You’re careful about your health. You do your best to eat well, and you pay attention to the ways that your diet affects your energy levels....but something seems off. You’re experiencing annoying symptoms that you can’t explain. You’re often gassy and bloated, your skin may not be clear and glowing anymore, you may be ready for a nap after a meal and you wish you could remember where you put your keys. Why does your memory feel so foggy?
These issues are frustrating (and often embarrassing) and they’re also very common. Many patients that come to see me are already living a fairly healthy lifestyle, but are baffled by continuing digestive issues, mysterious rashes, and low energy levels. If this sounds familiar, it may be time to take a good look at your diet. Even a “healthy” food can make you sick if your body is sensitive to it, even if you're eaten it your whole life without issues until now. For many, the food mystery becomes both frustrating and overwhelming when trying to understand what foods are nourishing you and not making you feel terrible.
The good news is that you may not have to look very far to make changes that relieve your symptoms. With a bit of detective work, and a bit of help, you can map out a dietary plan that restores your well being.
What are the Symptoms of Food Sensitivity?
Food sensitivities can be tricky to diagnose. Symptoms can vary widely from person to person and can even be different depending on what else is happening in your body. For example, you might respond differently at different stages of your menstrual cycle, or if you’ve been under more stress or not sleeping as well.
Food sensitivities can cause or contribute to:
Another reason why a food sensitivity is often a missed diagnosis is that these symptoms can be delayed up to 72 hours after a meal, so many people don’t make the connection between what they ate and how they feel. Even the most incredibly observant people can find it difficult to notice that they feel brain fog 3 days after eating a “normal” food.
Similarly, it’s difficult to measure how many people suffer from food sensitivities because a lot of us don’t seek medical help, figuring that it’s “normal” to feel gassy and tired all of the time. In fact, conventional medical practitioners can be skeptical about food sensitivity symptoms, which can lead to frustration for patients. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
What Causes Food Sensitivities?
It’s important to recognize the difference between food allergies, food intolerances, and food sensitivities. Food allergies are immune reactions. After eating a certain food, your body’s immune system launches an attack by making its own protein, called immunoglobulin E (IgE). The next time you consume that food, your body is ready to attack again. The IgE causes your body to release a chemical called histamine, which triggers the physical symptoms of an allergic reaction. This is the type of allergy reaction one has to pollens and dander. With food, it can cause frightening anaphylaxis reactions.
A food intolerance occurs when the body loses the ability to produce a certain digestive enzyme. Lactose intolerance occurs when the body cannot produce the lactase enzyme, and fructose intolerance occurs when a body cannot produce the fructase enzyme. Eating foods with lactose or fructose will then cause gas/bloating and diarrhea to occur (and can be a sign of Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth)..
A food sensitivity reaction occurs when you eat a food and it forms an antigen/antibody reaction. That is, a different part of your immune system binds to the food, the IgG reaction. Those immune complexes can cause intestinal and systemic problems in the body and mind. There are specialty labs that can detect this reaction. In our practice, we use Alletess Labs to identify these reactions.... and one blood draw can uncover up to 184 food sensitivity reactions!
If we continue to eat that food sensitivity, the lining of the gut can become inflamed and damaged. Eventually, it can become permeable, so the undigested material “leaks” into the bloodstream. Not surprisingly, this is called “leaky gut” syndrome or intestinal hyperpermeability.
What is the root cause of food sensitivities? And why are they becoming increasingly common?
There are many medical reasons:
Which Foods Can Cause Food Sensitivities?
Uncovering food sensitivities is a fantastic reason for seeing a Naturopathic Doctor – we have the tools to help identify if a particular food is making you sick. In addition, medical supervision can ensure your approach to food remains healthy and balanced. Research suggests that food sensitivities can be a trigger for disordered eating in some people. After all, if food is causing you pain, but you’re not sure which foods are to blame, it’s easy to associate your diet with negative experiences.
How Can You Treat Food Sensitivities?
At our office, we identify and address foods sensitivities with this approach:
Sometimes food sensitivities are only the tip of the iceberg and we have to go deeper and look to other causes of your symptoms. You can read more about that here.
Uncovering food sensitivities is a truly a game-changer for many of our patients. If you suspect that something is off, I would love to offer you a complimentary Health Discovery session to see if our approach is right for you.
Are you overwhelmed trying to find a health care provider that "gets it"? Someone that is legit, not too woo-woo and who cares about you? You'll want to pay close attention if you are looking for a professional with a natural approach.
1. They should be licensed.
Look for somebody with an accredited degree. For example, seeing a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine, Doctor of Chiropractic, Doctor of Osteopathy, Registered Massage Therapist, Licensed Acupuncturist etc. means that they have completed an undergraduate degree, followed by specialized post-graduate degree and standardized licensing exams. Although there are lots of great weekend courses out there, there is no substitute for a rigorous medical education when it comes to your health.
2. A good referral network and social media following.
You want to know that you are in good hands. If friends or family members are having good results with a certain practitioner, ask who they are seeing. Most people are only too happy to recommend their go-to person. Likewise, check for social media involvement - a website that is frequently updated, blog, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube videos etc. etc. show that the practitioner is engaged with current health issues and welcomes patients who are ready to "do the work". A good practitioner also knows when it is time to refer you elsewhere.
3. Experience in treating your concerns...
Ask if the practitioner has ever worked with someone who has similar concerns. If there is a positive track-record working with people also experiencing acne, migraines, hypertension, or anxiety (for example) the Naturopathic Doctor probably has tried several different approaches, and has a few favorite strategies in mind.
4. ..and willing to look outside the box for answers.
We are all different. What worked for your neighbour's Irritable Bowel Syndrome may not work for you. You want to know that your naturopath won't throw in the towel if the tried-and-trues are not getting you the results that you want.
5. Someone with whom you feel comfortable expressing your concerns, thoughts and opinions.
This is by far the most important of all. Regardless of the piece of paper on the office wall, the number of years in practice or how busy the waiting room, you want to feel comfortable. Your naturopath, chiropractor, massage therapist, or acupuncturist should want to know how you are experiencing your symptoms. You should never feel pressured into treatments that you are uncomfortable with or come home with hundreds of dollars in supplements that you don't why you're taking. You should feel free to be honest, express your concerns and get feedback.
I have practiced Naturopathic Medicine and acupuncture in Stratford, ON since 2013, and previously at the RSNC, Sherbourne Health Centre and Anishnawbe Toronto. I am licensed with the College of Naturopaths, OAND and CAND. I love working with a wide variety of health conditions in children, teens, men and women have great results with lots of people just like you. My bottom line is that I treat people, not just their disease.
If you are looking to improve your health and want the highest quality of care book a Health Doscvery Session to see how I can help you.
Dr. Keila Roesner
Your Stratford Naturopath
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Dr. Keila Roesner is a Naturopathic Doctor. When not treating patients she is also an enthusiastic barefoot-strolling, music-loving, yoga-doing kitchen wiz - who also happens to be a wrestling fan.