What is inflammation?
Do you ever feel after the holidays or vacations that you feel that you have gained five or ten pounds, feel tired, achy and have caught a cold? Many people go through their lives blindly putting food into their mouths, without feeling any remorse, and are completely unaware that their food choices are creating “inflammation” in their bodies. What exactly is inflammation? Inflammation is essentially a “fire” that needs to be put out in the body. While it is a normal process and designed to be protective against pathogens (like bacteria, viruses and food particles) that enter the bloodstream, the build-up of inflammation over the course of a lifetime we now know is the precursor to the development of a myriad of preventable diseases including arthritis, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
The importance of what you eat
It is estimated that over 70% of our immune system that helps to control inflammation is found in the gastrointestinal tract. While food is certainly important to our well-being, because about 60 tons of food passes through the gastrointestinal tract over the course of a lifetime and the average person eats three to six times daily, the inflammatory system in our gastrointestinal tracts is continually exposed to food proteins that can actually constitute a threat to our health.
Food allergies and sensitivity
Once a food particle enters the bloodstream, this sets off a cascade of events that can lead to what has been termed “food sensitivity.” Many people have heard of food allergies, which usually occur within minutes of eating a particular food. These true food allergies only exist in about 10% of the population and typically manifest as anaphylaxis (where the throat closes up making it virtually impossible to breathe) or hives after eating foods like shellfish, peanuts and milk. Food sensitivities, on the other hand occur in upwards of 90% of the population and differ from food allergies in that they may manifest from three hours to three days after eating a particular food. Food allergies typically are measured by a “skin prick test”, which quite often are very painful and don’t give the full picture of one’s delayed-onset food sensitivities, which are measured by a convenient one time blood draw.
Food sensitivities can manifest in a wide array of symptoms and conditions which include: fatigue, allergies, skin rashes, joint pain, migraine and other headaches, gastrointestinal disorders, autoimmune disorders, autism, ADHD, depression, anxiety and hormonal imbalance.
Food sensitivity testing
Naturopathic physicians (NMD’s) now offer convenient in-office food sensitivity testing, with the standard profile testing 94-150 foods and typically costing about $250. Despite the out of pocket cost, it is imperative that we identify our own individualized profile of inflammatory inducing foods so we can decrease our overall inflammatory body burden, lessen the severity of current diseases and prevent others from beginning in the first place. Not only that, but by starting to avoid foods that are problematic, people notice that they have more energy, they sleep better, their skin clears up and they start to feel better overall. When asked about food sensitivity testing that he offers in his practice, Dr. Matthew Cavaiola, of the Phoenix Anti-Aging Clinic, stated “If there is one specialized lab test that anyone could do to help them live healthier lives, I would say IgG Food Sensitivity Testing, hands-down!”