Has your world been challenged by the need to eliminate certain foods from your diet? Go out to eat with anyone today and you’ll hear things like; “I can’t have that”, or maybe that’s you. I’ve been there, and I get your frustration. I remember the day when my provider told me to go gluten, wheat, dairy, and sugar free. I remember sitting at the book store looking at cookbooks trying to figure out how to cook. I love food and I love to cook, but this change challenged me. I had no idea where to begin or what to do. Fast forward 6 years and I figured it out. I can now enjoy all these things again because I treated my digestive health and made some lifestyle changes.
Unfortunately, we’ve succumb to the new age of The Elimination Diet. While it’s important to eliminate foods that are creating distress in the body, it seems as though we’ve missed the boat on treating the underlying root cause of the issue at hand. As I begin to work with client’s through my Digestive Health Coaching service, I hear more about foods being eliminated, but less about the understanding of why or how to treat the cause. Probiotics and digestive enzymes are great alternatives, but still do not treat the underlying root cause. I also hear about the different diet’s out there such as Paleo, Mediterranean or Ketogenic. While these can prove good results, what is your reasoning for going on the diet? I’ve seen some of these diets work for a short period of time, but some can aggravate the digestive system when done during certain times of the year. Take for instance the Paleo diet. If someone has what Ayurveda calls a Pitta body type, this means they have more heat in the body. A Paleo diet in the summer can be aggravating to their system as animal proteins or tomatoes are harder for a Pitta body type to digest in the hot summer months. Learning your specific body type and seasonal eating is critical to proper digestion and part of the Ayurvedic lifestyle.
According to the New York Times, food allergies have doubled in the last ten years. It begs the question; “What is going wrong”? Our bodies are becoming more delicate or perhaps our immune system is becoming a little bit more aggressive. Take for instance a wheat intolerance vs wheat allergy. An intolerance is an inability to digest wheat which will cause signs and symptoms of indigestion such as gas, bloating and/or constipation, nausea, or loose stools. There could be smelly gas or burping, some cramping in the abdomen. A wheat allergy is a specific type of intolerance. It means that the immune system gets activated and that the body cannot tolerate any contact with wheat. Basically, your immune system thinks it’s under attack and mounts a counter attack. This type of intolerance is caused by digestive enzymes that have lost their oomph to process wheat. The war creates a lot of inflammation and actually damages the intestines. In particular the small intestines. The small intestines are lined with little villi that are finger-like hairs. These hairs increase the surface area of the intestines so that you can easily absorb nutrients, vitamins, sugar, fat and proteins. Without these villi, or when they become damaged, the food can’t get into the blood, which creates malabsorption, which is known as Leaky gut syndrome. Leaky gut syndrome is when the food we eat easily passes through the gut, affecting the guts ability to effectively select the right nutrients from the small intestine. Food particles now enter into the bloodstream where the immune system then becomes radically overexposed to anything we eat. In an allergic situation a single teaspoon or bite of the food can cause a reaction such as eczema, hives or angioedema where your lips, face, and/or hands swell. You could also have hay fever, seasonal allergies, abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, rheumatoid arthritis or migraines. Or even a more severe symptom of feeling like your throat is closing. Any time we eliminate food from our diet we need to ask; “is it a sign of a weakened digestive system”? If you do have a food sensitivity or allergy, you definitely want to first remove the allergen from your diet. Secondly, you want to calm the immune system by detoxing the intestines. Eating cooling, astringent, anti-inflammatory herbs like aloe vera, pomegranate juice, cranberry juice, and cooked cabbage. Marshmallow root is a demulcent that can coat your intestines and sooth them. Fennel, cardamom, and licorice root are good digestives when there is inflammation in the digestive tract. Eating leafy greens such as cooked kale, or foods high in beta carotene like blueberries, carrots, and beets will help heal the liver. Toxicity that builds up in the body affects the liver. Entering into a gentle cleanse helps to rebuild digestion. Lifestyle changes are important too, such as, getting to bed by 10 p.m. and reducing as much stress in your life as possible.
The type of allergy or sensitivity is very specific to our unique make up, as is how we bring balance back into the body so we can enjoy the foods we love to eat. All of this takes time. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 406/600-7267 for your initial Digestive Wellness Coaching session. These sessions can be held remotely via video conference calls as well.
Those with celiac disease should avoid gluten, and those with severe and/or life-threatening allergies to dairy should avoid dairy, etc. If you have one of these conditions, please follow the instructions of your primary care physician.