Food Sensitivities = Autoimmune Disease

shutterstock_103170032There is a big grey area surrounding food sensitivities. Testing for them can be nearly impossible, it usually relies on an experimental elimination diet, which is hardly scientific and not always accurate. Often the trial and error approach can lead to more confusion and frustration. Unfortunately, the way our food in the modern world has been produced and farmed, as a result, we are more sensitive as a culture. I should know, I had sensitivities to wheat, corn, soy, and dairy. I have to confess, that was pretty much my entire diet growing up. And if you were like me, a kid of the 80s, that was pretty much everyone’s diet. We ate bright orange “cheese” curls, which consisted primarily of gmo-corn; American cheese, which is filled with preservatives and chemicals; mac n’ cheese from a box, which has a little of everything – gmo-wheat, gmo-soy, and of course, preservatives and chemicals.There was very little real food being consumed, and (oddly enough) we all considered oursleves relatively healthy. My mom always used “whole wheat” bread when making our pbj’s, she insisted on skim milk with our Special K, and Diet Coke with our low-fat Snackwells. Looking back, there was zero nutrition in any of this, even the “essential vitamins and minerals” touted in most sugary kids cereal were derived from a chemical plant in the Midwest somewhere. Sure, we ate apples or a banana here and there, and we had overcooked veggies from time to time, but in all reality, not a lot of health promoting nourishment going on in those days. With the invention and mass production of the microwave came an abundance of “convenience foods” that our bodies (and mother nature) had never seen before. These new chemically infused foods that were shelf stable and easy to prepare certainly changed meal time in most Amercians homes. It might have been family-style tv dinners, or maybe even the” good-for-us” intention of nuking some frozen veggies in a plastic container. That must qualify for healthy, right? Most of us that grew up in those years had a lot of freedom of choice, but as a kid, we weren’t all that interested in eating something green. We certainly didn’t understand the importance food plays in our health.

Luckily, we do now! and for me, it was time for me to get schooled. I had to go back and learn how to feed myself. Only this time, I had acquired food sensitivities from all that junk (and very little variety), so not only did I have to learn what foods to eat, but which ones to avoid. This can be an exhausting process, and I spent nearly 20 years of my life trying to eliminate this food, and then that food, with no real results. Shucks, I wasn’t having anaphylactic shock, so what harm can a little bread do really?

The problem with these ongoing food sensitivities, is that they are constantly taxing our system. Every time we ingest even one of them, our bodies react to them as an “invader”. The results may come in many forms, maybe a headache, or congestion, acid reflux or even diarrhea. All of these things are an obvious nuisance, but people tend to put up with them in order to prevent the much bigger discomfort of changing their diet. The problem with this, is that as the body’s immune system grows tired of fending off these “intruders”, it gets weakened and before long it doesn’t know good from bad and often begins to see everything as an intruder. It no longer knows the difference between an allergen or healthy tissue. This is when the immune system gets all wiggidy-whack, often resulting in auto-immune disorders or  other disease caused by a compromised immune system. Once our immunity falters, it opens up the opportunity for all sorts of diseases to creep in. Our immune system is critical to our survival and when isn’t functioning properly, our bodies are in real trouble. So, we must go to the source of our immune system – the gut.

The digestive system gets no real props in life. The heart and the brain get all the good press. “heart healthy” and “helps prevent Alzheimer’s”, are the things we hear the most about. Sure, fiber is mentioned, but when was the last time you heard “take 3 cleansing poops a day” on an add slogan for fiber. Well, the truth is, they should consider it. Our nation is suffering from more bowel related issues than ever before. We are either completely constipated, I know, I spent most of my life backed up, or we are having sporadic diarrhea. Most of you probably have a bit of both, but not a lot in the middle. Our poop is our window into our health. We all instictlively know this since we take a peek every time we flush. It is important to know what our bodies are expelling, it can tell us a lot. In optimal health, we should poop at least twice a day. Heck, I was lucky to poop twice a week! Our digestive systems are the key to our health, all of the nutrients we need to fuel our lives are absorbed there, the fats and minerals are all extracted there, sorted and sent off to perform their functions elsewhere in the body. Our livers collect all the toxic junk (remember all those cheetos) and filter it out of the body. But if these systems aren’t working properly, crap starts to accumulate (literally). If we are eating foods we are sensitive to, the stomach signals the immune system, which signals the digestive system to either dump it out (diarrhea) or halt the process to prevent these intruders from entering our bloodstream (constipation), which then backs up toxins and sludge into the liver which leaves our bodies overly toxic and acidic, often resulting in headaches, joint pain, acne, you name it.

When our immune systems are taxed and our bodies cant eliminate toxins, we are festering in our own septic soup. Gross, I know, but there is no way for a human body to thrive when there is an overload of toxicity with in it. Chronic disease is a result of an overly toxic body. Once that sludge is out, the body can begin to repair itself. It wants to repair itself, but with the never ending cycle of wrong food + negative internal reaction + immune system overload = illness. Once we change the food part, and give the internal system a much needed rest from defending us from… well, everything. We allow the immune system calm down a little, ease the burden on the liver and begin to clean house. Our bodies will do the rest. You might be thinking “it can’t be as simple as food”, with all the specialists and the medications and the treatments that I’ve tried, that didn’t show lasting results, I’m here to say, it IS as simple as food.