Continuing Food Matters list of 9 Symptoms you Shouldn’t Ignore
You’re eating something that doesn’t agree with you…
One likely signal: Eczema
Background: First a little background about food intolerances. When the body doesn’t tolerate a food well, ingesting that food creates a chronic, low-level irritation or inflammation in the gut. Over time, with regular exposure, the irritation worsens and creates fissures in the spaces between the cells. (Picture the walls of the gut, once tightly knitted together, looking more like an old afghan.)
These holes allow bacteria and their toxins, as well as incompletely digested proteins and fats, to “leak” out of the gut and into the bloodstream. Called leaky gut syndrome (or increased intestinal permeability), this condition sets the stage for myriad health problems, including rashes and skin problems, like eczema.
The skin is the body’s largest elimination organ, notes Lipski, so it’s not surprising that it comes under assault when toxins careen through the bloodstream. “A skin rash or eczema is a sign that the body is trying to slough out these toxins,” she says. “It’s trying to eliminate the problem the best way it knows how.
Other signals: Gas, bloating, fatigue, sinus congestion, foggy thinking
How to respond: An elimination diet is the best way to pinpoint the offending food. “Start with one or two foods you suspect,” says Swift, who prefers to call this the “illumination diet” because its focus is on “illuminating your health.”
Don’t know where to start? Foods that are most likely to wreak havoc on the gut include wheat and gluten-containing products, dairy products, sugar, soy, eggs, corn and yeast. If you’re uber-motivated, take Haas’s advice and go off what he calls “the big five” for a week: wheat, dairy, sugar, caffeine and alcohol. “It’s not easy to do”, he admits, “but you’re guaranteed to learn a lot about your body’s signals.” You might also consider keeping a food journal. Spend a week or two writing down what you eat and how your body feels in the minutes, hours and days afterward (e.g., an hour after you eat dairy, you feel bloated). “It’s about pattern and symptom recognition and connecting the dots,” says Swift, which in turn helps you decide which foods to eliminate first.
It can be quite difficult to identify if a specific food is affecting health, so request a consultation if you would like support and help in how to go about identifying whether a food shouldbe avoided or not. Also, once a culprit food has been removed, and once gut ecology has been balanced, there are certain nutrients which may be helpful in healing the gut wall. This is not a quick process, but with the support of a nutritional therapist the integrity of the gut wall may be encouraged.