Do you have food sensitivities? Are you avoiding any foods at the moment? If so, perhaps it’s because you think you’re intolerant to them or believe that your tummy is over-sensitive. I’ve written this blog post to help you feel more hopeful about your future with food!
What are food sensitivities?
Some people experience unpleasant reactions caused by particular foods. Figuring out which foods might be causing your symptoms can be simple for some people and difficult for others. It can depend on a few things: what their symptoms are, how quickly their symptoms appear after eating the food and which food(s) is causing the issue. This is very different from an allergy. Find out more about the difference between food intolerance and food allergies here.
Is it actually an intolerance?
You start to produce digestive enzymes in your saliva when you start cooking your food, smelling the foods and then when you start eating. But when you start to eat on the move, you don’t produce the levels you need. There is a lack of digestive enzymes due to our faster busy lifestyles.
The result? Foods aren’t being broken down enough by the time they reach the small intestine. You feel bloated, gassy, a bit rubbish – and it’s often mistaken for a food intolerance. And that assumption means that we tend to cut out certain foods from our diet altogether.
It’s important to understand that, usually, food intolerance is simply a symptom of a very unhappy gut. So instead of cutting out loads of foods, it really is a case of rebalancing the gut alongside dietary changes. Putting in enzyme support and supporting digestive juices and stomach acid, calming our nervous system and supporting a healthy balance of bacteria in our gut.
It’s important that we check whether you’re eating mindfully, chewing every mouthful, and breaking food down before it reaches your small intestine.
Chewing leaves food small enough for the gastric juices in your stomach to further mulch it down and eventually reduce it to microscopic size. Once it’s broken down enough, the nutrients and fluids are then absorbed into your gastrointestinal tract.
But if you don’t chew properly, you are less likely to be getting nutritional value from your meals and therefore more likely to overeat, leading to further tummy problems and weight gain.
Take a moment to reflect on how you’ve been eating recently. Have you been sitting down and focusing on your food, or have you been shovelling food in at your desk in between Zoom calls? Or do you tend to eat while commuting? Perhaps this is impacting on your tummy…
Are you stressed out?
We need to think about whether you’re feeling stressed, because stress shuts down your digestion – you won’t be making acids and enzymes as you should. Instead you’ll be making stress hormones, like adrenalin and cortisol. Together with signals from the autonomic nerves, this causes a change in your digestive process and can mean that your body thinks it should be running to safety. The stomach and food pipe (oesophagus) can spasm as blood is diverted away from the gut to power your muscles in a bid to deal with the stressful situation.
Digestion can slow down (constipation) or lead to sudden evacuations (diarrhoea) meaning you may not absorb nutrients from your food effectively. You may also start to feel uncomfortable in your stomach because stress decreases prostaglandins which protect your stomach from acid so you may feel more sensitive (in severe cases this could lead to gastritis and acid reflux).
So is it an intolerance, or have you been super stressed recently and your gut is knocked off balance?
How to heal your gut
You’ll be pleased to hear that the cells of the intestinal lining replace themselves every few days. If it is food intolerance, you might not have to avoid those trigger foods forever. You could eliminate them temporarily—for a couple of months—but during that time, you want to be building in support to optimise your digestive enzymes, stomach acids, mindful eating, lifestyle and cleaning up the diet in general. Prolonged stress can alter your gut bacteria. You want to be supporting the lining of the gut and balancing the bacteria in the gut, so you can reintroduce those foods.
Most people completely eliminate the food they believe they have an intolerance to but neglect to take care of their gut health. They continue as they were before — eating on the go, rushing meals, and not producing enough digestive enzymes. Therefore, they don’t see a reduction in bloating or gas and become more and more reactive to multiple foods.
The time is now
Left untreated, this can then result in leaky gut – where the lining of the gut becomes permeable (leaky) and the food molecules that aren’t digested properly are filtering through into the blood stream and that sets off an inflammatory cascade. Our body’s immune system is expecting to see fully digested foods (like proteins broken down into amino acids) but suddenly it sees foreign, (partially digested) molecules. So it does what it is designed to do – attack and defend.
This is when we may start to see joint pain or brain fog – because the inflammation becomes systemic. And that means it takes longer to heal and sort out. As a result we can feel unwell, inflamed and anxious.
What to do next...
With my trusted 5 R process, we temporarily remove the trigger foods, then begin to replace the enzymes, we work to repair the gut lining, start to replenish the bacteria, and rebalance the gut.
So if you’re really sensitive to certain foods, then 3 months working together is exactly what you need. We figure out what works for you, all while healing your gut in the process. Don’t assume you have an intolerance, it could be that your cortisol levels are high and that is causing you to be gassy and bloated. Working with a qualified nutritional therapist will allow you to discover what’s really going on in your tummy and help you to feel better without giving up the enjoyment of food!
Read more about how I can support you to heal your gut and start to live a happier and healthier life with less tummy troubles. Find out more here.
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