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Could You Have a Food Allergy or Intolerance?

      Do you suffer from bloating, constipation, diarrhea, or stomach pain and cramps??  If you answered yes to any of these questions you are not alone.  Many people suffer from these uncomfortable and sometimes embarrassing symptoms.  When we talk with family and friends many of them also experience the same problems, further leading us to believe that these symptoms are normal.  However, these symptoms are often an indication of an underlying food sensitivity or allergy.

     Food sensitivities/allergies can also cause problems beyond the digestive system.  People who suffer with chronic sinus infections, seasonal allergies, fatigue, chronic rashes/eczema, headaches or joint aches and pains often find relief by simply avoiding foods their bodies are sensitive to.

     It is possible for a person to be sensitive to any food but the most common ones include dairy, wheat/gluten, corn, soy and nightshade vegetables.  Food sensitivities can develop for many reasons including over consuming a particular food or lacking enzymes necessary to digest particular proteins.

     Dairy and wheat lead to food sensitivities due to inability to digest these foods properly.  People with dairy allergies have an inability to properly digest the casein proteins in the milk or they may lack the enzyme lactase, preventing their bodies from digesting the lactose sugar in the milk.  When our bodies do not digest lactose it becomes food for bad bacteria and yeast that live in our gut.  This can lead to overgrowth of yeast leading to chronic Candida/yeast infections.   The bad bacteria also produce methane or gas as they consume the lactose, leading to bloating, cramping and diarrhea.

     The nightshade family of vegetables including eggplant, white potatoes, tomatoes, green, yellow and red peppers, hot peppers and tobacco contain naturally occurring alkaloids.  These alkaloids are poisonous to insects, and although they are not poisonous to people they can cause serious health problems for those who are sensitive to them.  These symptoms include joint pain, nervous system disorders, digestive problems, loss of calcium in bone, increase of calcium in soft tissue, as well as other health related problems.

     For other foods such as corn and soy, sensitivities often arise due to over exposure to these foods.  Soy and corn are present in many packaged and prepared foods resulting in our immune system and digestive system being constantly exposed to them.  Over time, constant exposure to these foods leads to our immune system developing a heightened sensitivity to the proteins contained within these foods.   Our bodies can then start having negative reactions to these foods, resulting in headaches, joint pains, digestive complaints, and other signs of allergies.

     If you suspect you may have symptoms of a food allergy it is best to keep a food diary, log of how you feel and how your digestive system is functioning.  Begin by eliminating one of the most common food allergens for 3 weeks, and keep track of how you feel.  After three weeks reintroduce the food and see if your old symptoms return.  If they do this is an indication you have a sensitivity/allergy to the food.  If you require further assistance determining food allergies, please speak with your physician/holistic practitioner or contact me at the Bozeman Wellness Center.

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