Vail Daily health column: Food sensitivities could be the cause of your health problems |

Vail Daily health column: Food sensitivities could be the cause of your health problems

Susan Drake
Special to the Daily
Susan Drake
Special to the Daily |

Have you have been to multiple doctors and had endless tests yet nothing is conclusive? You may have brain fog, fatigue, depression, rashes, sinus, respiratory and digestive symptoms, and diseases like celiac, thyroid, arthritis, and other autoimmune conditions. You’re probably at a loss as to how to find relief.

Clinical studies conclusively show that food and chemical reactions can cause a variety of symptoms associated with many conditions. Believe it or not, inflammation caused by food and chemical reactions starts in your gut!

The National Institute of Health has been a front runner in microbiome research and its affect on the human body. Our digestive tract needs these healthy bacteria (Bifidobacteria and Acidophilus) to maintain its health and integrity. It is responsible not only for food digestion but our nervous, hormonal and immune systems. In fact, 60 to 70 percent of the immune system resides in the large intestine, emphasizing the importance of intestinal health.

Ninety five percent of all chronic disease has an inflammatory component. Gut integrity prevents or sets the stage for food sensitivity, immune dysfunction, inflammation and chronic disease. Determining and removing foods that cause inflammation can be an important part of breaking the cycle of chronic inflammation and improving patient outcomes.

Food allergy OR sensitivity?

Let us first review the differences between allergies and sensitivities.

People often say they are allergic to certain foods, but upon further assessment, the symptoms described are not those of food allergies, but rather food sensitivities or intolerances.

Food allergies occur in less than 5 percent of the population. The body mistakes the food eaten as an invader and sends antibodies to fight it. Typical symptoms present within four hours and may include anaphylaxis, runny nose, itchy mouth or eyes, or hives. Common food allergens include milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts (walnuts, pecans and almonds), wheat, soy, fish and shellfish.

A food intolerance/sensitivity is an inflammatory response. Food intolerances occur when the digestive system is unable to digest food particles. These particles can enter the blood stream where the T-helper cells see these foods as invaders causing inflammation.

Some symptoms of food intolerance overlap with food allergy symptoms. People with food intolerances are usually able to consume small amounts of food without experiencing adverse reactions, while even small amounts of food allergens can cause severe reactions.

Extensive research has shown that excessive production of such molecules can attack and cause damage to normal tissues by triggering the inflammatory response. Inflammation is believed to be the underlying process involved in disease formation.

Establishing and maintaining good gut bacteria is a constant battle. Our bodies are continually being exposed to pathogens, pesticides in foods, antibiotics, food-triggered sensitivities, processed foods and stress. Good gut health takes a daily regimen of eating healthfully, stress reduction and eliminating food sensitivities.

Susan Drake is a registered dietitian and nutritionist. To learn more about how to test for food sensitivities, contact her at


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