Nutrition is vital and important to anyone’s existence. Putting the right things in our bodies is such a definitive and necessary thing to get right. It makes us healthy, it gives us the necessary substances that build life, monitor bodily functions, assist with processes that have to occur and helps us to prevent disease from taking root in any of our systems.
When we put the right things into our body, we flourish. Its really simple. However, every individual needs their own version of the ‘right things’ to make sure that their individual system is the one that is being maintained. Very rarely is it a case of what works for one person, works for all. Each of us needs our own personal ‘tweak’ to get the nutrition wheel right for us.
In this way we need to be aware that each of us may indeed have our own ‘toxic responses’ to that which we put in our bodies. Food is just such an important part of the equation that we need to consider when thinking about our health. And for some of us, we can have reactions or intolerances to certain elements that set us off. It’s quite simple. Some of us cannot eat nuts – they set off an anaphylactic response in our system that shuts down our breathing and will kill us. Now not every foodstuff has this dramatic response, but even on a subtle scale, it can sometimes be important to keep in mind the things that do ‘set us off’ and make us feel less than 100%.
Food intolerances and food allergies are different beasts. A food allergy is an immune response that involves the activation of mast cells in the body that signal the release of mast cell mediators (like histamines) that deal with the direct stimulus of an allergen. Reactions to these mast cell mediators are usually immediate and direct responses to the stimuli. A food intolerance is a detrimental reaction to a substance that is not associated with an allergy. It refers to the resulting effects on other body systems. There are a multitude of causes for these types of responses and their time frame is usually more delayed and less dramatic, though no less debilitating in the long term to someone’s ‘daily health.
Intolerances can be the result of the absence of certain enzymes, proteins or chemicals that are needed to process a food substance. An individual may not be able to process a substance as efficiently as others and thus may be lacking in a certain nutrient that prevents the effective digestion of such a food. It’s not a disease, it’s more an imbalance and this can occur on many varied levels throughout the body. In this way intolerances can also depend on the amount of food is ingested. Whilst a small amount may be tolerable, a larger stimulus will result in compromised bodily function on a more debilitating scale. It’s a bit like eating the dairy product that’s past it’s use by date. Surely it’s just some good bacteria in there that my stomach could probably deal with? Well that may be the case, but if it’s eaten all in one sitting and without much else, then this level of stimulus can result in an adverse reaction.
The other factor of intolerances is that they tend to become more chronic in nature. With a slow onset, it is often difficult to determine that a substance is actually causing you harm. It can be like a bottle of good champagne – one bottle is delightful and makes one feel heady, giddy and frivolous. 3 bottles turns you into a ravaging beast that is uncontrollable and ‘off the chart’ with energy and powerful emotive responses. It’s only after a few hours of heat induced sleep and badly positioned body contortions that you realise that the 3rd bottle was probably bordering on that toxic level! Well, the hangover at least. These chronic conditions also tend to affect ‘females’ more than males – so yes I am sorry gentleman, you can’t just say to your other half, “oh toughen up and get over it” as food chemicals can and do mimic hormones and with females more of a hormonal free for all than men, they can tend to be more susceptible to food intolerances.
Take for example the two differing reactions to dairy. There is a ‘Cow’s Milk Allergy’ that stimulates a rather violent and immediate purge of a carton of of jersey’s Best. Whilst Cow’s Milk Intolerance is a much more subtle and vastly complex besast. For example - Some of us are lgE-mediated intolerant to milk products where our system is unable to process the proteins in dairy and has a pathological response to the stimulus of the antibodies in dairy. Technically it’s a immune-pathological mechanism - deficiency in regulation and a polarisation of specific effector T cells towards type-2 T helper cells (Th2) lead to signalling of B-cells to produce milk protein-specific IgE.. Whereas some of us are “non lgE-mediataed intolerant to milk products and this type of ‘intolerance’ has many various forms and processes, which may include: type-1 T helper cell (Th1) mediated reactions, the formation of immune complexes leading to the activation of Complement, or T-cell/mast cell/neuron interactions inducing functional changes in smooth muscle action and intestinal motility.
Phew – so you can see that there is much that can be missed in a direct diagnosis and an identifying of the specifics of an intolerance. In this way, it is a process of experimentation and elimination. Basically cutting many things from your diet in an attempt to re-introduce them to your system in small quantities and monitor the reactions. Abstinence is a slow process that can also be a trying process that attempts to eliminate the usual suspects but may indeed miss the slightly subtle. However, working over time with this and with qualified professionals can be of great assistance in deterimining what it is that is undermining your health.
It takes investigation. Like any good result, you have to try and persist with ‘chasing the cause’, utilising the help of those who are familiar with the types of intolerances that may be existing and be stimulating ill health. This is where Naturopathic and Nutritionist advice can be most advantageous in helping you to identify what may be contributing to that which is making you stay in bed all day.