I don’t recall any issues with any food I ate as a child, before I left home. At university I just got very podgy eating too many slices of Cape seed bread, peanut butter and honey at Wednesday lunch time in the residence dining hall (the other food was very ordinary). I soon figured out the easiest, cheapest, most reliable way to trim the waistline was simply to not eat bread for three days.
These days you can read about the insulinogenic (stimulates production of insulin) effects of wheat in books like “Wheat Belly” by Dr William Davis and inflammatory effects of gluten and high carbohydrate diets on gut- and brain health in books like “Grain Brain” by Dr David Perlmutter. But we can all get very confused by the myriad of contradictory information and dietary advice.
The reality is that, over the past few decades, agricultural practices have changed and ingredients in processed foods have changed resulting in many foods that are minerally deficient, may not be digestible and/or may be contaminated with chemicals that harm our gut flora or are otherwise toxic, resulting in adverse health effects. We’re not all affected in the same way. Eating well has become challenging for many people and complicated when sharing a communal meal.
These days, I sometimes have an adverse gut reaction and “brain fog” to a grain-based food, be it a gluten grain or a gluten-free grain. I’m OK on organic wheat bread, but not OK on some other commercial wheat bread products – so it’s not a gluten issue; more likely a glyphosate issue or a folic acid issue; I’m OK on quinoa, but I’m not OK on too much buckwheat; I’m not sure about spelt. I’m better on whole grains than refined flour products. Dairy is not a good food for me, but I eat some parmesan cheese and kefir or biodynamic yoghurt without adverse symptoms.
I haven’t used food reactivity testing to suggest what may be problematic foods for me, as I have been able to make choices that keep my diet quite simple and nourishing; I buy chemical-free, in season, local produce for best mineral and vitamin content; and I typically can associate a symptom with a food that I have eaten.
I have used food reactivity with a family member who is less intuitive about the food-symptom connection, and we subsequently followed a dietary plan that eliminated the reported highly reactive foods – dairy, gluten and eggs - for four weeks, before a phased reintroduction. Dairy is now permanently out of their diet; gluten in wheat (organic sourdough) is occasional only; eggs don’t seem to be a problem, but I use them on a 3 or 4 day rotation. It may be differences in quality of eggs used in testing and a better quality of eggs that we eat, but food group rotation is a good dietary planning strategy for everyone for more nutritional diversity.
Food sensitivity testing is not essential if you have the willingness and discipline and support to adhere to a trial elimination. Either approach may reveal a possible need to adapt to some dietary changes and/or to buy better quality food and do some gut-healing therapy.
What would your preference be for identifying foods that you may be reacting adversely to?
Is your future resilient health worth changing bad diet choices for good?