Food is supposed to nourish us, not make us afraid to eat it. You would think that here in the UK, in the 21st century, nutrient deficiencies are impossible to contemplate. After all, we are surrounded by an abundance of food – in shops, supermarkets, cafés and restaurants, as well as on TV cookery programmes where we see the most delicious looking meals being created.
How is it then that so many people are suffering with food intolerances? Why is their diet is becoming more and more restricted, until they reach a point where they are eating a very limited diet, thus suffering with nutrient deficiencies, impacting both physical and mental health?
Can you suddenly develop a food intolerance?
Over the years in my natural health clinic, I have met many people who are totally confused, not knowing what to eat because just about everything they do eat causes bloating, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhoea, indigestion and heartburn, and they haven’t a clue why. They just think that all of a sudden they’ve developed food intolerances. That’s not the case though. People don’t just develop food intolerances.
There is a very good reason why these people have gone, in the space of a few years, from eating a varied diet with no digestive or gut problems, to the point of developing malnutrition because of their limited diet. For some people, it takes over their lives, as they become obsessed with trying different foods, different supplements, different therapies and treatments in an attempt to get answers.
If you have food tolerances, it’s not really worth going down the NHS route. It’s certainly worth getting tested for coeliac disease (an allergy to gluten), but if this test comes back negative, you will find that the NHS cannot offer much further help. This is in no way a criticism of the NHS. It’s a simple fact that they are ill equipped both in terms of time, resources and knowledge on how to help the tens of thousands of people with ‘food intolerances’. Food intolerances have become a multi-million pound industry, with tests, supplements, foods, self-help books, recipe books and so on to help sufferers find a solution to their problem.
Why do people develop food intolerances?
Let’s turn the clock back for a moment, and do a bit of digging to consider why someone may have developed a food intolerance in the first place. Rather than focusing purely on the symptoms, let’s look at when the intolerances and symptoms began and work back from there. Let’s go back to a time when the intolerances weren’t present, when the person affected could eat more or less what they wanted – they didn’t get bloated, constipated, or suffer with any other digestive complaints, including all the secondary symptoms of not eating properly and not absorbing nutrients leading to fatigue; hormone-related issues, such as a lack of periods in women or a ‘bad’ menopause; mental health issues like depression and anxiety; skin problems. If we stop and think about it, no-one is born with food intolerances, just as no-one is born with IBS!
When I begin my detective work and look back into my patients’ past, especially their health history, I am looking at what could have affected the status of their gut bacteria, because when it comes to food intolerances, many are caused simply by not having enough ‘friendly’ gut bacteria, coupled with eating dead, devitalised processed foods. Gut bacteria help to digest our food, they help the absorption and assimilation of nutrients from our food, manufacture important hormones and vitamins, as well as ensure we have a strong immune system.
When you take the time to look back into dietary and lifestyle habits as well as medical history, you may just realise that all those antibiotics you were prescribed as a teenager for your acne, or that food poisoning you had in Thailand, or that diet of pizza and coke at university could be the reason you now have multiple food intolerances. Food intolerances, just like IBS don’t appear out of nowhere. You don’t pick up a food intolerance like a virus or a bug, and you can’t catch it off other people. It’s something that has developed over time, decades usually, with the intolerance gradually becoming more and apparent, leading to the elimination of one food type after the next, until the diet is reduced to a few unappetising foods, that certainly are in no way nourishing the person affected.
The best type of diet is a well-balanced one
My grandmother used to say ‘I live to eat’ and I would reply ‘I eat to live’. Whether you love eating, or just eat because you know it’s important to survive, we have to remember that food is the substance that provides us with vital vitamins, minerals, and amino acids; it helps to build strong muscles, bones, nerves and the connective tissue that binds everything together. If we don’t eat a well-balanced diet, we will simply get ill and eventually die early. What a waste! A restricted diet affects our gut bacteria. The bacteria in our gut love a healthy, varied diet, and this, in turn, ensures we have a healthy immune system and a healthy nervous system. If you have multiple food intolerances, I dare say that you have other health issues too, including fatigue and depression.
So no more faffing around with your food, please! If you have developed food intolerances, get some help from a naturopath, colon hydrotherapist, nutritional therapist or medical herbalist, before it’s too late. Food is supposed to be enjoyed, not feared.
My other piece of advice would be to give your tummy some much needed love. Restore your levels of ‘friendly’ gut bacteria in a quick and easy way by taking a Live Bacteria probiotic capsule twice daily with meals.