This is a guest post from my friend, Jennifer, who blogs over at Feasting on Joy. I asked her to share this post on my blog because this article speaks a message that I intended to write. I love this article as it is and felt I couldn’t say it better myself. She is a wealth of knowledge and I recommend visiting her website for more great articles on faith, health, and home at Feasting on Joy. To learn more about Jennifer, her bio is at the end of this article with a clickable image to take you to her website.
Foods have a powerful means of facilitating optimal health or impaired health! 15 million American adults are affected by depression each year according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. According to Migraine.com more than 37 million people suffer from migraines with 2-3 million of them being chronic in nature! On top of that autoimmune disease is one of the top leading causes of death which I learned from AARDA (American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, Inc.) Adverse food reactions due to leaky gut can and do cause depression, migraines and autoimmunity!
Do You Experience Any of the Following?
Any Autoimmune Condition
I Suffered From Horrific Migraines and Destructive Depression
For my entire life, except the last five years, I suffered from debilitating migraines that would land me in bed writhing in pain because my head felt like it was going to explode. I endured chronic depression since before my teenage years and even, at times struggled with suicidal thoughts. My ailments were so scary and I felt extremely helpless at times.
However, there’s great news!
I have not experienced these symptoms on a chronic basis since I examined and eliminated certain foods from my diet! Did you know that the same victory can happen for you? The foods I am going to talk about in this post are critical for you to assess and potentially exclude from your diet. If you take the time to do this I guarantee you will feel better and be able to function in your life without being chronically ill. I know you want to live out your God-given purpose in life and to do that your body must be functioning at an optimal level.
The Definition of Reaction
I want to make sure that I am clear about the type of reactions I am referring to in this post. When it comes to food there are a few different ways you can experience a health backlash. The first is called an allergy. This is when an anaphylactic shock is involved which can be catastrophic. The other type of reaction that can happen is an immune response which comes from a food sensitivity, not an allergy. This immune response manifests in symptoms mentioned above. In reference to this post, I will only be referring to the type of reaction that comes from a food sensitivity.
Gluten is a protein structure found in wheat, rye, barley and hiding in virtually every processed food out there due to additives and preservatives. Although gluten has been around since Bible times, the gluten we eat today is not the same as back then because now, it has been hybridized.
This protein can cause intestinal damage and increase visceral fat which in turn alters our hormones signals. The gluten of today is not tolerable for our bodies like the gluten in ancient times. According to Dr. Mark Hyman, “It contains a superstarch, amylopectinA that is super fattening….super inflammatory…and acts like a super drug…” The gluten in grains (specifically wheat) today is about 80% of the protein content when in long times past it was 5% and below. That’s a radical change that our body doesn’t know how to process. God made grains a certain way because He knows what our body can and can’t handle.
Eliminate gluten from your diet for at least one month to see if your symptoms subside. I must state that it takes six months for your gut to heal from a gluten exposure so the longer you can eliminate gluten the better! Yes, I know what you’re thinking! I can’t give up my bread. Guess what, I have a five-star gluten, grain, dairy and nut free bread recipe I know you’ll love.
The dairy of today is what I like to call pseudo-dairy. Milk resembles the liquid that came out of the animal in color but when you analyze it on a molecular level you will discover it is hugely altered from its natural state because it’s been pasteurized and homogenized. GMO’s, pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics and synthetic hormones are also found in today’s dairy. The alterations and contaminants can be a perfect storm for your body to react adversely when you consume dairy.
Did you know pasteurization actually kills the living enzymes in the milk that were placed there by God to help humans digest the milk proteins and sugars? It’s no wonder millions of people have dairy intolerance today. You can get more detail about pasteurization and other alternatives here.
While you are healing and in turn getting rid of your symptoms, it’s important to eliminate all dairy from your diet.
Once your symptoms have subsided, there are better choices you can make when reintroducing dairy.
- Introduce organic raw dairy and organic fermented raw dairy.
- This kind of dairy will have the living enzymes in it to aid in proper digestion and it will be free of the contaminants I mentioned above.
- While you are abstaining from dairy, choose filler-free coconut milk. It’s a great substitute!
Contrary to popular belief, soy is not a health food. I used to eat tofu and edamame and drink soy milk and think I was being healthy. Little did I know! Much like gluten, soy has permeated every food product out there. If you’ve ever seen “soy lecithin” on an ingredient list you should understand that comes from GMO soy. Soy in and of itself can play tricks on our hormones mimicking the ones that God gave us. It has phytoestrogens in it which are protein structures that resemble our own estrogens. These phytoestrogens can alter our hormone function causing severe PMS, hot flashes, depression, headaches and more! If I have any soy product now I always wake up in the middle of the night with hot flashes and in a puddle of sweat. I’m not even menopausal! In boys, soy can cause breast buds to develop as well as alter their levels of testosterone due to the phytoestrogens.
Soy is prevalent and you will need to be vigilant to determine what foods it’s in that you eat. I recommend eliminating it from your diet because of the adverse reactions it can cause. You will see a positive change in your hormones when you do.
Nuts & Seeds
If you said yes to having any of the symptoms at the beginning of this post, it’s likely you have intestinal permeability (a.k.a leaky gut). This is caused by the breakdown of the intestinal barrier that should be protecting our body from foreign invaders entering.
Nuts and seeds have been found to exacerbate leaky gut and further increase the breakdown of the intestinal wall. They have antinutrients in them due to their lectin and phytic acid content. These components actually bind to vitamins and minerals and pull them out of our body so we can’t utilize them. If you are nutrient deficient then you will most definitely experience many of the symptoms mentioned at the top of the post.
Both of these types of snacky foods are also high in Omega-6’s and most Americans already eat way too many of these types of Omegas. Omega 6’s drive up inflammation. It’s really important to get more Omega 3’s than 6’s in our diet since they cool the inflammation.
Consuming nuts and seeds can cause food sensitivity to other foods due to the continuing breakdown of the gut wall. You can also react directly to them since nuts and seeds are a food that is very high in mycotoxins – mold, which sends the immune system into a hyper-reactive mode when consumed.
It’s best to eliminate these while striving to figure out what is causing your symptoms and healing your leaky gut.
When all your symptoms are gone and you feel ready to reintroduce nuts and seeds be sure to introduce the following:
- Buy raw, which means they haven’t been irradiated and still have living enzymes in them to help be more digestible.
- Buy organic because they will be free of molds, pesticides and herbicides.
- Soak and sprout your nuts and seeds before you eat them to reduce the amount of lectins and phytic acid in them which, in turn, makes them easier to digest.
Grains (Including Corn)
Much like nuts and seeds, grains fall into the same category to avoid. I remember having a conversation with my uncle eons ago about how there were actually people who didn’t eat any grain! Little did I know that only a few months after that conversation I would be one of them.
Grains contains lectins, phytic acid and saponins which protect them from being digested. These factors alter our gut lining adversely by having a negative effect on the enterocytes which line the intestines Enterocytes are responsible for transporting nutrients across the barrier. Many grains these days are hybridized which make them distinctly different from their ancient day counterparts. The hybridization in grains makes them unrecognizable to our bodies. In turn, our body will attack them as foreign and cause an all out immune response.
Corn is a grain! Do you ever notice when you go to the bathroom after eating corn it’ still intact and you can see it in the toilet? That’s because it can’t be digested due to the protective lectins. God made corn that way so it can continue to reproduce, even after traveling through a digestive tract. Another big problem with corn is that it is GMO! Ingesting this grain will make your gut have a harder time healing.
Americans eat enormous amounts of grain which is one-factor causing nutrient deficiencies and the prevalence of leaky gut which has come to epidemic proportions. Before I changed my diet, I ate grains at every single meal, every single day. My grain portions were too big as well. Did you know a portion of rice is 1/4 cup? It’s not an entire bowl like most of us eat.
Let your gut heal and you will see a reduction or complete disappearance in your symptoms. When it’s time to reintroduce, only consume ancient, gluten free grains like:
- Buckwheat (this does not have gluten in it)
- Be sure to soak and sprout these grains to reduce the lectin and phytic acid level in them.
Lastly, let’s tackle the topic of eggs and why you may be sensitive to them. Eggs are a mainstay in most diets, however, there are many people who react adversely to eggs.
Egg whites contain a proteolytic enzyme call Lysosome that, when consumed, can bind to other protein structures and pass through the gut barrier causing an immune reaction. This can manifest in a variety of unwanted symptoms. Lysosome does not go away when eggs are cooked either. Egg yolks are not problematic and do not have this enzyme but nonetheless should be avoided for a time since the white directly surrounds the yolk.
In spite of being an excellent source of protein along with vital minerals our bodies need, it is beneficial to stay away from eggs for a period of time when trying to heal.
You can try to reintroduce eggs when you have remitted your symptoms. However, there are certain types to choose that are better than others.
- Choose organic because it means your eggs won’t come from animals that eat GMO feed and are given hormones and antibiotics.
- Choose soy free because they won’t be GMO and because of what you learned above about the negative effects soy has on our systems.
- Organic, soy-free, pastured eggs are the best if you can find them.
- Better yet, raise your own chickens so you can control what they eat and how much time they spend in the outdoors foraging. Remember – chicken are carnivores NOT herbivores! They like to forage and eat bugs and insects.
What Foods Should YOU Be Avoiding?
Hopefully, I have given you a thorough understanding of why these eight foods contribute to food sensitivities and adverse reactions. You’ll notice that there aren’t any “Better Choices” for the gluten or soy sections in this post. That’s because those really should be avoided indefinitely. Temporarily getting rid of dairy, nuts, seeds, grains (including corn) and eggs and permanently steering clear of gluten and soy will remit your symptoms. You will give your gut time to heal and seal itself which consequently will reduce the amount of foods you are sensitive too.
Remember to make better choices when you decide to reintroduce foods. Not everyone will tolerate all foods upon reintroduction. We are all different and by trial and error you will discover which foods you are sensitive too and cause reactions for your body. The victorious outcome is that you’ll be able to remit your debilitating headaches, chronic depression, eczema, autoimmunity and more!