Want to Feel Better? Investigate Food Intolerance

I’m feeling and looking much bette after discovering, then eliminating, foods my body had an acute intolerance to.

Unlike a food allergy which causes an immediate reaction, the effects of a food intolerance occur hours or days later.

Long term consumption of foods your body doesn’t like leads to chronic inflammation with many unpleasant symptoms: nausea, irregularity, celiac disease, eczema, asthma, depression, hyperactivity, and migraines.

Gluten Intolerance: A Known Condition
I’d discovered my gluten-wheat problem 6 years ago, after acting on a friend’s suggestion. Her sister had symptoms just like mine before she stopped eating it. Several days later, I realized how sluggish I’d been for so long. Thereafter, events in my gastro-intestinal (GI) tract calmed down considerably and the glazed donut effect of flaking skin on my nose vanished forever.

How did my doctor figure out whether my problem was a gluten intolerance versus the much more serious Celiac disease? He administered a mild sedative, then threaded a tube with a camera down my esophagus, stomach and into my small intestine. The absence of erosion meant only an intolerance. I was lucky.

I then conducted a wide-ranging investigation on which foods, sauces and gravies contained wheat: um, practically everything. Notables included soy sauce and Swiss Chalet gravy. Meals outside my place decreased dramatically.

Wheat’s Different Forms
The wheat family of grains is extensive: rye, oats, barley, hops (bye-bye beer), spelt, kamut, Eikhorn and Triticale. What changed wheat from a staple consumable to a dangerous commodity? Endless crossing of wheat strains and the addition of gluten to baking production in the 1950s, to extend shelf life, is what I’ve read.

If you’re curious about other families of flours and gluten-free varieties, you may consult the Getting Started with Health Eating website to find out more.

Milk: No Longer ‘The Perfect Food’
Lactose intolerance surfaced 4 years later after I consulted a Naturopath. Her week-long elimination diet removed known food irritants such as milk, sugar and caffeine from my menu.

<img src="snickers.jpg" alt="Snickers bar" />
Farewell, old friend
Lactose and sugar were proven to be causing acne, so a low (sugar) glycemic diet was implemented. As 1 teaspoon of sugar equates to around 5 grams, a Snickers bar with 47 grams of sugar contains a staggering 9 teaspoons per bar. That’s more than 1 day’s limit! Farewell, old friend.

My curiosity about sugar led me to YouTube and there I found numerous educational videos on the dangers of excessive sugar in our diets. Here’s one from TED:

Another finding: coffee intake was linked to rosacea, a hereditary skin condition causing redness around my nose and forehead. Minimizing or eliminating intake (oh no-o-o-o…) solved the problem.

A year passed and my knees had begun to really ache, especially on stairs. Recalling that my father had to stop eating grapefruits because of knee pain, I renewed my inquries.

The answer came from Deborah Maier, a Holistic Lifestyle coach, who suggested Red Paw Data Services in Toronto. This firm operates a testing facility for many types of sensitivities, including food.

redpaw3Their “non-invasive computerized, electro-dermal” (a band around one of my fingers) screening process tests 316 food and food ingredients. A broad range of criteria includes: meats, fish and seafood, sauces, spreads, soda pop, fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices, and widely consumed commercial products like peanut butter.

Change is a’ Coming
My test results indicated major dietary adjustments were in order. The “99” scores below do not constitute an A+ mark but instead the degree of intolerance, out of a 100.
<img src="redpaw2.jpg" alt="Food intolerance test" />

For the record, I no longer indulge in tomatoes (a staple in most slow cooker recipes and Italian dishes), all varieties of peppers (Bell, sweet, chili, Jalapenos, pimento, capsicum), baker’s yeast (no bread, period), limit my chocolate (cocoa), and oranges, to name a few.

Proof Statement of Effectiveness
I asked Red Paw technician William Conway how I would know if deleting these foods was making a difference? “Your aches and pains will go away.”

Physical Improvements
Later that week, 4 days to be exact, I realized that:

  • The knee pain I’d been experiencing when climbing stairs was gone
  • The persistent stiffness in my lower back vanished, making for a more relaxed existence
  • The periodic pain in my right shoulder from a decades-old partial shoulder dislocation and rotator cuff strain also decreased noticeably. Once again I could throw a baseball or a more season-appropriate snowball.
  • I felt and feel much more alive, with way more energy
  • The week after the test and change of diet, two women I hardly knew commented favourably upon my appearance, which is always nice

Other Dietary Culprits
I’ve mentioned a few of the foods I can no longer eat and, notable among them, was sugar in all its forms: white, brown, fruit-derived (fructose), and artificial sweeteners and all derivatives.

So, it’s bye-bye to mangoes, strawberries, cantaloupes, honeydews, and bananas which are all infused with fructose. And pineapple, dates and figs.

That ‘Ole Nightshade Blues
No, I’m not referring to melancholic music of black American folk origin (Wikipedia) here but instead to the nightshade family of vegetables: all varieties of peppers, tomatoes, strawberries, mushrooms, potatoes, eggplants, goji berries and tobacco.

Vast numbers of people in North America have some form of intolerance to the nightshades and their prolonged consumption can lead to autoimmune disorders, chronic inflammation and a vast array of diseases:

  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Lupus
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Celiac disease
  • Multiple sclerosis

More information on the Link between Nightshades, Chronic Pain and Inflammation.

Contributing factors to these types of illnesses are genetically passed-on intolerance(s), diet, lifestyle, stress, environmental toxicity and an imbalance of bacteria and fungi in the gut.

Here’s a short video about how an arthritis sufferer reduced his pain by eliminating nightshade vegetables from his diet.

Inflammation Process at Work
The body’s immune system uses unstable particles called “free radicals” to kill off pathogens and other foreign invaders. These particles puncture and damage cells around them, making them ideal for killing bacteria; but, if too numerous, can damage healthy cells.

This can occur when there’s excessive inflammation where free radicals damage blood vessels, joints, cell membranes, nerves and just about anything else in the body. Free radical stress is also, essentially, how we age.

Compounding this process is the fact that “Our digestive tracts loses 17% of its processing ability every 10 years, after the age of 30,” added Red Paw’s Conway. “This means your eligible list of edible foods decreases in kind.” M-m-m, that’s food for thought!

I now know what to eat, and what not to, which has allowed me to manage my health and well-being in a more intelligent manner.

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