It seems that everybody I talk to these days has some sort of food intolerance or allergy, including myself. Today, twelve million Americans, or 4 percent of the population, have some form of a food allergy, according to the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network.
I ate a ton of bread growing up, and even now when I feel like treating myself, I gravitate toward bread products like pretzels, crackers, and croissants. However, in my late thirties, I noticed that I would get a terrible burning pain in my stomach after consuming bread. This aggravating condition was later diagnosed as gluten intolerance. Now, why would this happen to me out of nowhere, especially since I don’t eat much bread now?
Researchers don’t know for sure why food allergies are increasing. Some experts say it’s our modern lifestyle. People are stressed out, and stress inflames the gut. The body reacts to this by producing antibodies in an allergic response. Also, the ingredients in all the processed foods we eat may trigger allergic reactions.
With allergies on the rise, there may be some foods you’ll want to subtract from your diet at the same time you are adding in healthy foods. This is important: Food allergies and food intolerances can make you fat, bloated, and metabolically inefficient. For these reasons, I recommend to my clients that they pay attention to foods they might be sensitive to—and begin to subtract them from their diets.
Some foods to watch include dairy products and wheat. If dairy products are a problem, you may have lactose intolerance. People with this condition lack the enzyme to break down lactose in cow’s milk and milk-based products. If you’re lactose-intolerant, you have options. You can subtract dairy products from your diet altogether, get your calcium from a supplement or foods like greens and almonds, and make up the protein by increasing your intake of lean meats, eggs, or vegetarian sources of protein. Or you can try some of the products on the market targeted toward the lactose-intolerant, including milk that’s lactose-free. Or use lactase pills, which are taken before eating dairy products. I also have many diets without any dairy at all, so please make use of those!
Another common food intolerance is gluten intolerance, which is what I have. It’s the inability to digest or break down gluten, a protein that’s found in wheat, barley, and rye. This problem is on the rise due to the over-processing and overuse of wheat in too many everyday products and junk foods. If you have to subtract gluten and wheat foods from your diet, replace them with gluten-free products. For baking, you can use rice, corn, and potato flour in place of ordinary flour.
If you notice any symptoms, keep track of the amount and type of foods you eat and any bad physical reactions you have afterward. This will clue you in to possible sensitivities.