Paleo Diet Manages Food Intolerances & Allergies

Millions of people around the world have food allergies and this number is on the rise according to Western diets contain foods that can cause inflammatory reactions in some people and these types of harmful foods include:

  • processed grains
  • vegetable oils
  • and packaged goods filled with artificial ingredients

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So what exactly is a food allergy?

A food allergy is a biologically measurable inflammatory response after consuming a specific food, an abnormal response to a food triggered by your body’s immune system. In adults the foods that mostly trigger allergic reactions include:

  • fish
  • shellfish
  • peanuts and tree nuts

While problem foods for children can include:

  • eggs
  • milk
  • peanuts
  • tree nuts
  • soy and wheat

An allergic reaction may be mild but in some rare cases it can cause a severe anaphylaxis reaction. Some symptoms of food allergies include:

  • itching or swelling in your mouth
  • vomiting, diarrhoea or abdominal cramps and pain
  • hives or eczema
  • tightening of the throat and trouble breathing
  • a drop in blood pressure

There are many reasons why some people experience food allergies and these include genetics, a stressed immune system, poor gut health and conditions like leaky gut syndrome (intestinal permeability). You can prevent the symptoms of food allergy by avoiding the food/s causing the issues.

And what exactly is a food intolerance/sensitivity?

A food intolerance or sensitivity occurs when a person has difficulty digesting a particular food. This indigestion can lead to symptoms such as intestinal gas, abdominal pain, constipation or diarrhoea.

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Food intolerance can be a difficult concept to understand and it can be poorly understood by doctors as well. Sometimes substances within foods can increase the frequency and severity of migraine headaches or the stomach upset of irritable bowel. Coincidence can often confuse the issue, as we spend many of our waking hours eating or drinking.

What is the difference between food intolerances/sensitivities and food allergies?

A food intolerance is sometimes confused or mislabeled as food allergies but there is a difference. Intolerances involve the digestive system while allergies involve the immune system.

With a food allergy, even the tiniest amount of the particular food ingested has the potential to lead to a serious or life-threatening reaction (anaphylaxis). Whereas food intolerances do not cause any severe allergic reactions.

The best approach to finding out whether you have a food allergy or intolerance is to first consult your doctor or naturopath to:

  1. Make a diagnosis (such as migraines, hives, irritable bowel, recurrent mouth ulcers);
  2. Determine whether dietary (or other) factors play an aggravating role;
  3. Identify individual triggers to be avoided.

Going Paleo

If you have severe allergies or just want to take a more serious approach to gut healing, you may want to consider the Paleo diet as it promotes a return to a simpler lifestyle, a whole food based approach to eating. Foods eaten on the diet include:

  • wild protein from meat (grass-fed), poultry, fish and seafood
  • fruits and vegetables (carbohydrates)
  • and healthy fats like nuts, freshly pressed oils and avocado

The diet allows for adequate but not excessive carbohydrates and fats, sufficient to fuel your needs and it allows for enough protein to maintain lean body mass. Paleo is a varied diet and supplies vital vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, amino acids, antioxidants, polyphenols and fibre.

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Many people see awesome results when they switch to a paleo diet, like weight loss and health improvement and this lifestyle is now being promoted by a growing number of health practitioners.

Also a number of research studies have confirmed that the Paleo diet is effective for:

  • managing Food intolerances/allergies
  • type 2 Diabetes
  • blood pressure reductions
  • appetite control
  • and multiple sclerosis

The Paleo diet promotes foods that are far less likely to cause reactions and can actually help the gut and immune system to heal while recovering from allergies and sensitivities. These healing foods include

  • leafy greens - one of the easiest food groups to tolerate, and also the most nutrient-dense, green leafy veggies like kale, spinach, watercress, dandelion and chard provide minerals and B vitamins that help improve immune function
  • wild-caught fish, meat or free-range chicken - all are good sources of protein (amino acids), B vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids in the case of fish. They are less likely to cause reactions compared to eggs, dairy, pork and shellfish
  • bone broth- made from steeping beef or chicken bones along with vegetables in stock. The healing minerals and amino acids (like collagen) from the bones leach into the stock and help support the healing of leaky gut
  • probiotic-rich or fermented foods - probiotic foods like kombucha, sauerkraut and kimchi help repair damaged intestinal lining and repopulate the gut with healthy bacteria
  • breast milk for infants - this is the best way to prevent food allergies in your child
  • coconut products - coconut oil, milk and “meat” are great sources of fatty acids that help with gut function, hormone production and nutrient absorption. They’re less likely to cause allergic reactions than nuts and seeds.

Below are common culprits for allergies and food intolerances are not permitted on the Paleo Diet:

  • gluten - gluten’s a protein found in all wheat, barley and rye (some oats too) that’s very likely to cause gut reactions, whether you realize it or not. Remember gluten is found in all bread, wraps, pizza, rolls, cookies and most cereals. Plus it’s hiding in most packaged foods in one form or another.
  • milk and dairy products - some people can tolerate organic, full-fat, unsweetened dairy products (especially if they’re raw and unpasteurized), but many have negative reactions like bloating, cramps, etc.
  • sugar - added to nearly all packaged foods, sugar can cause bad bacterial overgrowth and an increase in food intolerances and autoimmune reactions
  • artificial ingredients found in packaged foods - these GMO’s like corn, soy, canola and vegetables oils are likely to be found in packaged foods
  • peanuts and other legumes
  • soy

Food allergy/intolerance has become an epidemic in our modern world. Whereas a food allergy was considered an anomaly just a few decades ago, today one in 13 children in the United States suffers from a life-threatening anaphylactic food allergy. And this figure does not include those with celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, lactose intolerance, or any other type of food intolerance.

As the major site of dietary absorption and the home to 80 percent of your body’s immune cells, it makes sense that the gut is a key player in the pathology of food allergies. Heal and maintain your gut on a Paleo diet – The elimination of grains, dairy, sugar, soy and legumes plus a nutrient dense diet with very few (if any) processed foods will help heal your health issues.

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