I also have this posted on my and Chef Lilly Allison Steirer's blog Health from the Hearth, but I thought it might be useful to have this here as well!
In my 12 years of seeing patients, it seems that the frequency of food intolerances has increased exponentially in all age categories. I think this is perhaps due to a combination of increased sensitivity to foods as well as greater awareness of our bodies and the potential role food sensitivities can play in various ailments. During the springtime, we focus on helping the body eliminate wastes more effectively by optimizing the function of our liver and large intestine. One of the most powerful ways we can do this is to avoid any foods to which we are sensitive. This will decrease inflammation in the digestive tract and throughout the body and improve our ability to properly utilize the nutrients in our food.
What is the difference between an allergy and a sensitivity?
I like to make this distinction because there are clear differences between different types of food reactions. This is because our immune system makes different types of antibodies. Antibodies are “flags” made by our immune cells; when these cells recognize a foreign protein in the body (from a bacteria, a virus, or an allergen like pollen or a food), antibodies are released which tells the body to make inflammation.
As I have mentioned before, one of the most profoundly satisfying parts of my job is watching people make choices that result in better health. Each of us is truly our own best doctor, but sometimes it can be quite confusing to figure out what signals to listen to. For example, often one part of our brain is telling us "I need coffee and cookies! Get them now and eat them all!" and another part of our brain may be saying "mmm...perhaps not." One of these voices tends to be much louder, though and can make it difficult to ultimately make good choices.
Sometimes in order to really understand how our bodies respond to how we treat them it is helpful to take a break from our normal routines. There are many ways to do this, and frequently it involves dietary change. In my practice, I frequently will do blood testing for food sensitivities--when we get the information back, we will take the elevated foods out of the diet for 4-6 weeks. Generally, people will feel much better during this time--we frequently see a reduction in many symptoms including joint pain, skin problems, fatigue, allergies, and digestive complaints. However, one of the best parts of doing this, I have found, is the amazing sense of self awareness that people develop around what goes into their bodies. When they start adding foods back, I will often hear comments about how different foods produce different sensations in the body. This increased understanding makes it infinitely easier to make good choices because it becomes so clear how good we feel when we eat what is good for us. Additionally, we become that much more powerful as our own doctors because we know how to choose to feel good.