According to Allergy UK an estimated 45% of the UK adult population have food intolerances and a further 2% suffer an allergy.
Symptoms of food intolerance can vary from mild bloating and wind to severe migraines, low mood, fatigue, diarrhoea, constipation, and skin rashes, with the effects often not being visible until 2 or 3 days after a problem food has been eaten.
Diagnosis of food intolerance can be tricky especially if a reaction to the food doesn’t occur immediately. Keeping a ‘Food, Mood & Movement Tracker’ for a month can help as it may be possible to notice links between what has been eaten and any symptoms that later occur. Observing lifestyle factors such as stress and sleep patterns is also important. For women, symptoms may be influenced by the menstrual cycle.
Food intolerances can be caused by different factors, including;
– Inadequate digestion: for example low levels of lactase, the enzyme that digests the milk sugar lactose, can cause lactose intolerance.
– Excess histamine: we all have histamine in our bodies as it’s a vital chemical messenger and neurotransmitter BUT chronic stress and poor digestion can impair histamine breakdown causing levels to build up. Eating foods high in histamine can then cause problems.
– Reactions to pesticides in foods: your liver has a hard time dealing with pesticide residues and their pervasive effects can contribute to all kinds of health issues. Organic foods may not be widely available (or affordable) but do choose them if you can.
The Environmental Working Group produce a fantastic ‘Dirty Dozen & Clean Fifteen’ list detailing which foods are best bought organic due to high pesticide load, and which are okay to eat as non-organic. You can access the guide here.
– Reactions to naturally occuring compounds like alkaloids in the Deadly Nightshade family.
– An imbalanced response by your immune system. Our immune system is a complex team of cells and chemical messengers that can overreact to certain proteins in foods, causing either a strong immediate life-threatening reaction (an allergic response) or a more low-grade chronic response: a food sensitivity or intolerance.
It is thought that Ig-G antibodies are involved in some kinds of sensitivity reactions. Measuring levels of Ig-G can give clues as to which foods may be over-stimulating the immune system.
In Clinic I use a simple pin-prick ELISA blood test to help identify whether your immune system is producing too many Ig-G antibodies to certain foods, which may then be aggravating your symptoms. There are a range of tests available from the basic Food Detective Test that looks at reactions to the top 59 reactive foods and gives results within an hour, to the more in-depth FoodPrint tests which are laboratory analysed.
To find out more information on food intolerances or ELISA testing, call or email me today on;
T: 07910 705272
Earlier this year I looked at the effects of CFS and why people choose Nutritional Therapy as a way of managing their symptoms. Now lets look at some of the Nutritional Therapy ideas and techniques:
– Optimising digestive function; this is the first step in a treatment plan because nothing else will get better if the digestive system cannot effectively absorb nutrients! All the pills in the world will be useless if they aren’t absorbed! So, symptoms of bloating, indigestion, constipation, diarrhoea and stool formation are looked at. Often, digestive enzymes and good quality beneficial bacteria are recommended to support the breakdown of food and absorption of nutrients.
– The ‘friendly’ gut bacteria; the millions of bacteria in our gut do more than digest food, they also regulate our immune response so they need plenty of support. Supplements of beneficial flora and naturally fermented foods are most helpful.
– Easy to digest foods; when the body is fatigued and struggling, lots of raw foods can be overwhelming. Eating soups, stews and broths makes the job of digestion easier.
– Foods rich in energy nutrients; we look at food sources of magnesium, B-vitamins, essential fats and antioxidants.
– Hydration; drinking plenty of water and hydrating foods before cooking them; soaking grains, nuts, seeds and pulses means they bring more hydration into the body.
– Investigating food intolerances; for some clients, this proves incredibly helpful and can go a long way in supporting their recovery. A range of tests are available, please contact me for more information.
– Once the digestion is settled and a food plan is in place, we look at certain supplements which may be beneficial. These may include a comprehensive vitamin & mineral formula, magnesium spray, malic acid, vitamin D3, COQ10 – it all depends on the clients individual symptoms.
– Relaxation techniques; these are paramount for recovery from CFS. The body needs to be able to relax deeply, every day in order to allow healing and repair processes to take place. Frequently, CFS has developed after prolonged stress and the body is crying out for relaxation and nourishment. Mindfulness practises, yoga, deep breathing, massage, hypnosis – there are many techniques to try!
This is a snapshot of some of the ways Nutritional Therapy works with CFS. If you have any questions or would like to discuss your own health with me, please do drop me an email or call on 07910 705272. Its a mobile number so if you would prefer me to call you back, please leave me a message with your number.
Over the past few months I have seen several clients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and each had their own unique symptoms and story to tell about their journey with the condition. For some, their condition was the end result of a long chain of stresful events that led to burn-out and severe fatigue. For others, an illness preceeded their symtoms, as if the infection never really left their system and instead mutated into the symptoms of CFS.
The main symtoms they all spoke of was the unrelenting fatigue, always there no matter how much sleep they had. The fatigue was accompanied by a mixture of:
– Muscle & joint pains
– Swollen lymph glands
– ‘brain fog’ – difficulty in concentrating and memory recall
– Sensitivity to light, sounds and smells
– Food intolerances
– Digestive symptoms similar to Irritable Bowel Syndrome
– Low mood & depression
Each client had felt ill for a long time as a diagnosis of CFS is generally made by a process of elimination; once other possibilities such as hypothyroidism, adrenal problems and anaemia are ruled out, CFS may be confirmed.
So, why come for Nutritional Therapy?
What we eat, how we eat and when we eat affects every function in our body. As soon as disease occurs it is crucial to look at how we are fuelling ourselves and whether foods can be used in a more supportive way, to support energy production, energy stability and mood balance.
Nutritional therapy can:
– Investigate potential food sensitivities and intolerances that may be unnecessarily stressing the immune system and causing inflammation
– Optimise digestive function; we are what we absorb!
– Reduce nutritional ‘stressors’ – alcohol, caffeine, refined foods and sugar: simple, rapidly absorbed sugars not only mess up blood sugar regulation, they can suppress the activity of our neutrophils (white blood cells forming part of the first line of defence in the immune system) for up to 5 hours! http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/26/11/1180.abstract
– Introduce foods rich in magnesium, B- vitamins, vitamin C, D3, zinc, and essential fatty acids – all crucial for energy production, nervous system support and healthy metabolism
Look out for Part 2 of this article for tips on foods and techniques to help manage symptoms…