There are quite a few catagories of food that can cause intolerance in our digestive systems. One or two categories may be a problem for you, but it is very unlikely that all of them are. In my last blog I talked about elimination diets as a method of confirming which if any Red Flag foods cause issues with your digestion and or auto-immune disease. Below are listed the areas that cause the most problems. This is only half the list, I will post the second part in a few days time…
Gluten; Wheat which was altered in the 1960’s, before we knew the term ‘Genetically Modified’ (GMO’s) to reduce its height and increase the size of the ears, is proving to be a major cause for concern to many of us. It is often hidden in sauces and pre-prepared foods but mainly in products like Beer, Bread, Flour, Cakes, Biscuits, Pizzas, Pasta and Cereals. Gluten boroughs little holes in your gut lining, causing ‘leaky gut syndrome’ where toxins in your gut leak into your body cavity creating a mass of inflammation. All the while your immune system is working overtime trying to destroy these invading toxins. Gluten protein cells look to the immune system like Thyroid cells, this is why it triggers your immune system into attacking it’s own thyroid cells causing Hashimoto’s. Gluten is also the cause with Celiac Disease, where the immune system attacks the gluten proteins and destroys the intestine at the same time. As a general point if we eat too many wheat based products we will be consuming large amounts of gluten in addition to all the pesticides that were used to grow the wheat. Fast foods, preprepared foods, sauce mixes to name but a few things also contain wheat these days, so we are often not aware of the quantity we consume.
Dairy; The potential problem with Dairy products is the bodies intolerance to Lactose. When we get older our bodies often do not produce enough Lactase, the enzyme that breaks down the Lactose, so what we cannot digest causes bloating, gas and diarrhea. Dairy products are hidden in many pre-prepared food stuffs. The normal more obvious consumption is from cow products; Milk, Cream, Soft Cheese, Ice Cream, Desserts etc. However Butter has very little lactose, it is almost all saturated fat, also Hard Cheese, the lactose has dried out in the storage process, and Yogurt, due to fermentation where Lactose is pre broken down and especially greek yogurts where it is strained more in processing have very little Lactose. Changing to the more easily digestible Goat or Sheep products may also work for some people.
Corn; a very high proportion of corn is Genetically Modified (GMO’s) which has potentially serious health risks…as we are discovering 50 years following the wheat modification. It is in a variety of things not just the vegetable Corn, there is Corn Flour, Corn Oil, Corn Sugar, Corn Syrup, Golden Syrup, Corn Tortillas, Maize, Maltose, Dextrose and even Xanthan Gum.
Soy; The bean is a common cause of allergies, and again it is in the main grown from GMO stock. It can slow down Thyroid function, interfere with digestion and upset the Endocrine system. This is another product you will find in everything, including soy beans, soy sauce, soy oil, soy milk, soy nuts, soy ice- cream, soy protein and textured vegetable protein, Tofu, it is also used as a flavouring in a multitude of pre-prepared foods, including nearly all Chinese and far eastern dishes. Symptoms range from tingling in the mouth, itching, hives, swelling of lips, mouth, throat, wheezing and breathing difficulties, abdominal pain, nausia, diarrhea and vomiting, and in extreme cases anaphylactic shock. It is unusual for soy products to cause severe reactions, there are normally other intolerances that are a involved when it becomes life threatening.
Peanuts; Are a very common cause of allergic reactions, and along with all nuts can be extremely serious for many people these days. Peanuts contain a mould called aflatoxin which can affect people with liver conditions and candida. Pesticides are also used profusely in their production which can also lead to reactions and inflammatory responses. They contain high levels of omega-6 fatty acids and no omega-3, which also increases inflammation. Peanut butter is loaded with added sugar, normally palm oil and trans fats, so although a vegan favorite, it is not very good for your inflammation levels.
Caffeine; Is a stimulant drug and as such is addictive and creates withdrawal symptoms when reducing or excluding it from your diet. Coffee, and also to a lesser extent, tea and cocoa products along with a range of energy drinks and sodas contain caffeine. But to put it in context a strong cup of coffee (8oz) contains approx 95mg – 200mg of caffeine, whereas a cup of black tea contains 40-120mg depending how long it is steeped, green tea is less at 9-50mg and cocoa contains just 1-12mg. The stronger energy drinks range between 200-400mg a bottle and they also contain very high levels of sugar, the worst case being 13.5 teaspoons in one bottle. The caffeine in energy drinks and sodas is generally chemically made, although it is sometimes extracted from coffee. It can also be found in some cereals, medications and supplements. Adverse reactions include hives, eczema, rashes, acne, severe itching, headaches and migraines, tongue, glands, or throat swelling, anxiety, panic attacks, inability to focus or concentrate, dizziness, heart palpitations or racing and so it goes on. Apart from the reactions, caffeine has a very cleansing effect on the digestive system, it makes the stomach eject it’s contents before it has finished digesting it. Apart from our inability to absorb those nutrients, this can then aggravate the intestines with the undigested food. It also increases blood sugar levels, raises heart rate and blood pressure, suppressing appetite and disrupting sleep patterns. It also effects the central nervous system. However, like all things moderation is the key here. If you consume between one and three cups a day it can actually be more beneficial than harmful. There are many good things in coffee, tea and chocolate, and research is starting to show anecdotal evidence that coffee may inhibit the onset of Alzheimer’s, Dementia and Parkinson’s disease. I cannot say the same of energy drinks!
Please note; I am not a doctor, and as such cannot give anyone medical advice on their condition. As a Holistic Therapist and Chef I can provide you with general information about diet, supplements and natural treatments. Please do your own homework when taking any supplements or changing your diet, and consult your medical practitioner to be sure you are safe, especially if you are taking any medication, have a medical condition, are pregnant or a nursing mother.