you do realize you have sensitivities. Just remember to take one. day. at. a. time.
If you would like to get tested, or it is a requirement for school or daycare, based on my research and the preference of all the specialists my family has seen, IgG blood testing will offer you the most accurate results. It will pick up food allergies as well as food intolerances. Food intolerances can be missed on the custom skin prick testing. If you want to get IgG tested, I would recommend seeing a functional medicine doctor or a naturopath.
If you have questions, please contact me.
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* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.