In part one of this series we talked about the signs and symptoms of food intolerances.
It’s important to establish the facts, an intolerance isn’t necessarily a permanent new body feature, but more so a food that as it stands in this moment, your body has a hard time dealing with. And whilst the symptoms may be wide and varied ranging from skin issues to period pain, the reality is we are all unique and our symptoms may vary. It means it can be a little tricky to navigate when we realise we do have some type of reaction to certain foods however, at the core of the issue is your gut and making some slow and steady additions (and subtractions) you’ll begin to address the root cause of the issue rather than the symptoms. For you and your body, this is good news, since treating symptoms alone hasn’t really ever got anybody too far.
To really make inroads in treating your intolerance, we must begin to address the digestive system on the whole. Your digestive system begins in your mouth and extends the entire way through your body (I’ll let you use your imagination). Whilst your intolerance may be specific, by simply removing it from your diet will only half treat the problem. This is however, a useful step in treating any intolerance if you are aware of an offending food. If you are unsure if you have an actual issue with certain foods, it’s not necessarily at this point essential and often by treating the gut on the whole, such reactions dissipate. There are certainly very specific gut healing protocols that work very well in treating digestive illness and inflammation, but for the everyday there are some very simple and effective steps you can put into place to set the wheels in motion. I want to outline these for you in 4 easy steps.
Strengthen gut permeability.
Gut permeability refers to the integrity of the gut wall itself. If the gut wall is compromised (for reasons we will discuss in step 2) because the cells aren’t nice and tightly packed together like sardines in a can or inflammation and abrasive inflammatory foods such as gluten have caused some damage to it, this can pave the way for what we have referred to as ‘leaky gut.’ Leaky gut is exactly as it indicates, where the ‘tube’ that is the digestive system has micro-tears or holes in it allowing food to move through. Not ideal. Strengthening the junctions of the cells of the gut can be done in a few ways. Collagen helps to strengthen these bonds as does zinc. But what’s more, removing inflammatory foods or foods you are intolerant to will allow for more effective recovery. Collagen is found in slow cooked meat broths, stews and soups.
Support the microbiome.
The microbiome is the essential bacteria that extends over the entire outside of our body as well as the entire way throughout the digestive system. Medications like antibiotics and the pill as well as poor food choices and stress are some of the factors impairing and damaging this good flora. If this essential swag of good bacteria are cleared or damaged, it can lead to a host of issues including intolerances as the gut flora is responsible for a host of things like your immune system but also aids in the assimilation of food. If we can’t adequately digest food, we can’t go on to facilitate the needs of our body. So, if adequate bacteria are missing, it may be a contributing factor to your intolerance issues. Probiotics by way of fermented foods and supplements really help to support healthy gut bacteria and for some reintroduce what may have been compromised.
We here at Your Tea really get this. When we can adequately break down nutrients and encourage good digestion we definitely feel better for two reasons. Firstly, when we aren’t digesting well we can feel tired, bloated and unhappy as our body prioritises energy to breaking down food. This is especially hard when it isn’t actually working properly. But what’s more, if we are always playing catch-up trying to provide essential vitamins and minerals for energy, it can leave us feeling very average. Maximising digestive energy (hello Digestive Herbs, formerly Tiny Tea) can make the world of difference. It also means we need less food to be satisfied since our body can get what it needs – meaning you don’t feel as hungry often helping you to manage a healthy weight.
Stress of some kind is generally at the crux of any intolerance. Stress will also upset the microbiome. As we discussed in part 1, stress isn’t simply feeling the pressure of a deadline or running late. It may be eating average food and not supplying your body with what it needs (or maybe missing out because your body can’t assimilate), it may be thinking unhealthy thoughts, not sleeping properly or having nutrient deficiencies (often they go hand in hand). It’s important to look at where your stress is coming from and make necessary changes to those things you can. For sure some things in life warrant stress, but when we are living in a state of overwhelm, we can begin to choose stress as it has become habit. Ask yourself, is your stress really necessary and begin to get very conscious of what you are stressing about. It can be quite interesting to see that maybe what you thought was stressful isn’t actually such a big deal after all.
The gut is a very complex system and depending on your health history you may need to dig deeper into overcoming your intolerances however, if you’re yet to address these 4 factors, it certainly is the place to start in really making some good tracks to recovery. You can very safely start with these and see where it takes you. It’s more than likely that you’ll notice some all round improvements.