A good friend of Nutrolution's who is also a chef and owner of a locally grown-style grocery store recently posed a question. He asked "why are food allergies such a thing that we didn't have when we were kids or our folks when they were little?". As tempted as I was to give him a quick off the cusp answer, I realized that this question warrants a detailed answer. In short, there are many reasons why food allergies have become so prevalent. But the lentgthier answer is that it's complicated, and a result of numerous factors.
Here are some of the most important ones to understand:
1- Over-consumption of the same foods- this is probably the most obvious reason for the increase in food intolerances. When the gastrointestinal tract is over-exposed to ingredients every day for months or years on end, it has a tendency to start to develop an intolerance to that specific food- even something like broccoli. While broccoli intolerances rarely come up, soy, wheat and corn intolerances are very common. Often, even people who don't think they are consuming these regularly are. It's because 1 or more of these 3 ingredients are found in almost every 'non-whole-food' product. A few examples you may not realize these are found in are most sauces and marinades, salad dressings, and practically every packaged or frozen food on the grocery store shelf. (Not Norman Brother's!)
2- Underconsumption - of probiotic rich and anti-inflammatory foods. These are the foods that protect our intestinal tracts from the occasional ingestion of a foreign GMO or artificially flavored food. Probiotics are good bacteria that we need lining our digestive tract. They help ensure that nothing bad gets absorbed into the bloodstream, which would then cause an "allergic" reaction. Most people are deficient in good bacteria. And, I cannot stress how many people believe they are taking good probiotics, who are simply taking ineffective, OTC probiotics, or well marketed yogurt or kombucha and simply not getting the right strains. The properly sourced strains of probiotics will adhere to the lining of the gut, and start to grow on their own. If your probioitics make you poop quickly after, you're probably taking something that just passes right through your system. This is the probiotic I take and recommend.
3- Chlorinated water & pesticides - Chlorine was added to water to kill bacteria and it does. Pesticides do the same. These chemicals are the best and cheapest way our society was able to grow, and not cause massive outbreaks of disease, so it's not to be knocked. However, the long term effects of these additives are simply still in the stages of being discovered. We do know however that they kill our good bacteria and therefore leave us vulnerable to allergic reactions to other foods.
4- Antibiotics in meats and cheeses - same thing here as number three. This just goes to show that whether you're eating vegan or going ketogenic, or anywhere in between, you almost can't avoid the fact that your food contains ingredients that kill your protective bacteria.
5- Immune stress - Stress can come from so many places, but all of it affects the immune system. If you are living a high stress lifestyle, you are going to be more vulnerable to food sensitivities. On a clinical note, I have had patients who have had ongoing severe food intolerances, who've taken a vacation, and not reacted to anything. There are so many personal reports of this from patients that it really makes you wonder whether stress is at the core. However many of these patients who reported no adverse affects to their typically allergic foods were travelling in Europe, where it is rare (or was at that time) to find foods that are Genetically modified.
6- GMOs - Otherwise known as genetically modified organisms, most of our crops in the United States are now genetically modified. It was done in order to create crops that are more resilient and less susceptable to insects, and produce bigger yields. As a scientific community, we still do not know the long terms effects of these Genetically modified foods. However, theoretically, they are causing inflammation and therefor presenting issues around food allergies.
The main takeaways here are to reduce stress, try to steer toward organic, or better yet, grow a garden, avoid processed foods as much as humanly possible, and definitely consider taking some supportive supplements to protect yourself. As I mentioned above, my favorite probiotic is HLC Mindlinx. It's been a lifesaver for so many people I know. And, the other starting place would be to take some Omega-3s. But make sure they are sourced from fish that are not toxic with mercury or other heavy metals. Finest Pure Fish Oils are the safest, as well as the ones I take, High DHA FIsh Oils by Nordic Naturals.
I realize it's complicated and no one wants to fuss over their food, but there comes a point when we can't afford to feel lousy any more. If that's you, and you need some assistance, we are definitely able to help.
Until next time, best of health to you and your family!