Food, Part 2

Have you ever noticed that you don’t feel good after eating certain foods? So what is going on in the body and what is causing the uncomfortable reaction? Surprisingly, there are several possibilities, and the ways we think or speak about them often become confusing, contradicting and sometimes just wrong.

The four main reactions are: Intolerance, Allergy, Sensitivity and Lectin Response. When you feel unwell after eating, one of these four things is going on. Sometimes we lay the blame on the wrong category.

Of the four types, three of them are an acquired type of response: allergy, sensitivity and lectin reactivity. That leaves intolerance as the only one that we are born with and received genetically. It should be said, there is some “grey area” when it comes to allergies. An anaphylaxis response, the reason to carry an EpiPen or go to the emergency room, is not to be taken lightly or challenged. Those could be life threatening. Are they genetic or actually acquired by at a very very young age? I’m going to leave that one to the geneticists and immune experts.

In general, an allergy response is the immune system responding or reacting to either a chronic or acute exposure. Allergies can develop and they can also go away. The tests that are used to measure the response are based on IgE or IgA (Immunoglobulin E or A) antibodies that are released from the immune system in reaction to the exposure. The exposure can be the well-known “seasonal allergies” (a.k.a. environmental allergies) or food allergies. The foods, even the pollen, should not cause a reaction in the body. They are not a threat, though the body perceives it as one. So if we are able to lower the immune response, the body relaxes and the threat is no longer as great.

Food sensitivity is an IgG response. Just like IgE/A, the immune system releases this in reaction to an exposure. However, it neither fits into the category of intolerance or allergy and so we call it sensitivity. But it also can be acquired, therefore it should be one that can be resolved as well.

Lectin reactivity, although considered acquired, also sits in that grey area. This has become known as the “Blood Type Diet”. It is based on certain foods not reacting well with various blood types. That makes it somewhat genetic, as it is based on blood type.

Then there is food intolerance. It is a primary form of reaction in the body. This is the one that is more “cut and dry” as a constitutional/inherited intolerance. With a food intolerance the body is not able to digest the food. There is some enzyme or enzymatic process that is not working or missing. It is possible that it could be something else, but that is our best understanding at the moment. The most “famous” intolerance is dairy. It is a true intolerance where there is an enzyme missing in the digestive tract to break down lactose.

But I’m speaking of an even “deeper” intolerance. This is one that affects the blood and possibly organs or systems that seem to have no connection with the digestive tract. Intolerance build up inflammation in the blood. To continue the dairy intolerance example, no amount of digestive enzymes or lactose free foods would help a person. Some may be lactose intolerant but not dairy intolerant. Neither can be “cured”, but the dairy intolerance is the deeper one as it affects the blood and the whole person. A person who is dairy intolerant can only solve this issue by completely removing dairy from their diet

The complexity (and vagueness) of food labeling laws in the United States, can make intolerances difficult to figure out. Unexpected ingredients are hidden “within” another ingredient making your food’s labels anything but transparent. Creating a maze to navigate in discerning what the root cause of the issue could be. But don’t despair. There are ways to identify the culprit and, once identified, ways of eating that will allow you to eliminate that ingredient. . It can be done!  It will be challenging at first, as you rework your diet, but the resulting vibrant health will be worth it!

Want to discuss these topics further and find out how you can get the answers you need? Contact me for an appointment and I’ll be happy to help you navigate your way to renewed health and vigor.