Complaints of digestive upsets, brain fog, headaches, relentless food cravings and inflammation in our body appear to be at epidemic levels these days. People go years visiting doctors with no answers, but the symptoms may be part of the newfound awareness of the wide ranging and seemingly unrelated health problems caused by food sensitivities and intolerances.

Food sensitivities are very different than allergies. Allergies seem to be abundant in America’s children now more than ever. We know that peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, once standard lunchbox fair are no longer allowed in schools. The symptoms of food allergies in adults and children often include hives, rashes, itching and can range from being annoying to life-threatening. People with allergies could actually go into anaphylactic shock. For extremely sensitive people, the tiniest fragment of a peanut or shellfish exposure could cause a sudden strong allergic reaction that results in anaphylaxis, which makes breathing passages swell shut. If untreated, it could even prove fatal which is why people with severe allergies carry the antidote epinephrine with them.

Food allergies are diagnosed by blood and or skin testing under the supervision of a medical professional. Effective treatment must be customized to the individual and typically entails avoiding the allergic triggers. But what is more common today are food sensitivities or intolerances. These terms are often used interchangeably to describe foods that are not digested well and can challenge the immune system. I’ve seen a tremendous rise in food sensitivities in my practice over the last eight years.

Our bodies go through stages in life. At one time you might have been perfectly ok drinking cow’s milk and then all of a sudden you get digestive upset or headaches after eating cheese or ice cream. There are a variety of reasons why this happens but one of the most prevalent reasons is what is called leaky gut syndrome.

Leaky gut is characterized by what is known as intestinal permeability, in other words small, microscopic pinholes in a healthy small intestine allow undigested nutrients to pass through the intestinal walls into your blood stream, which triggers mild immune responses, inflammation and the potential onset of disease. Theories of what causes leaky gut are diverse and sometimes contradictory but at the top of the list is food sensitivities.

Leaky gut is often caused by an imbalance in good and bad intestinal bacteria. We have more bacteria in our body than we do cells. And we want the balance of good to bad to lean toward the good! An imbalance can be brought on by the overuse of antibiotics, antibiotic residues in meats and dairy products or a diet high in sugar and processed foods. Say hello to the American diet!

Another surprising fact is that genetically modified foods today (GMOs) contain toxins that have been shown in recent studies to destroy human digestion.

And the other big problem is that there’s a possibility that gluten causes leaky gut syndrome. Whether you’re sensitive to it or not, gluten increases the production of zonulin, which can result in damage to the intestinal walls and cause the cells on the outside of the intestines to set off an immune response to anything that passes through. In this condition, what we are eating – cheese, milk, eggs, gluten etc. – is leaking through the gut lining, triggering an immune response and potentially creating multiple food sensitivities.

If you have chronic digestive issues, inflammation, runny nose, headaches, anxiety, depression or insomnia, I highly encourage you to look into getting yourself tested for food sensitivities.

I do a simple finger prick test that looks at 100 different foods to see if your body is reacting to the protein enzymes in that food. (Remember, our bodies change over time.) This is a much more scientific and easier way that just trying to eliminate the foods that you think might be causing a reaction in your body. Most clients have a clue that it could be dairy or gluten but then bananas are revealed during testing and they did not realize that what they put in their smoothie each morning was part of the problem.

I would love to chat with you about your health concerns and the possibility of taking this simple test with me, so I can review your results and design a protocol that gets you back on the road to optimal health.

For more information about the test, go here.