It seems that allergies (especially to food) are constantly on the rise. The list of banned foods in schools gets longer each year… and many people start their day with a 24 hour Claritin.
Well, I heard an interesting statistic today while listening to a lecture by Dr. Stephan Rechtschaffen of the Omega Institute. He states that 60% of the allergic reactions caused by food actually show up in the gut and are not visible on the body’s surface. Which essentially means that most of us could actually have many more allergies than we actually realize. This also means that these allergies can go undetected even when tested by an allergist.
Food allergies can also present themselves in such a broad range of symptoms, such as headaches, acne, gas and bloating, fatigue, hyperactivity, foggy thinking and even weight gain. It can be very difficult to figure out what your body has an aversion to, since no two people are alike.
The easiest way to find out what your unique body likes and dislikes is to go on an Elimination Diet.
*A note of caution: If you have symptoms of classic food allergies, such as hives, swelling of lips and tongue, or anaphylaxis, any re-introduction of foods into your diet should be done under the supervision of a doctor.
Elimination Diet Instructions:
Eliminate all suspect foods for two weeks. Commonly reactive foods include eggs, dairy, wheat and gluten, citrus, nightshades, soy, nuts and seeds. Also eliminate all foods that you suspect may be causing an issue. Try to eat simple, unprocessed foods that you prepare yourself during this time.
Keep track of your symptoms to see if they improve. If they don’t improve, then the food you eliminated was most likely not the problem, however symptoms observed in the first 3-4 days may be due to the detoxification process your body is going through.
If they do improve, re-introduce the food in its most basic form to see if you have a reaction. This is called a “challenge.” In the case of soy, a good challenge would be a soybean, rather than soy sauce or a food with multiple ingredients. Go slow in this process, introduce one food per day.
If your symptoms get worse after eating the food, try the process of elimination and challenge again to confirm the results. It is possible that the first time was a coincidence. For example, perhaps the food you used for your challenge is greasy and upset your stomach, but you can tolerate the food in another form.
Keeping a food journal during this process can be very helpful.
What is your intuition telling you about the foods you can or cannot tolerate? Listen to your gut!