Is your food making you sick - and tired?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

So all I wanted to do was find out if it was true that food sensitivities can cause major problems with your health. As is the case with most of these seemingly simple things I like to look up, there was just TOO MUCH SCIENCE involved in the whole subject and it made my head hurt. Why do I keep doing this to myself?

The overall answer appears to be yes, hidden food sensitivities can contribute to a large number of health problems. Depending on who you ask.

Would you be surprised to learn that traditional medicine thinks testing for food sensitivities (which is different from a true allergy) is all bull hockey, while naturopaths and holistic practitioners believe in it whole-heartedly? Doesn’t surprise me any. If patients can eliminate symptoms by diet alone, what would that do to the drug industry? What? No prescriptions to write? We can’t have that, can we?

So back to this food sensitivity thing. I was originally reading an article with the catchy title, “Your Hidden Food Allergies Are Making You Fat” – because, you know, no one would read the article if it didn’t stress the weight aspect of the subject. Anyhoo, I read the article, which I found interesting and wanted to learn more about food sensitivity and how it relates to other health issues.

Statistics show that only about 5% of adults have true food allergies, while 80% have food sensitivities. Pretty high number. The claim is that these hidden food sensitivities, which cannot be detected in standard allergy testing, can cause some of these symptoms:

celiac disease/gluten intolerance
weight gain or inability to lose weight
extreme fatigue
anxiety and panic attacks
chronic pain
irritable bowel
ear problems
sinus problems
gallbladder attacks
bone and joint pain
gastrointestinal distress

And that’s just a partial list.

So what causes food sensitivities? I read an interesting article about how our immune systems have changed very, very little from our hunting and gathering days. The days when we would basically eat what was available and in season. We couldn’t store grains, so we didn’t eat them every day. Now all kinds of foods are readily available year round and we eat tons of the same things every single day. But our bodies weren’t designed to eat like that and, eventually, our immune system becomes sensitive to those foods. Or something like that. I’m no anthropologist – but you get the drift.

I have personally noticed how various foods affect me adversely. I cannot eat bread. I bloat severely and gain weight immediately if I do. Is it the wheat? Is it the gluten? I don’t know, but I do know there is something in there that my body just doesn’t like. If I stay away from it, not only do I feel better, but my weight drops. I have discovered that tree nuts will trigger a migraine. Not allergic, but definitely sensitive. I have been told that I am allergic to casein, a milk protein. No major allergic reaction, but I sure don’t feel good when I eat anything that contains it. Sugar makes me flat out sick. Always has. And there are other odd symptoms I have that I am convinced are food-related – but I just haven’t been able to track down which foods they are. Yet.

Which brings me to the testing. ALCAT testing (the testing mentioned in the big fat allergy article, above) is designed to pinpoint your specific food and chemical sensitivities with a simple blood test. Then, armed with this knowledge, the patient eliminates all of the foods to which they have been found to be sensitive. Health restored, weight lost.

Sounds easy enough. The problem is, number one, the test is uber ridiculously expensive – anywhere from $400 to $1100, depending on the number of items you are being tested for. Out of range for the average suffering Joe. Number two, even if you could get your doctor to do the test for you, your insurance probably won’t cover it. Number three, there are equally divided reviews on the test’s effectiveness. And, again, I believe that division is between the traditional and alternative camps.

I would LOVE to be tested for food and chemical sensitivities. I would love to know RIGHT NOW which foods are causing problems with my health. And, okay, I’ll admit it – my weight. Unfortunately, my recent QVC spree has left me a little light in the wallet. It’s my understanding there are other, less expensive, tests that can be done – but they’re still not $1.98. So, until I win the lottery, or my insurance company gets with the program, I’m going to have to stick with my hit or miss method of sensitivity detection. And be miserable.

Do you feel there are some foods that you might be sensitive to? Do you have symptoms that your doctor doesn’t seem to be able to fix? If money were no object, would you shell out the cash to be tested? Even if you might find out that you’re sensitive to, say, HOPS, and your beer drinking days would be over? Or am I the only one who truly believes what we’re eating could be making us sick?


Lanie said...

I agree wholeheartedly with everything you said. Our diets today are definitely not what they should be.

"Would you be surprised to learned that traditional medicine thinks testing for food sensitivities (which is different from a true allergy) is all bull hockey, while naturopaths and holistic practitioners believe in it whole-heartedly? Doesn’t surprise me any. If patients can eliminate symptoms by diet alone, what would that do to the drug industry? What? No prescriptions to write? We can’t have that, can we?"

AMEN!!! Also the reason I don't believe in immunizations... but that is a whole other conversation!

Anonymous said...

I would be tested for sure! I definitely feel that I am sensitive to some foods...I can tell by the way I feel after I eat them. For instance, sweets. I always feel terrible after eating something high in sugar.

and, you know what they say: you are what you eat.

Patty said...

I definitely believe in food sensitivities. Sugar is a huge trigger for my husband and both step-children. Within an hour’s time, they will be stuffy. Every time. I get a headache, so I stay away from sugar too, and have for years. And I don’t classify it as food, but the artificial sweeteners and MSG really throw me for a loop. It would be interesting to know the results of the test, but I am so skeptical, I’m not sure I would even trust it! No kidding, I would trust you to help me figure it out more than I would a test or a doctor. With your research skills and detective work, I think you can figure out what is bothering you without that stoopid test. No?

Nana said...

I know what you are saying. My Dr. totally believes in food sensitivity.

What I have discovered is if I eat chocolate in large quantities I gain weight. What is up w/ that?

I have had to stop my QVC addiction for awhile.

I am going to go see a Dr. next week and have a bunch of tests done. He is a natur ( whatever you said) anyway I will let you know how it turns out. I need to go to bed now because I can't remember how to spell anything.

Tammy Howard said...

I really believe there's something to this. I just don't know how to figure things out. I guess you just keep a detailed diary? 'Cause, yeah, those tests are out of the question...

Housewife Savant said...

Tuck a piece of white bread in your bra. Itchy boob? Sensitive.

Fill [bra] cup with white sugar. Itchy? Sensitive.

Place macaroni (sans sauce) in bra. Itchy boob means you got a problem w/noodles.

My fee? Nada.

I just looooove the Jellay.

Mrs. Jelly Belly said...

Savant, remind me not to swing by your house to borrow a cup of ANYTHING!

Theresa said...

I believe it is true! When I was a kid, we ate everything homegrown. Not much came from the store, I think that is best for us but who has the time or the energy to do what my Parents did? Oh well, back for another cup of coffee. And if I found out coffee was something I was sensitive to... TOO BAD! Ta Ta for now and thanks for all your research!

Sheryl said...

I am coming to believe that my body is handling food differently now then when I was younger.

It's a very slow process but I am trying to figure out what makes me feel like crap, such as sugar etc and try to stay away from them or at least greatly reduce them.

Last year I did a fast, the beginning of it eliminated caffeine, sugar, and white flour. I felt great. Don't know why I didn't stick to it, but I want to work my way back to that.

Thanks for the info.

Camevil said...

This is a great article. I'm forwarding it to hubby and a friend who both have wheat/gluten intolerances (including full blown celiacs disease).

When my hubby's doctor was consulting with him about his food issues, they talked about taking the blood test...which would cost around $600 from a local specialist. The doctor just looked at him like a simpleton and said, "just cut the foods out." No brainer. I guess we're so used to being medicated around foods we shouldn't eat. That's why there are so many problems in the beef industry: they force feed corn and grains to cows, who cannot naturally digest them. So, cows are pumped with antibiotics to enable them to digest this crap rather than give them what they're supposed to eat.

In the medical malpractice/personal injury practice of the legal profession, attorneys learn quickly that some of the most costly medical procedures are the diagnostics. Treatment/solutions are cheaper and sometimes don't cost a thing.

Debbie said...

One of my sons had a terrible reaction to anything with milk or milk proteins in it when he was a baby. We did the whole medical testing thing,which was not pleasant, and it said he didn't have the sensitivity. I no longer put any faith in them.

Chandy said...

Hello, SITStah! Wow, so much to think about with every food you ingest nowadays. I don't have true allergies but I seem to itch mildly when I eat fish but I also feel great after I eat it. Go figure... As for chocolate, I love it but it seems seasonal to my taste buds...

Thank you for coming by and celebrating with me yesterday. I felt so loved by all the wonderful comments like yours! Visit anytime! ;-)

BetteJo said...

Okay don't hate me, but I work for a laboratory. I get all my lab work for free so if it's something we test for and I ask my doctor to order it for me, he will. Sending an email to work right after this to see if my company does that kind of testing!!

Um - don't know if I'm allergic, but sugar makes me sleepy and all the natural and raw foods make my body much happier than everything processed.

WhisperingWriter said...

As of right now, I don't think I'm sensitive to anything. I basically just pig out. Of course I DO gain weight if I pig out too much. I wish I could have the metabolism that I had in high school but alas, it's long gone..