Many people today are eating special diets because they have allergies, food sensitivities or digestive problems. These health issues are often chronic, debilitating or even, in the case of food allergies, life threatening. I’d like to share with you a few digestive helps that can be a way to begin the healing of these disorders. First let’s do some defining so we can understand the difference between allergies and sensitivities. Food allergies and sensitivities can have some similar symptoms but have different causes.
A food allergy is an immune system reaction to the food proteins of normally harmless foods. The immune system identifies these foods as harmful. If you have a true food allergy you need to avoid that food.
Possible symptoms: rash, nausea, vomiting, cramping, diarrhea, swelling of tongue, lips, face, or throat. hives, wheezing, respiratory difficulty, anaphylaxis.
Most common allergens: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat, and soy.
These reactions are not caused by the same immune system reaction as allergies. Sensitivities can have several causes such as, enzyme deficiencies, toxins, digestive disorders, stress, parasites, or chemical sensitivities.
Possible symptoms: abdominal pain, cramping, gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, asthma attacks.
Link Between Digestion and Allergies
Often times food allergies, and sensitivities are directly related to digestion. When the intestines are working properly they are colonized with billions of microbes that help the digestive system function properly, fight off bad microbes, break down food, regulate hormones and aid digestion.
Humans actually have a nervous system in our intestines called the enteric nervous system. There are actually more neurotransmitters in your intestines than in your brain. This nervous system is called the enteric nervous system.
The intestines also have a lining of lymphoid tissue that contain immune cells. These cells in your intestines work with the nervous system in the brain along with other body systems to regulate bowels and respond to allergens or toxins.
Together these cells and systems regulate digestion and hormones, break down food, fight allergens bad microbes and parasites, eliminate toxins, and much more. The interaction in theses systems are complex and scientists are still studying to understand how they fully affect digestion and allergies.
As these systems get out of balance and as digestion worsens more allergies and food sensitivities can occur and then digestion can worsen creating a vicious cycle. Often times food is incompletely digested and then these particles pass through to the blood causing what is known as leaky gut syndrome. The existence of undigested food in your blood stream is seen as a foreign invader and is said to be related to allergies and sensitivities. Other things that can contribute to improper food digestion are low or high stomach acid, and low digestive enzymes.
Steps To Improve Digestion and Lower Allergies
- The first step in improving digestion is to transition to a biblical whole foods diet. My free pdf: Biblical Whole Foods Diet can give you an idea of what this diet involves. This diet will include biblically clean foods that have not been processed, and minimal preservatives or food additives. Preservatives and additives can cause allergic reactions or sensitivities and can also increase your toxic load. One step to identify if this food is a whole food is to ask yourself if this food can be made at home.
- Another step is to eliminate those foods that you know are an allergen or that you are sensitive to. This way the diet can be tailored to the individual instead of one size heals all. Sometimes if it is not obvious or allergies continue an elimination diet may be needed to determine which foods need to be eliminated.
- It is very important to treat any bacterial, fungal, or parasitic infections in the digestive system. There are many herbs that can be used for this instead of harsh medications.
- Restoring good bacteria through foods rich in probiotics such as yogurt and fermented foods as well as taking a good probiotic is an important step on the way to healing.
- Adding digestive enzymes daily and as needed can assist the body in digesting foods and thus lower allergies. I have seen some enzyme supplements that are created for allergies lessen food reactions within 20 minutes.
- Healthy fats can help to lower inflammation in the digestive system and throughout the body. This can be obtained through your diet via clean fish, healthy oils, nuts, seeds, and avocados. Omega 3 supplements can also be of benefit.
- Fiber is important to keep your digestion functioning properly. This can also be obtained from a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, leafy greens, as well as healthy fiber supplements.
- Simple steps like chewing your food well, not overeating, and making sure you are drinking adequate water can be some of the easiest to initiate.
- Daily exercise can assist the digestive system and stimulate the immune system.
- Slowing down,praying, blessings your food, enjoying your meals, and spending time breaking bread in fellowship can add joy and eliminate stress.
- Bitter greens, foods, or drinks eaten prior to your meal can help stimulate gastric secretions and assist digestion.
- Depending on your individual digestive needs herbs can be a beneficial addition to initiate healing. Digestive herbs can be, carminative, demulcent, alterative, laxative, stimulating, anti-inflammatory, hepatic, cholagogue, heating, or cooling.
Digestion can significantly affect food allergies and sensitivities and is a very important area of health. It is important to work towards encouraging your body to heal and restore itself. I can assist you in tailoring a diet, herb and supplement regimen specific to your needs. Contact me today.