Food intolerances have certainly become quite the epidemic.
But, hey, they're a fun way to be snobby and unhappy with the food everywhere you go, right?
Yeahhh...not so much.
In reality, it can be frustrating, and even embarrassing to be the one person at the table who special-orders their food, while everyone else orders whatever they want.
And if you're trying to identify food intolerances, or sensitivities for the sake of health and autoimmune issues, it gets very confusing, very fast.
If you ask 100 different people what's the best anti-inflammatory diet, you'll get 100 different answers.
And it's not just blogs, or articles, but frequently doctors, nutritionists and even scientists who disagree on what's healthy.
One week you'll see a study praising the benefits of coffee……... the next week there's one saying it’s bad for you.
One study proclaims "Saturated fat - the good fat", the next one claims "It’s not safe, it's never been safe!".
To make matters worse, with the growing list of known food allergies & intolerances, you have to wonder; what foods ARE safe?
People have problems with meat, dairy, sugar, grains, nuts, legumes, salt, nightshades, seeds, oil, spices, fiber, and even fruits and vegetables.
I mean, my god, what's left to eat?
This mess of confusing and apparently contradicting info leaves most people thinking, "well......everyone is just different, I guess".
In other words..........we don't get it!
But the truth is, there ARE consistent truths in diet, biology, nutrition and health.
Every diet, protocol and regimen I've tried has it partially right, and partially wrong.
So when something is 1/2 true, and therefore somewhat helpful, it will certainly help some people..... but not everyone.
And not usually long-term, which is really what matters.
A big part of the confusion is the disconnect between what an ideal diet looks like, and the effect of that diet on someone with poor health.
In other words; the health of the individual affects the food they can eat, just as much as the food that's eaten affects the individual!
Even if something is the perfect health food; it can be problematic or even dangerous if your health is poor, which is the case with autoimmunity.
Think about someone who is very, very sick. I had a friend in the hospital with leukemia and in that situation, even fresh fruit was dangerous.
Is fruit dangerous? Of course not, but for someone with lowered immunity, anything can cause issues.
Now if you scale that logic out, you can see, that for many of us with moderate to severe autoimmune issues, we have the same problem, but on a different scale.
Most people usually see improvement when starting a new diet because they've recently eliminated something problematic, but run into problems long-term, because they don't know how to sustain their progress.
It reminds me a bit of the weight loss industry.
There are a million crash diet programs and motivational trainers who can help you lose weight quickly, but few people know how to keep the weight from coming back at some point down the road.
Similarly, a supplement, medication, or health coach can help you lower inflammation short-term, but very few people have any idea on what to do to prevent flare-ups from coming back in 6 weeks, much less 6 months, or 6 years!
And that's what you really want; control over your health and future, and to be not be confused about what's happening in your body.
Or why something that used to work, stopped working.
You don't want a band-aid solution, you want to a long term game plan with the confidence that you won't always be at the mercy of a potential flare-up.
This is why I'd never take advice from anyone who hasn't achieved 100% relief from EVERY SINGLE symptom long-term.
I'm talking, at least 4 years or more, of permanent relief.
So with all the conflicting info, how do you know what your food intolerances are?
Well, you can go to a naturopath, or doctor, or order food intolerance testing online, like the ALCAT test.
But these will cost you anywhere from $100 to $800 dollars, and they don't teach you anything about how to understand your body.
This is a problem, because when your body changes (which it will) your food intolerances change!
What we can (or can't) tolerate is likely to be different 6 months from now, or a year from now.
It will change with our health, age, stress-levels and metabolic rate.
It can get worse and more restrictive if you're health is declining, or better and more freeing if your health is improving.
So if you take an allergy or intolerance test, you'll probably improve some symptoms for some time......but you haven't learned anything about how your body responds to different situations and environments.
Your knowledge about how to stay healthy will be very limited to the "rules" you've established for yourself.
For instance, I used to be absolutely convinced dairy was "not for humans" and very inflammatory. I avoided it like the plague and was convinced it was an unhealthy food.
But once I started listening to, and learning my body, (and did more research) I was able to add back in organic grass-fed dairy products and I only got better and better, and BETTER!
For me, it was one of the biggest puzzle pieces I was missing and helped take me from miserable, and inflamed to strong and healed.
This was because it was a large source of easily digestible protein along with minerals, calcium and progesterone, which no amount of green leaves was able to replace in my diet.
If I had been blindly following a test result, instead of watching and observing the dynamic changes in my body, I would've never tried milk again, and then be confused when I can't get better.
If you don't want your progress to stall, or go backwards, you have to be a participant in your healing through intuition and empirical evidence, so you can tell what you need, when you need it.
IN other words, the VERY BEST way to determine your food intolerances is to simply let your body tell you!
Now, this isn't as easy as popping a pill, or taking an allergy test, but neither of those things work long-term, anyway.
Often, our relationship with food is distorted because of diet culture, habits, favorite foods, or advertising, so it'll take a little time to get back to your baseline natural intuition.
If you've ever done strict dieting, or believed certain foods are bad for you, or were fearful about food causing flare-ups, it can really mess with your body's signals about what you actually want, and need.
So, you have to get REALLY good at listening to your body, being aware of everything that affects you, and observing the affects of everything you eat (while tracking your metabolism).
Don't worry, I'll explain.
To discover your food intolerances & establish your idea diet, you'll want to do 3 things:
Track your metabolic rate
Track your food
Track your symptoms
1. Tracking Metabolic rate
Now, you're probably wondering, why would I track metabolism? What does that have to do with food intolerances?
Well, to answer that, and to realize the power of this, you need to be willing to re-think what most of mainstream medicine tells you.
Mainly that; symptoms aren’t related.
They’d say you need different treatments for different symptoms, and that only certain factors like genetics affect disease.
Your diet can cause epigenetic modification, and anything you put on your skin, anything you drink, and even your feelings (HELLO stress-hormones) can affect any variable of health.
And on the flip side, anything that’s healing, can be healing for multiple issues.
I have tried so many diets, taken so many allergy tests, blood tests, ph tests, lab tests; you name it, I've tried it.
And one of the big mistakes I always made, was looking for that ONE fix; a new diet, supplement, or medication.
For example; I remember reading a story about a lady who said she got pain free with apple cider vinegar and honey.
So, of course, I tried that ONE thing for several weeks hoping to get relief.
It didn't work.
And I realized, my solution wasn't likely to be found in one single silver bullet.......
What I really needed to do, was to focus on getting my whole entire body healthy....
And believe me, I thought I was eating healthy.....but I was missing the mark by a long shot.
I first needed to heal my metabolism, provide nutrients, eliminate toxins, and THEN everything else would start working as it should.
In other words, to heal any part of you, you need to heal all of you.
Focus on the WHOLE.
Now, I’m not saying that there aren’t some good remedies for specific ailments that can help, but what I AM saying is the best “cure”, or solution will always be a healthy body.
This is the reason I was able to eliminate:
Crippling rheumatoid arthritis
Uvitis (inflammation of the eye)
Nausea and hypoglycemia
All at the same time, and all with the same treatment.
Essentially I resolved all of the above, just by getting healthy!
My new goal became to be healthy........ instead of worrying about arthritis, and by focusing on that, everything got better!
So by tracking the effect of various foods on your metabolic rate, you'll be able to correlate any changes (whether positive or negative) with those foods, and pinpoint your specific needs and intolerances.
And that's exciting, because once you start learning what’s good for you (and what causes problems), you'll be closer to establishing your own custom diet plan, which you can finally feel confident about.
And not only does this method complement your current state of health, but it will also allow for changes, so you can use the same method to adjust your diet as you heal.
At the simplest level, tracking your metabolism involves logging 2 basic things:
This is because (in general) anything that lowers your temperature and pulse will make you weaker and sicker.
Even a small decline in temperature can promote inflammation.
And (in general) anything that raises your temperature and pulse will improve energy, digestion, mood, sleep, and LOTS more good stuff.
Now, I say “in general”, because there are always exceptions, but those exceptions are few, and far in between.
The majority of the time, temperature and pulse are very helpful, and reliable bio-markers.
In fact, in my experience, they're much more accurate than lab tests when it comes to symptoms and metabolic markers.
You'll want to take your temp 3 times a day, for about 2 weeks to establish where your current metabolic rate is at.
If you only do it for a few days, or 1 week, it won't be enough to account for daily/weekly variables.
Your 1st measurement should be upon waking; before you even get out of bed.
And the next two should be about 30-60 minutes after lunch, and then before dinner. Also, make sure it's at least 30 minutes apart from any vigorous exertion, or exercise.
2. Tracking food
This one is probably fairly obvious, but I can’t emphasize enough how important this is because it’s so obvious and simple; it often gets over looked.
Most people think they know what they eat......until they start tracking.
I’ve been doing this for years and, believe me, once you start meticulously tracking you’ll realize there are constantly things that would've been forgotten, if you weren’t writing it down.
Our lives are so busy, and food is not as simple as it used to be, ESPECIALLY if you ever eat packaged foods, fast-foods, or to-go meals.
There are often more than 20 + ingredients in boxed food, canned food, or restaurant meals.
EVERYTHING you eat matters, including condiments, sauces, snacks, drinks and water.
This might seem arduous, but you don’t have to do this forever.
It's just very important in the beginning, while you establish a routine, and learn how different foods affect you.
The best tool I've found for this is called Cronometer.
It's a free app, and there's also a desktop website option.
If there’s an app, or website you already like to use, just make sure it's able to give you a full breakdown on the nutritional content of everything.
Chronometer is great because it has a very comprehensive database and it gives you the complete profile of the food you enter.
You'll not only get calorie, carb, protein and fat content for each item, but also the individual vitamin, mineral and amino acid amount.
You can even scan bar-codes of packaged foods, in addition to manually adding whole foods.
And it remembers your commonly used items, which saves a lot of time in the long run.
Once you’ve started tracking your food, take note of the things that make you feel better, and start eliminating things that slow you down (brain-fog is a good indicator), or cause other issues.
Long-term you’ll need a balanced and complex diet, but when you need to heal, it’s imperative that you nail down a simple diet for the sake of avoiding confusion.
I recommend going as simple as possible, while still getting enough calories. You need energy if you want to keep inflammation down.
If you don't get enough nutrition, that alone can cause inflammation, so don’t fear calories.
Remember everything in your body works together....every cell, hormone, bone and organ is "on the same team", so to speak. They are meant to work together when properly equipped with the right tools (enough energy and nutrition).
So by lowering inflammation (by increasing metabolism), you'll also increase energy and functionality, which will help shed excess fat.
Pro-tip - Focus on foods that are:
VERY easy to digest (avoid nuts, legumes/beans, grains, or very large meals)
Smaller, frequent meals or snacks
Those tips alone will save you a lot of trial and error.
3. Tracking symptoms
Tracking symptoms is also very important.
Now, you might think, “Ok, I don't need that. I’m WELL aware of my issues, girl".
But if you consider that every symptom is really a vital diagnostic, you’ll realize it’s super important to record everything, not just the obvious things.
You might think your only symptom is pain, but what about low energy, or allergies? Poor attention skills, motivation, brain fog, or low sex-drive? How about indigestion, PMS symptoms, bad mood, or poor sleep?
All of those are indicators from your body that something is off, and by tracking them alongside what you ate, you’ll have a much better handle on what’s working.
If you’re like I was, you probably have several health issues, and once you solve 1 problem, it’s easy to forget about it, and put all your focus on what’s still a problem.
For example, after a few months of working on healing my metabolism, I suddenly realized my Premenstrual lower back pain had disappeared.
But I didn’t notice at first, because I was so focused on the next problem.
If you have 10 problems, and you get rid of 1, your focus automatically goes to the 9 problems left, instead of noticing what's working.
It’s human nature to only notice the problems.
By tracking and logging everything, you’ll soon get waaaay more in-tune with your body and how certain foods affect you, plus you won’t miss the little improvements along the way which point you in the right direction.
After your 1st week of logging temp, pulse and symptoms, review that alongside your food log to get an overview of how each meal, or type of food affected you.
Keep in mind, you can have a reaction up to 3 days after eating a certain food.......so look at the overall effect of your diet each week; then adjust accordingly.
What you want to look for:
Foods that raise or lower your temperature and pulse to (or from) the ideal range.
Also, take careful note of what temperature range you feel your best at, and notice what food you ate, (or didn't eat) around that time.
Consider not just the macros, but the specific ingredients in each food item.
Read the label of any, and all packaged foods, and don't eat something if you don't know what's in it.
Not all food types are created equal.
For example, here are 2 different chocolate ice creams.
The Haagen-Dazs brand of ice cream has real, whole food ingredients which you'll recognize, but the Turkey Hill brand is full of indigestible and even carcinogenic ingredients such as carrageenan (which has been banned in Europe).
So, if you eat ice cream, you can't just log "ice cream", because you might be assuming dairy is a problem for you, when really it's the carrageenan.
Personally, I can eat Haagen-dazs chocolate all day long without a problem, but I would never touch a food with carrageenan in it, (like the Turkey Hill brand).
And even within brands, you'll find variations. Haagen-dazs is good when it comes to Chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and coffee, but many of their other flavors have a bunch of junk in it.
Moral of the story; read your labels!
IMPORTANT: There are several variables which can affect your results, which I learned the hard way.....the very hard way.
There were many frustrating experiences, and maybe even some ugly crying....
So let me help you skip all that.
The 1st problem is hormones and inflammation.
These can easily give a "false positive" by raising your temp and pulse the WRONG way.
And by the way, most of use use our stress hormones daily (even if you don't feel stressed) so this throws a big wrench in the mix!
The 2nd one is aiming for the wrong temp and pulse.
This is a common problem because current "normal" temperature and pulse ranges are waaay off-base (partly due to misunderstanding the effect of hormones, as well).
Both of these issues can really mess you up.
So I made a quick tutorial on exactly how to track, and what to look for, to avoid mistakes regarding hormones and inflammation, and you'll also learn what your goal temperature and pulse should REALLY be.
Click the banner below for your FREE training, and you'll also get the very same metabolic tracker I use!
Free stuff, AND free help.
Now, that's a no-brainer! :)
These tools are the 1st steps in learning how to heal, and the very things I wish someone had shared with me years ago.
It would've saved me so much time, which is invaluable.
Time is the one thing that none of us can add to, or get back, no matter how much money we have, or who we know.
So, go grab the tutorial and tracker now, so you don't waste any of YOUR time or money on crap that doesn't work!
Cheers to learning, tracking and healing, baby!
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The role of metabolism in the pathogenesis of osteoarthritis. www.nature.com/nrrheum/journal/v13/n5/abs/nrrheum.2017.50.html?foxtrotcallback=true#references
Metabolic regulation of inflammation http://www.nature.com/nrrheum/journal/v13/n5/full/nrrheum.2017.37.html
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