As idyllic as a toxic-free world would be, the bottom line is that we no longer live in a world of no pesticides, herbicides and a host other chemicals that are liberally sprayed on our food and into our environment. Ultimately, the degradation of our food quality is unleashing havoc on our health; and is manifesting through the development of intolerances towards particular foods.
Our evolutionary bodies require real food, movement, sleep, connection, downtime, and sunlight. In today’s society, we’ve created what nutritionist Cyndi O’Meara, founder of Changing Habits, describes as “a perfect storm of events that is killing the body’s ability to tolerate and adapt to food.” Cue, food intolerances—and plenty of ‘em, with one in three Australian’s, avoid gluten, dairy or meat due to adverse side effects, according to a CSIRO study.
Here’s what you need to know about food intolerances—how to decrease your chance of developing them, and what to do if you have one:
They can come out of nowhere
According to Cyndi, someone could tolerate a certain food for the most of their life, then suddenly reach their zero-tolerance threshold, which renders them unable to physically deal with eating that food anymore. Reasons behind someone becoming ‘suddenly’ intolerant towards a particular food include intestinal permeability in the gut (leaky gut) and dysbiosis of the microbiome. These (very science-y sounding things) essentially mean there is less protection for the gut lining and less communication between the gut and immune system to protect against adverse reactions to food. In other words, a compromised gut is a gateway to food intolerances.
Other reasons include the lack of minerals that are present in the food we eat—primarily due to depleted soil quality—and the poor sanitisation of foods like leafy greens, which are often either not washed, or washed in a heavily chlorinated water supply. Bit of a bleak outlook, isn’t it?
Cyndi encourages people to focus on seasonal, local and organic produce, which inherently lends itself to a rainbow diet. If something is in season for you locally, this invariably means it is the best quality and hasn’t been spoiled by sitting in a shipping container for god knows how long.
While eating seasonally and ensuring a good rotation of foods does help to prevent food intolerances from forming, Cyndi reinforces the fact that modern food production and processing is the main reason for the onslaught of food intolerances.
Cutting out the food that is irritating the body, then healing the gut wall lining and supporting the body’s detoxification pathways (aka your liver, kidneys, and skin) is the key to combatting a food intolerance. Increasing the value of the foods you’re eating by making them as nutrient dense as you can also help support the healing process, alongside picking organic produce where possible and harmonising your gut microbiome by upping your consumption of fermented foods.
Listen to your body
While many people will be able to fully reintroduce the problem food, it might be a matter of only allowing yourself to consume small amounts of it if it’s still troubling you when it comes to reintroduction. There are no hard and fast rules, however, as Cyndi says, “the key is listening to your body. If it makes you feel good, eat it. If it makes you feel terrible, stop. Most people have stopped listening to what their body is trying to tell them, and getting back in tune with it is fundamental to any healing protocol.”