New Zealand Fitness - - IN THIS ISSUE -

Eat­ing sen­si­tively By Lani Lopez

Food al­lergy, sen­si­tiv­ity and in­tol­er­ance can cause all man­ner of health is­sues and re­ally im­pair your qualit y of life. Of­ten peo­ple can be suf­fer­ing poor-health, pain, low­ered phys­i­cal and men­tal per­for­mance and not re­alise it is the re­sult of in­tol­er­ance or al­lergy to a food.

Per­haps the most dis­cussed is gluten sen­si­tiv­ity or celiac dis­ease (see break-out box). With­out ex­plor­ing food, this source of dis-ease goes undis­cov­ered, the is­sues con­tinue and even worsen.


Al­ler­gies are de­fined by our al­ler­gic reac tion to cer­tain sub­stances. The ever-vig­i­lant im­mune sys­tem re­sponds to harm­ful sub­stances (tox­ins, bac­te­ria, viruses) with symp­toms we as­so­ciate with ill­ness.

When these symp­toms oc­cur in re­sponse to food it is an al­ler­gic re­sponse. The im­mune sys­tem re­leases an­ti­bod­ies and chem­i­cals, called his­tamines, into the blood­stream. Cre­at­ing red­ness, swelling itch­ing, mu­cus and other com­mon symp­toms of al­lergy. Our im­mune sys­tem is ac­tive from head to toe so al­ler­gies can cause many more symp­toms, from tummy-up­sets to joint pain, lost sleep, im­paired men­tal fo­cus, mem­ory, bal­ance, con­cen­tra­tion and mood. Par­tic­u­larly com­mon with food al­ler­gies are fa­tigue and gas­tro-in­testi­nal is­sues like tummy cramps and wind, con­sti­pa­tion, di­ar­rhea and bloat­ing.

Re­ac­tions are in­di­vid­ual, vary­ing from mild and man­age­able to se­vere, even life threat­en­ing. Whether in­con­ve­nient or in­ca­pac­i­tat­ing, food al­ler­gies and in­tol­er­ance re­quire man­age­ment and many al­ler­gic reac tions can be man­aged nat­u­rally.


Although many peo­ple have a food in­tol­er­ance, which is un­pleas­ant enough, food al­ler­gies are less com­mon. US re­search puts the rate at one per cent of the pop­u­la­tion.

In a true food al­lergy, the im­mune sys­tem pro­duces an­ti­bod­ies and his­tamine in re­sponse to the spe­cific food. Rather than fo­cus on true food al­ler­gies, caus­ing ana­phy­laxis or toxic shock, I’ll con­cen­trate on ev­ery­day food sen­si­tiv­ity, in­tol­er­ance or al­ler­gies. There are two cat­e­gories of food al­ler­gies:

A fixed al­lergy af­ter con­sum­ing a par­tic­u­lar food, eg shell­fish or straw­ber­ries, you have a pre­dictable reac tion, usu­ally within 24 hours.

Non-fixed al­lergy comes in two types, ad­dic­tive al­lergy, crav­ing to pre­vent ad­dic­tive with­drawal for a food or sub­stance like to­bacco, al­co­hol, wheat, su­gar or caf­feine.

Then there is cyclic or masked al­lergy, de­vel­oped by repet­i­tive eat­ing of the same sub­stance and symp­toms of al­lergy may not ap­pear for three to five days. It be­comes a masked al­lergy, as symp­toms are on­go­ing, so they are as­sumed as “nor­mal” or not food re­lated. Avoid­ance for four to six months can see symp­toms dis­ap­pear, un­til it’s con­sumed again. The good news is that a sen­si­tiv­ity or al­ler­gic re­sponse may be over­come en­tirely by this break and the body may later ac­cept a grad­ual re-in­tro­duc tion with­out re­sponse.


Week one to three, eat only Elim­i­na­tion Diet foods (see panel). Iden­tif y food sen­si­tiv­ity with this sim­ple elim­i­na­tion diet. For one week, di­ary ev­ery­thing you con­sume and any reac tions es­pe­cially to foods on the com­mon food al­ler­gen list (see panel). Then for three weeks dis­con­tinue all foods on the list and foods you reac ted to. Eat only Elim­i­na­tion Diet foods (see panel).

Week four, bring food and drinks back into your diet, one food daily. If no reac tion, add the next from your list of re­moved food. Start with fresh fruit, veg­eta­bles, bot­tled juices then pro­cessed foods, re­fined car­bo­hy­drates in­clud­ing cakes, bis­cuits, ice cream then al­co­hol. Keep a di­ary, record any reac tions.


You may no­tice a re­ac­tion when a food is rein­tro­duced, symp­toms may be dra­matic.

Help clear the al­lergy by drink­ing one litre of wa­ter with an added tea­spoon of bak­ing soda and elim­i­nate that sub­stance from your diet for at least six months.


The good news is that not all food al­ler­gies and sen­si­tiv­i­ties are life-long. Once you've eliminated a trou­ble­some food from your diet for a few months, tr y re-in­tro­duc­ing it in small amounts. Of­ten the re­ac­tion has dis­ap­peared and you can re­turn to eat­ing what­ever you want with­out symp­toms. This may take a few months, or up to a few years.

Although when peo­ple change their diet and ex­pe­ri­ence im­proved health I find they are re­luc­tant to go back!

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