Most food allergies are caused by eight foods: cow’s milk, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, shellfish, fish, soy, and wheat. Unlike food intolerances, food allergies are caused by your immune system incorrectly identifying some of the proteins in food as harmful.
Not all food allergies and sensitivities are immediate or obvious. If they were, it would be so much easier to narrow them down and avoid them altogether. Many foods that Americans eat regularly cause subtle, but problematic, reactions in the body. If we eat enough of these foods over time, we may not realize that they are causing issues because we get used to simply not feeling great.
What Causes Food Sensitivities?
According to the Mayo Clinic, food sensitivities and intolerances are caused by:
- Absence of an enzyme needed to fully digest a food. Lactose intolerance is a common example.
- Irritable bowel syndrome. This chronic condition can cause cramping, constipation, and diarrhea.
- Sensitivity to food additives. For example, sulfites used to preserve dried fruit, canned goods, and wine can trigger asthma attacks in sensitive people.
- Recurring stress or psychological factors. Sometimes the mere thought of food may make you sick. The reason is not fully understood.
- Celiac disease. Celiac disease has some features of a true food allergy because it involves the immune system. Symptoms often include gastrointestinal issues as well as those unrelated to the digestive system, such as joint pain and headaches. However, people with celiac disease are not at risk of anaphylaxis. This chronic digestive condition is triggered by eating gluten, a protein found in wheat and other grains.
Common Symptoms of Food Allergies
- Tingling or itching in the mouth.
- Hives, itching, or eczema.
- Swelling of the lips, face, tongue, and throat or other parts of the body.
- Wheezing, nasal congestion, or trouble breathing.
- Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting.
- Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting.
We have listed some possible foods that may trigger food allergies. Which ones do you think are causing you trouble?
Foods That Can Actually Stress Us Out
This list came from an article at EatingWell.com.
- White flour: White flour is processed and stripped of its most fiber-rich layers – germ and bran. And, because white flour is refined and is missing its outer layer, it gets digested and absorbed quickly into the bloodstream, causing rises in blood sugar levels. This releases cortisol into the body, causing stress.
- Salt: Excess sodium in your body can lead to fluid retention, higher blood pressure, and hypertension, which puts more stress on your heart.
- Processed meats: Processed meats include deli meats, hot dogs, sausage, and beef jerky. To make these products tasty and last longer, manufacturers pump them with preservatives and sodium, which may decrease your energy levels and increase your stress.
- Sugar: Cortisol levels can spike after you sip a soda, eat a slice of cake, or consume anything else packed with sugar.
- Caffeine: As it increases cortisol in the body, caffeine can also lead to a rapid heartbeat and increased blood pressure associated with anxiety. Caffeine can also inhibit the absorption of mood-boosting nutrients such as vitamin D and B vitamins. Plus, it can also keep you from getting a good night’s sleep and that can lead to fatigue-induced stress.
- Fried foods: Diets rich in fried food can cause decreased energy and promote sedentary lifestyles that can contribute to stress. They can cause people to feel sluggish and uncomfortable and less likely to stay active.
- Alcohol: It’s technically a depressant, which means it acts as a mild sedative, making us temporarily calm. But if we drink in excess, alcohol can actually exacerbate anxiety for those who already experience it. Because alcohol is a depressant it can also decrease our levels of serotonin, the hormone associated with good mood, causing increased anxiety.
Foods that Cause Inflammation
Many people experience aches, pains, and discomfort that they easily brush off as “signs of getting older.” However, they could be eating foods that are contributing to their pain and could easily be avoided. Here are the top foods that cause inflammation:
- Trans Fats (baked goods, shortening, microwave popcorn, frozen pizza, refrigerated dough, fried foods, doughnuts, fried chicken, non-dairy coffee creamer, stick margarine, etc.)
- Omega 6 Fatty Acids (soybeans, corn, safflower and sunflower oils, nuts and seeds, meat, poultry, fish, and eggs.)
- Refined carbohydrates (white flour, white bread, white rice, pastries, sodas, snacks, pasta, sweets, breakfast cereals, and added sugars.)
- MSG (common foods that contain MSG include: Fast food, Chinese food, chips, snack foods, seasoning blends, frozen meals, soups, processed meats, condiments, and Instant noodle products.)
- Gluten (Beer, ale, porter, stout, bread, bulgur wheat, cakes, pies, candies, cereals, communion wafers, cookies, and crackers.)
- Casein (milk, yogurt, cheese, and other dairy products are high in casein.)
- Aspartame (an artificial sweetener found in most diet sodas, sugar-free gum, etc.)
Food Allergy or Sensitivity?
Do you think you are experiencing any food allergies or intolerances? You can get tested by your doctor or an allergy specialist. However, you can also do a little investigative research yourself. Pick one food that you suspect is causing an issue and eliminate it from your diet for 30 days.
Keep a journal as to how you are feeling from day one to day thirty. Make note of any common symptoms that food is known to cause, if you have been experiencing them, and if they reduce or disappear over the course of 30 days. Investigate as many food products that contain the food you are eliminating, including sneaky, hidden items.
After 30 days, if you feel better, consider continuing to avoid the food. Then try another food. It is good to only test one food at a time so you can zero in on which foods are causing you which specific symptoms.
If you eat a food you have been avoiding for a long time, the food sensitivity or allergy may be much more obvious to you. You might also find you don’t like the food anymore. This is common with artificial sweeteners. People who stop drinking diet soda often report that they no longer like the taste of it.
Which food are you going to start with? Let us know how it is going for you.
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