Many seemingly innocuous symptoms can actually be traced back to food intolerances and/or nutrient deficiencies. Depression, mood swings, fatigue, cravings, muscle aches, joint pain, dark circles or bags under the eyes, streaks or white spots on fingernails, headaches, insomnia, autoimmune diseases, indigestion, leaky gut, bloating, nasal congestion, allergies, constipation, diarrhea, water retention, candida, rashes, and skin problems. And the list goes on.
So, what’s a food intolerance? It’s different from a food allergy which is a reaction of the body’s immune system to a protein. A food intolerance, or sensitivity, can occur because of any food, food ingredient, or additive. Reactions usually start in the digestive system and can radiate out to all parts of the body. Sometimes people can eat small amounts of the item without noticing an immediate reaction. But, continued ingestion causes inflammation to increase, and your immune system become compromised, leading to a large variety of systems, including many of the “chronic” issues.
The most common foods that cause a reaction are: peanuts and tree nuts, milk and diary products, sugar and artificial sweeteners, fish and shellfish, soy, corn, wheat and gluten, and eggs. There are many people that are also intolerant to MSG, food dyes, beer, wine, sulfites, and other food preservatives.
How do you identify your personal “trigger” foods? If you have the money you can run a food sentivity test (IgG) which is different from a food allergy test (IgE). It will give you a graph of the foods that cause inflammation in your body. It can be very helpful, but it is only able to show a small piece of what is happening within the body.
You can complete a self test for free. Dr. Arthur Coca popularized the “pulse test”. He found that some, but definitely not all, people with allergies and intolerances had a significant increase in their resting pulse after eating the food in question. Sit and relax, take your resting pulse for a full minute, put a piece of the potential trigger food on your tongue (do not swallow the food), wait for 30 seconds, retake your pulse for a full minute, discard tested ingredient. An increase of 6 or more beats is considered the result of a stressful reaction.
You can also keep a food journal noting any emotional, physical, digestive change after each meal. Then you can try to identify the offending foods. You can also monitor your weight. Some people have noticed that trigger foods cause them to retain fluids identified by weight gain that doesn’t disappear by the next day.
Both of these are simplified methods but can be very helpful. Unfortunately there can be triggers that don’t affect weight or pulse. In these instances you will have to complete an elimination diet in order to identify the offenders. This type of diet can cause a withdrawal reaction similar to other addictive substances such as caffeine, alcohol, or nicotine so it is best to seek a professional support person, if possible.