Allergies and Diverse Diets
Do some foods leave you with a horrible tummy ache? Or does it seem that some foods just aren’t sitting well in your tummy? Chances are your gut isn’t at its optimal level. While good sleep and exercise will help, much of what you eat will make a huge difference. You don’t have to be stuck with these discomforts and pains forever. There are ways to manage your diet and care for your gut without having to completely give up your favourite foods forever.
If you have any clinical symptoms, known allergies, immune issues or any suspected diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, high blood pressure or a history of cancer, then it’s best to get some medical check-ups and blood work done. You want to be checking the count of your red blood cells, white blood cells, liver enzymes, triglycerides, cholesterols, uric acid, thyroid hormones, vitamin D, and do a urine and stool analysis for a start before tweaking your diet according to those results.
However if you don’t have such clinical symptoms and are instead looking to enhance your gut health day to day, there are many things you can consider doing. I’ll outline all the types of habits you can start in the subsequent chapter. For now, I want to walk you through how you can test for any allergies, sensitivities, or intolerances you may have towards specific food items.
Just because you’re allergic or intolerant now doesn’t mean you’ll have this reaction forever so don’t worry if you can’t have your favourite omelette anymore. You can start testing your sensitivity by doing the food elimination test to reset your body and reduce your allergic reactions.
The food elimination test is simple. Cut out certain foods that are known to trigger allergic reactions. The foods to cut out are dairy, shellfish, eggs, corn, peanuts, fish, wheat, gluten, soy and tree nuts such as almonds, cashews, and walnuts. Take these ingredients out of your diet for about 3 weeks. In place of them, you can have a diet rich in leafy greens, broccoli, and cauliflower with some plain and unprocessed foods, such as beans, chicken, and fruits. It’s a boring diet, but it will help your body to reset. By eliminating these items, you’re also helping your gut to calm down so that it doesn’t have an alert response to some allergens.
After 3 weeks, re-introduce one of the food items while continuing your plain diet. For instance, you can reintroduce dairy back into your diet for 3 to 4 days. But as you do so, you need to be sure that you continue having your greens and eating the diet you have been having for the past 3 weeks. You’re not switching to a new diet but rather adding on to it.
If your body reacts well to this re-introduction of dairy, you can slowly add another potential allergen like corn for a few days. If that goes well, you can add another food item like eggs for a few days. It’s vital that you reintroduce each food item step by step to see how your body is responding. If it doesn’t react well then take a break from that food item and try it again in a few weeks. You’ll find that some foods may need to be cut out for a year and get slowly re-introduced in this manner.
Some allergies come from overeating the same food again and again without having a diverse diet, this overexposure to a certain type of food, causes your body to produce an allergic reaction. More often than not, we tend to gravitate towards the same kinds of food. Whether the food you eat is healthy or unhealthy, it’s not good to have a limited diet.
Apart from shocking your body and causing an allergic reaction, there’s another vital reason for why you need to diversify your diet.
“You need a diverse diet so that you have diverse bacteria.”
Research shows that the more diverse our diet, the more diverse the bacteria in our gut, which is crucial for digestion. It also offers a greater variety of nutrients so that we aren’t lacking such essential nutrients over a long period of time.
Eating in is definitely more ideal to eating out because you have more control over what goes into your meals. But most households rotate between the same five to six meals because it’s easy and simple, especially when you’re working. This then limits the variety of bacteria in our digestive tract which affects our overall digestion.
Eating a diverse diet doesn’t mean you can’t be a vegan. It simply means that within the types of food that you eat, you need to have a diverse range and get a mix of vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts and seeds, and legumes to ensure that you cover all the bases. But if you struggle to get certain food types in your neighbourhood, you can consider taking some supplements to complete that picture.
You need to listen to your body because various foods and diets are required depending on your age, genetics, the level of your activity and many other factors. Some days you are going to need different nutrients to repair the muscles or to provide energy. You can’t afford to keep getting regular medical tests done to figure out what to eat. Also, not everyone can afford a nutritionist. So the best way to pick the right foods is through trial and error while listening to your body.