Every now and then I consult with someone who has numerous food sensitivities. Sometimes such a person will also be sensitive to many different supplements and herbs. It admittedly can be a big challenge to help a person who is dealing with this problem, as a big part of a natural treatment protocol involves eating well and taking certain supplements. But some people are very limited with regards to what they can eat, and some aren’t able to take most supplements without having a reaction. How can someone who seems to be allergic to just about everything receive good results when following a natural treatment protocol?
This definitely isn’t an easy situation, and it could be frustrating to both the doctor and patient. Some doctors will just tell these people to eat the best they can, and to try taking at least a few of the recommended supplements. Other natural healthcare professionals will encourage the person to follow a certain diet and to take all of the recommended supplements, regardless of whether doing so worsens their symptoms. This in my opinion isn’t the best approach, but on the other hand, just telling the person to eat what they can and to take whatever supplements they can tolerate probably won’t do much to optimize their health either.
Two Main Reasons For Widespread Sensitivities
There can be numerous reasons why people are sensitive to many foods and/or supplements. But in most cases this is related to either 1) problems with the liver detoxifying, or 2) increased intestinal permeability, also known as “leaky gut syndrome”. Sometimes it can be a combination of both of these conditions. But either way, these problems obviously need to be addressed. And once they are addressed this frequently will correct the widespread sensitivity problem.
Let’s go ahead and take a look at each of these health issues:
1) Problems with the liver detoxifying. Our liver is constantly being bombarded with toxins. There are toxins in the foods we eat, the products we use, and the air we breathe. I’ll consult with people who have been eating well for a few years and use natural products, and yet still have a lot of sensitivities. Well, perhaps their liver is detoxifying just fine, but on the other hand, just changing one’s diet and switching to natural products might not be sufficient.
For example, if someone has been eating poorly for years and is being exposed to many other environmental toxins, then this very likely will affect the detoxifying capacity of the liver. And if such a person just begins eating well and minimizes their exposure to environmental toxins, this without question will help, but won’t necessarily restore the health of the liver.
Plus, one needs to keep in mind that everyone is different. As a result, some people are able to handle these toxins better than others. Some people eat a horrible diet for many years and don’t use any natural products at all, yet don’t have any noticeable food sensitivities. I say “noticeable” because they probably do have some problems with their liver and/or digestive system, but just aren’t experiencing any overt symptoms. But this can be frustrating for the person who is eating well and using natural products yet is still symptomatic when eating many different foods and/or taking numerous supplements.
2) Increased intestinal permeability. This also is a big issue, as many people have problems with the gut, which definitely can lead to multiple food intolerances. I’ve spoken about this condition in previous articles and blog posts, but what essentially happens is that due to numerous factors, one develops problems with the intestinal lining, which allows proteins and other larger molecules to pass through into the bloodstream, where they aren’t supposed to be, and as a result the immune system mounts a response. I have discussed in the past how “leaky gut syndrome” can trigger an autoimmune response, and this condition can also lead to the development of sensitivities to foods and supplements. And by healing the intestinal lining and rebalancing the gut flora you are very likely to correct the food sensitivity issues.
How Do You Correct These Problems?
Okay then, if someone has one or both of these health issues, then how does one correct the problem? Usually a combination of eating well and taking certain supplements are necessary. However, since the person with a liver detoxification problem or increased intestinal permeability won’t be able to tolerate certain foods and supplements, this can be challenging. Often times one needs to begin focusing on their diet and minimize the supplementation. Many will need to follow a protocol similar to the GAPS diet, which is a very strict diet that requires the person to eat a lot of fermented foods and pretty much cut out all of the processed foods and sugars. If you’re not familiar with this diet then you can find out more about it online by visiting www.gapsdiet.com. There is also a book on this diet. I’m not suggesting that everyone with widespread food sensitivities will need to follow this diet, but many people with this problem can benefit greatly from it.
As for how long will it take to correct these problems, this obviously varies from case to case. I typically will have someone follow a liver detoxification program for three weeks, but in some cases they might need to follow this for a longer period of time. Increased intestinal permeability will usually take longer, as it usually will take anywhere from two to six months to correct, although in some cases it can take longer than this.
In summary, those who have sensitivities to different foods and supplements usually have a problem with 1) the detoxifying ability of their liver, 2) increased intestinal permeability, or 3) a combination of both conditions. Although this can be a challenge to address, it definitely is possible to do so, and usually the focus needs to be on one’s diet, with a minimal amount of supplementation required. One also needs to realize that it will take time to correct this problem, but the good news is that in many cases correcting the cause of the problem will allow the person to eat most foods again, and to not have a problem taking most supplements and herbs.