More and more we are hearing about food allergies and food sensitivities. Because they are such common conditions, it is important to understand the difference between the two and what the health issues are which surround them.
The difference between food sensitivities and food allergies
Though on the surface food sensitivities and food allergies may seem like the same thing (they can even cause some of the same symptoms), they are, in fact, two different conditions.
The least common of the two is a food allergy. A food allergy will bring about a response from the immune system that can impact several different parts of your body. Food allergies can be life-threatening. Food sensitivity or food intolerance symptoms are less serious but are more common, being typically confined to the digestive tract.
The gut connection
When you have a food allergy, your body essentially treats the food as something that is threatening to your body and therefore mounts an attack against it. The reason for the attack is that particles of that food and other molecules have traveled from the intestines into the bloodstream; but they are not supposed to be there.
How did they get there? Through what is known as a leaky gut. A normal, healthy intestine has walls that are tight, allowing only small molecules such as vitamins, simple sugars and amino acids to pass through it. But when the gut becomes overly permeable, larger molecules, toxins, bacteria and bits of undigested waste pass through into the blood stream. These molecules are not supposed to be in the bloodstream at all.
The result is that this triggers a response in the body, and the large molecules are treated as foreigners, triggering an immune reaction leading to digestion problems, autoimmune diseases and additional food allergies. If your body begins producing antibodies to certain foods and food groups, then those foods will be treated as pathogenic by your body.
What are the causes and symptoms of leaky gut?
There are many causes of leaky gut. These include:
- Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen and aspirin
- Alcohol and caffeine
- Antacid medications
- Food additives
- Allergies to food
- Infections within the bowel itself
- Diets high in refined flours, sugars and other processed foods
If you have leaky gut, you may experience a range of symptoms such as fatigue, joint and muscle pain, pain and bloating in the abdomen, skin rashes, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and depression.
The good news is that if you think you have leaky gut, there are several action steps you can take to begin healing. The key is to remove anything that may be contributing to your condition, while at the same time feed your body what it needs to begin repairing the damage.
Try the following suggestions to start on the road to healing and health:
- Eliminate alcohol and caffeine from your diet.
- Stop using all anti-inflammatory drugs.
- Chew your food thoroughly and take a digestive enzyme to aid digestion.
- Take probiotics to increase the number of friendly microbes in your intestines.
- Eat at least nine servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
- Stop eating refined, white flour, sugar and processed foods.
- Drink plenty of filtered water.