Food Intolerances: Why avoiding gluten or dairy is not enough

Food intolerances are a growing phenomenon these days. Top on the list are gluten, dairy (especially milk protein – A1 casein in cow milk – and milk sugar – lactose), egg whites, soy, corn and peanuts, but in the IgG antibody tests I often ask clients to run, I also see many reactions to foods less commonly associated with food intolerances, such as almonds (and nuts and seeds in general), green beans, kiwi…

No matter what the particular food intolerance, there is one observation I have made repeatedly: While people can be really disciplined avoiding the specific foods they have been “diagnosed” to be reactive to (i.e. gluten or dairy), they might still heavily consume pro-inflammatory foods, such as (refined) sugar, refined (gluten-free) flour or pasta, industrial vegetable oils and processed foods in general (chips; chocolate; gluten-free cookies; gluten-free bread full of soy, corn, canola oil and additives; vegan desserts; fruit juice…). This shows me that they really have not understood the “big picture” of food intolerances, and this is why I want to explain it very clearly again in this article.

Having food intolerances is an indication that the gut is permeable (“leaky”) to some extent. Having a “leaky gut” means that big particles of (undigested) food, yeasts, parasites, toxins or other (potentially pathogenic) elements are allowed to pass through the gut wall into the blood stream. This causes an inflammatory “stress” reaction which – if continuously triggered – wrecks down the immune system over time and increases the risk of developing allergies, auto-immune or degenerative diseases of any kind.

While it is indeed crucial to avoid all foods that you have been diagnosed to be sensitive to (because continuing to eat them would further damage the gut lining, cause an inflammatory immune reaction and release stress hormones in your body), you also have to avoid or at least limit anything else with a pro-inflammatory effect on the gut (and the body in general). This includes chronic stress in all its forms (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual), antibiotics and other drugs (incl. the pill), environmental toxins, heavy metals… but also negative thought patterns, constant self-loathing and lack of purpose or meaning in Life. When it comes to food, pro-inflammatory means first and foremost the so-called powerful substances (alcohol, caffeine and sugar), refined flour (esp. wheat), refined vegetable oils, (ultra-) pasteurized dairy and in general industrially processed and non-organic foods, but also an excess of “natural” sugars and carbs, and foods rich in omega 6 (soy, corn, peanuts, most liquid vegetable oils…).

It does not make any sense to avoid gluten or dairy or whatever, if then you go and eat a bar of chocolate or a dessert every day, even if that chocolate or dessert is vegan, gluten and lactose-free.

If you REALLY want to heal and seal your gut and thus increase your chances of actually being able to again eat gluten or dairy (or whatever you are sensitive to), you have to embrace a comprehensive gut healing strategy, not just selectively avoid certain foods. You have to systemically reduce inflammation, by removing (as much as possible) ANYTHING that triggers stress and inflammation, and by introducing anti-inflammatory foods (i.e. omega 3, bone broth, fermented foods) and enhancing relaxation by slowing down, increasing consciousness, deep breathing and trusting in Life (to just name a few). In other words, you have to look at the big picture, to not walk into opposing directions and cancel out your effort.

If you have any food intolerance (gluten, lactose…), consider yourself automatically intolerant to sugar, refined and processed foods as well.

I would even go as far as suggesting that we ALL are intolerant to those edible food products. What the human body needs is FOOD. REAL food. Read more in my article on Common Sense Nutrition.

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