Have you ever wondered if your lack of energy, frequent colds or mood could be related to your digestion?
Then you haven’t been to a holistic doctor! Those of us who have been down this path for sports or health reasons, often laugh because while traditional medicine wants to prescribe medicine they want to “fix your digestion!”
Of course while we’re laughing, we’re also going “isn’t it crazy how right they were?!”
A few years ago as my hair began falling out, my nails turned brittle, my fatigue became so intense I didn’t want to get out of bed let alone enjoy my runs, I wanted answers. Traditional medicine took awhile, but we found my 0 estrogen and then…well nothing to make things better.
Then to my great luck, I found Dr Gonzalez, a functional medicine doctor.Traditional Chinese Medicine has long held the belief that your gut is one of the cornerstones to health. This thought process has only recently started to enter in to mainstream Western Medicine with the rise of people asking for testing of allergens like gluten and corn to see if it will help them lose weight.
“A vast array of chronic diseases ranging from cardiovascular, auto-immune, musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal, and gynecological can be rooted in the dysfunction of the digestive system. “ – Acupuncture Today
UNDERSTANDING THE GUT
We’re no longer talking about the stomach, we’re talking about the entire digestive track. The intestines are where nutrients are absorbed and then distributed to the body. The GI tract is where your body produces 70% of its serotonin, maintains your immune system and so much more! While I have referenced a food sensitivity there are many things that could throw off the delicate balance of your digestion:
- Processed foods
- Too much caffeine or alcohol
- Not enough fiber
- Food sensitivities/allergies
So how do you know if your gut might be the cause of your ongoing health troubles? Clearly I’m going to recommend finding a functional medicine doctor because that was so key for me, but as you’ll see in the options for testing below the systems are wide ranging and you might be shocked to find just taking out a food can make you feel so much better!Learn how fixing your digestion could improve your energy, weight loss and mood! #health Click To Tweet
FOOD SENSITIVITY TESTING
What does all of this mean for you?? If you’ve been eating right and exercising, but continue not to feel well it’s time to do some digging!
Don’t accept that feeling tired, sad, achy or anything else are simply how it has to be. Since sharing how much better I feel removing certain foods, I’ve received a lot of emails and questions about how to find out if you have a food sensitivity.
First, here are definitions of the difference between a food allergy and food intolerance or sensitivity.
When it comes to testing, there are two basic options:
- Blood testing – Expensive, quick, painless, generally accepted as correct
- Food journal – Free, time consuming, very accurate
Whether you do testing or the journal here are some common areas you should take note of to compare for improvements:
Skin Clarity – Areas of breakout or blotchy, dry skin?
Hair – Is it dry or brittle?
Digestion – Stomach pains, nausea, gas, bloating, bathroom habits
Are you taking any supplements?
Understand that the food journal takes at least a week of tracking to begin seeing patterns and that with a food sensitivity you may not feel bad immediately from eating the food, but 6-24 hours later.
Find a free journal at GoDaryFree. I like this one because it is very detailed and will help you more specifically identify symptoms. After doing the journal for a week, then you start the process of elimination. If it seems from your journal that dairy causes you to break out the following day then try removing dairy for an entire week. It will take your body some time to remove the inflammation from an allergen, so give yourself a complete week of dairy free and then begin tracking your symptoms again.Are they still appearing after having removed the food for at least 7 days?
You can then try adding the food back to see if symptoms are worse or remain the same. If it is a sensitivity you will probably notice them get worse fairly quickly as your body was finally getting rid of the inflammation. If nothing changes, then you move on to the next food to eliminate for testing.
Food Allergy Testing
As noted food allergy testing can be expensive because it is frequently not covered by insurance. There are a number of online sites where you can request one or you can talk with your primary care doctor. If you are interested in testing, my holistic medicine Dr sent me to this lab and these tests:
1. Triad blood spot (MMX0410) – if they had to do one test, this would give the most info.
2. Food allergy (IgG 184) – if they just want to know foods they are allergic to
3. Adrenal test (MMX0043) – stress is the primary culprit
4. GI effects complete (MMX2100) – any stomach related issues
Results Of Eliminating Foods
For those who still think this is all a little nuts, a quick note on my own results!
I discovered my favorite food on Earth during our honeymoon time in Switzerland…quiche (only second of course to my all time love affair with ice cream). This little gem is something I treat myself to when I travel and also what kick started my daily love affair with making a veggie omelet at home.
A la Italy 2009 when I found what I hoped was a real sized treat after hours of hiking.In an amusing twist of fate my food sensitivity test revealed I am allergic to basically all the components required for my favorite food – eggs and milk. I suppose it could be worse, had the test included nuts in the foods to avoid I’d need to be committed to a psych ward.
In denial, I kept eating eggs for awhile because darn it they are good for me!!! Finally I agreed to take them out for a week and the result was almost immediate.
- My acne has cleared up. – It was never bad, but I was always broke out along my nose and fighting it on my chin. I had tried ProActiv with no results and now only break out after having too much sugar or dairy/eggs.
- My whole body seems less bloated. – Weight that I was baffled about over the last 6 months seemed to just go away and all of my clothes got looser.
- My energy has skyrocketed. – I have not had this much energy in at least a year. I have been sleeping 9-10 hours a night for a LONG time, now 8 is plenty.
- My aches and headaches stopped. Recently I noticed a slew of days with headaches and decided it was time to see what I was eating, turned out it was coconut…taking it out, those things cleared up!
Outside of eliminating a food sensitivity you can help your digestion with a few other things. It’s all part of creating a more holistic plan to care for your gut because now you understand that it controls your entire immune system!
70% of your immune system lives in your intestinal tract. Keeping that flora healthy, keeps you healthy.
Ways to help support your digestion:
- Yoga to reduce stress and relax
- Ginger – I love it in tea in the evening or in ginger chews while traveling. However, you need to be sure not to over do the ginger because it also has a drying effect.
- Glutamine – This will help rebuild the lining of your stomach. I put a little in with my protein powder or in a smoothie.
- Probiotics – Help to restore the right kind of bacteria and as with all supplements quality matters!!! Don’t go cheap here!
- Digestive Enzymes – These help your body to break down the food better so you can absorb the nutrients. Again, a game changer for me!
- HCL – Many who have had long term issues have very low HCL (stomach acid) which prevents absorption of Iron. This one can also give you stomach pain when taken wrong or too much, so talk to a Dr.
- Fish/Krill oil – Reduces inflammation overall
- Fermented foods – sauerkraut, pickles, miso, kefir
- Cooked vegetables – Skip the worry over but raw is better and realize that if you can’t digest the vegetable your body gets nothing from it. Cooked veggies and warm foods are much easier on the stomach.
Of course this might look like a lot, but honestly when you feel AWFUL this is just a program to get you back on the right track. Eventually you might use less or not use it all, but to start out give your body all the support you can!
Have you ever done a food test?
Have you tried eliminating foods to feel better?
Other ways to connect with Amanda about Running!!
READ MORE: How Your Food Sensitivity is Impacting Your Workouts >>