William Cole, DC, a functional medicine practitioner, is an expert at identifying the underlying factors of chronic conditions. Join Dr. Cole for an exclusive webinar on May 24, 2016, and learn how to uncover your food intolerances, heal your gut, and feel your best again. Check out his mindbodygreen course, The Elimination Diet: A 60-Day Protocol to Uncover Food Intolerances, Heal the Gut, and Feel Amazing.
When it comes to chronic health problems, I believe that the foods we eat are some of the biggest pieces of the puzzle. After all, food is medicine: Our bodies are alive because of brilliant biochemistry, and the foods we eat will either help feed health or disease.
Most people know to avoid sugar and junk food, but beyond that, I believe we're all different. I have seen the healthiest foods flare up one person, contributing to inflammation in their muscles and joints, digestive problems, and brain fog, among other symptoms. But that same food can also be a great food medicine for the next person.
What's going on? Well, it can be one of three things:
Food allergies: These involve the immune system and are the more immediate and more severe response. Symptoms of an allergic reaction can include rashes, itching, hives, and swelling, or even anaphylaxis, which involves serious difficulty breathing and can be fatal.
Food intolerances: Unlike allergies, these do not directly involve the immune system. Instead, intolerances occur when your body is unable to digest certain foods (such as dairy) or when your digestive system becomes irritated by them. These are usually the result of enzyme deficiencies.
Food sensitivities: These are similar to intolerances, but it's often less clear why someone reacts poorly to a certain food. Food sensitivities also may result in a more delayed reaction, and you might be able to digest a small amount of the food without issues.
The symptoms for intolerances and sensitivities might include: