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Can Food Intolerances Be Attributed To Poor Bowel Health?
By Liz Barrington, Natural Body Healing

Food allergies and food intolerances are becoming ever more common place these days.  Sufferers can experience anything from mild or short-term symptoms such as headaches, skin rashes, bloating or diarrhoea, to full-blown long-term conditions, including coeliac (gluten intolerant) or Crohn’s disease.  The potential causes as to why we should experience certain reactions to foods or drinks can be quite difficult to identify, yet, it’s important that sufferers do try to investigate what’s behind their conditions and then act upon it - otherwise symptoms could worsen as the body becomes more 'irritated'.

An allergy is a reaction that occurs when the body’s immune system over-reacts to a substance that’s normally harmless, causing irritation, adverse reactions, disability, and sometimes even fatality. 

What Is The Difference Between Food Allergy and Food Intolerance?

Food ‘allergy’ should only really be used to describe a specific response caused by an over-reaction of the immune system.  Severe allergy, such as those that can be experienced after eating fish, shellfish, eggs, peanuts, or sesame seeds is immediate and, as already mentioned, it can be life threatening

Food intolerance, on the other hand, tends to be characterised by a delayed onset and is any unpleasant reaction to an offending substance often linked to the behaviour of various enzymes, chemical insensitivities, insufficient production of stomach acids, or the over-production of antigens, intestinal toxins, yeasts, parasites or bacteria in the body.  Typical foods that can cause sensitivities within the body include wheat (and/or other grains), gluten, dairy, eggs, soya, yeast, fish, shellfish, nuts, even certain 'healthy' fruits and vegetables such as citrus fruits, broccoli, peppers and cabbage.

For example, milk sugar or lactose intolerance is not an allergic reaction but it occurs because a person has insufficient lactase enzyme, required for the digestion of lactose.  Certain 'substances' in food can cause a reaction in some people include caffeine (in tea, coffee, chocolate and cola drinks) which can bring on heart palpitations and restlessness; amines (in red wine, chocolate and cheese) can trigger a migraine; some food additives such as tartrazine can cause hives, rashes and asthma; monosodium glutamate in Chinese dishes can produce sweating and dizziness; and ‘Nightshade’ alkaloids in potatoes, tomatoes and peppers can affect the joints. 

The onset of an allergy or intolerance can occur at any age and the substance causing it may be something that has previously been tolerated.  It is thought that the improper weaning of an infant could be a possible cause; with the introduction of wheat grains, eggs and cow's milk at too early an age ie. before the infant is 9 month old, instead of persisting with breast milk.

How Does the Body Typically React?

Our immune system usually protects us from harmful foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria that can cause illness.  However, in the case of someone suffering from an allergy, the system believes that the allergen is damaging and so reacts to it accordingly. 

Immunoglobulins are special antibodies that are produced by special white blood cells called B-Lymphocytes and are found within our immune system to defend against foreign bodies entering the body.  There are several different types of immunoglobulins, with IgA, IgE, IgG, IgM being the most well known.

Usually with an allergic response, IgE (Immunoglobulin E) is produced to fight off the ‘threatening’ substance.  This antibody also triggers ‘mast’ cells to release a chemical, for example, histamine, that subsequently produces an allergic response and its associated symptoms, such as swellings, asthma or a skin rash.  The site of the reaction will depend on where the mast cells are located.  IgE antibodies are mostly found in the skin, nose, lining of airways and lungs. 

Food intolerance primarily gives rise to the production of IgG antibodies to the offending foods.  The symptoms of IgG-induced food intolerance can occur up to 3 days after eating the food concerned, making it very difficult to determine which foods are causing the problem.  It has been shown by various studies, that if foods that produce high IgG levels are eliminated from the diet, the symptoms of food intolerance can be reduced.  Therefore, undertaking a Food Intolerance test should often be the first stage in finding any solution.

Typical symptoms of food intolerance can include general feeling of unwell, tiredness, pale face, puffy skin, vomiting, diarrhoea, asthma, nausea, breathlessness, cramps, bloating, flatulence, blocked nose, runny nose, watery eyes, ear infections, epilepsy, arthritis, skin rash and eczema.

The Importance of a Healthy Bowel in the Reduction of Food Intolerances

A key area in the body that should be investigated further is the intestinal system which is often the root cause of many ‘allergens’ or intolerances.  It’s estimated that two-thirds of people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) have one or more food allergies.  Parasites from infected food and water can cause the same symptoms as irritable bowel syndrome ie. severe bloating and wind, cramping, constipation and diarrhoea.

Antibiotic use, along with the consumption of alcohol, caffeine, aspirin, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can all lead to the overgrowth of yeasts and other unhealthy bacteria in the intestines.  These microorganisms produce toxins that irritate the bowel wall and damage the intestinal mucous membranes, making it more sensitive to certain foodstuffs.  An unhealthy ecology in your intestines will also disrupt peristalsis, the normal flow of food throughout the digestive system. 

Intestinal flora play a vital role in healthy immune functioning – they create natural antibiotics that keep out unwanted micro-organisms and produce anti-cancer substances.  Flora also communicate with each other when there are imbalances within the gut.  They play an important role in nutrition, digestion and they also produce valuable acids (primarily butyric acid) that nourish the intestinal lining.  This is why taking a course of probiotic supplements every few months, to top up the good bowel bacteria, is so important.

Another bowel disorder, ‘Leaky Gut Syndrome’ can often be responsible for many signs and symptoms associated with food intolerances.  Leaky gut is an inflammatory condition in which the intestinal ‘epithelial’ tissues lose their integrity and the layers of tissue between the cells also become semi-permeable.  This allows the abnormal re-absorption of intestinal contents including large protein molecules (most often found in gluten/grains and dairy) which gives rise to increases in immunoglobulin levels.  This causes a wide range of internal disorders affecting the immune system, the autonomic nervous system, and also digestive, respiratory and endocrine systems, putting considerable workload on an already ‘stressed out’ liver.

Do you often suffer from anxiety or panic attacks?  If so, you may have elevated levels of lactate (a soluble form of lactic acid) which can cause anxiety.  Food allergies may hinder lactate removal, so you may want to avoid wheat and/or dairy for a month to see if that makes a difference, and try to reduce your levels of alcohol, caffeine and sugar intake.

How Can You Reduce the Symptoms of Food Intolerance?

1) Firstly, you should visit your GP to ensure that there are no underlying causes for your symptoms.  Once you’ve been given the all clear.  It would then be advisable to have a food intolerance home kit tests which can be purchased online or often through your local chemist/pharmacist.  Subsequently, accurate dietary corrections can be made to eliminate potential allergens.

2) Bowel movements should be normalised to 2-3 per day if possible.  If you suffer with constipation, you should consider taking either ‘Bowel Build’ (for regular but sluggish movements) or ‘LOCLO’ (for irregular, cramping/explosive bowel movements).  If you don’t suffer with constipation, ‘Psyllium Hulls’ provides additional bulk to the diet and has a mucilaginous quality to aid transit.  If you suffer from diarrhoea, then ‘Activated Charcoal’ is also recommended to help absorb toxins and expel intestinal gas.

3) Intestinal parasites (anything that lives off another organism), including worms, an overgrowth of yeast (candida) and bacteria must be treated to ensure that it’s actually you that benefits from the food you’re eating, not your parasites!  These parasites produce toxins that irritate the bowel wall and damage the intestinal mucous membranes.  Our parasite cleanse programme consists of taking: Black Walnut, High Potency Garlic and Bowel Build.

4) Try to avoid chemicals in your food as these also can damage the mucous membranes of the intestines.  Eat organic, natural wholesome foods that are high in fibre, such as fruit and vegetables, ginger, liquorice, eat fresh fish 3 times a week and always drink plenty of water.  Eat plenty of insulin-containing foods such as onions, garlic, asparagus and Jerusalem artichoke which is necessary for bowel wall integrity.  Avoid all processed food, processed sugars, and greatly reduce your red meat, dairy, egg, alcohol and caffeine consumption.  Also, if applicable, greatly reduce your stress levels - as stress enormously affects the proper functioning of your bowels!

5) Recommended food supplements to take daily should include:

Zambroza – powerful antioxidant that will help repair and heal damaged body tissue and cells.

Vitamin B Complex – helps balance the nervous system if the body is overly stressed.  If you do regularly feel stressed, there is a great supplement called ‘Nutri Calm’ which quickly helps calm the body. 

Vitamin C – is necessary for the synthesis of enzymes, hormones and proteins and many functions involving the immune system and tissue development. Without vitamin C the body cannot make collagen, the substance that holds the body’s cells together.

Folic Acid – helps with DNA repair of intestinal villi and is essential for human health.

Zinc – is extremely important to overall health; large amounts are found in the bone and muscle and it is an essential trace element required for sugar metabolism.

Flaxseed Oil or Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids - helps normalise anti-inflammatory pathways.

Glucosamine – this supplement is integral to bowel wall integrity.

Psyllium Hulls, Slippery Elm, Mullein and Aloe Vera are all excellent sources of mucilaginous fibre that produce butyric acid, essential for healthy intestinal and respiratory membranes.

Food Enzymes – these are useful if you’re looking for support in normalising digestion, as they will ensure that the food you’re eating is broken down sufficiently, making it much easier on a stressed-out digestive system!  Take these for a period of 1-2 months maximum.

6) Take probiotics for at least a month, to re-establish the protective populations of healthy bowel flora.  Nature’s Sunshine’s ‘Probiotic Eleven’ provides billions of beneficial intestinal micro-organisms along with fructo-oligosaccharides to support their growth. 

7) Avoid unnecessary drugs and laxatives, and exposure to chemicals, as these also damage the intestinal wall membranes.

According to the Royal Society of Medicine, ‘over 90% of all chronic diseases are due to an infection of the gastrointestinal tract’.  Food allergies and food intolerances will often be the body's warning sign that its cells or its systems are impaired.  These warnings should be heeded and acted upon straight away.  Good intestinal health is central to preventing illness and disease in the body.  Whenever your colon is clean and healthy, you experience a greater feeling of well-being and improved general health.

The nutritional supplement product links stated in this article can only be purchased from this website in UK and in Europe; however all other health product links stated on this page are available worldwide from Natural Body Healing.  

The above information should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional.








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