This is one of my favorite topics! Why, you ask, well because I have so much personal experience dealing with food sensitivities myself and helping my clients with them. Food sensitivities are a tricky subject because we are not dealing with an obvious poison like cigarettes or alcohol, we are talking about food! Something that we need to sustain us, give us energy and is integrated into nearly aspect of our culture! All that being said, it’s no secret that there are some foods that are just not good for us, Taco Bell (cough, cough). What about the foods that are seemingly harmless, like the bread on your sandwich or the milk in your coffee?? I’m breaking down how these lesser obvious food sensitivities affect your hormonal health. The most common food sensitivities are: sugar, diary, and gluten. I call them the dirty three amigos, let’s watch as they wreak havoc on our systems.
food sensitivities irritate digestion
Most dairy products in the US are from cows, which means they contain the protein A1 casein. It is this protein that 80% of the population doesn’t have the enzyme to break down. Whenever you eat this and can’t break down the protein, it irritates your digestive system, primarily your large intestine. In your large intestine are microvilli, which look like a shag carpet, they are in charge of absorbing the micro nutrients that have been broken down by your stomach acid. When you eat something you are sensitive to, it can damage or temporarily paralyze the microvilli, causing malabsorption because they can’t do their job.
It may be worse in the case of gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat products. It not only irritates the large intestine but it can also unzip the tight junctions, that make up the intestinal wall, letting food particles escape into your bloodstream and grabbing the attention of your immune system, which leads me to my next point...
Food sensitivities irritate your immune system
Say you are someone who is intolerant to gluten and yet you don’t know it, so you eat wheat with nearly every meal. Whenever you eat gluten it irritates your digestive system, as I mentioned before but it also unzips the lining of you intestinal wall, causing food particles like amino acids to escape into the bloodstream. Your blood cells notice these particles that don’t belong and send alarms to your defensive team that there may be an invasive bacteria in our midst. This trips up your internal alarm system so to speak. It’s just as annoying as when you walk into your house and you hear your alarm system going off for no good reason because you are no threat to yourself! Your immune system doesn’t see this difference, so it will go into defensive mode. Normally this subsides on its own naturally, but sometimes when your immune system is always ON it can start making glitches, like accidentally attacking your own organ and glands cells, otherwise known as an autoimmune condition. To be clear, I am NOT saying gluten causes autoimmune disease, it’s a lot more complicated than that! However food sensitivities can certainly add fire to flames, and cause a flare up. Which leads me to my last point…
Food sensitivities are a huge stressor
So you ate a cream cheese cake with a glass of milk and now you aren’t feeling so good, you feel fatigued, bloated and may even have a headache coming on. That’s because the diary in the cream cheese and the wheat in the cake have irritated your digestion, irritated your immune system and now your stress response is kicking in to help put out the fire. When you immune system feels under threat, your adrenal glands will kick into producing stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, this then triggers your liver to release sugar from its glycogen stores to give you energy to deal with said threat. These high levels of cortisol and the insulin spike that comes with it are enough to throw your hormones off course. Your body will prioritize cortisol over making estrogen and progesterone and the insulin spike will affect your blood sugar levels also having a negative effect on your hormones.
Experiencing this cascade reaction to food sensitivities day after day, even multiple times per day, will have a more chronic effect on your hormones. You may experience nutrient deficiencies from malabsorption, affecting the proper production of your hormones. You may experience chronic fatigue, as your adrenal glands begin to be exhausted. You may experience thyroid problems or period problems as a result of chronic inflammation eating these foods every day. Look I’m not saying you have to be perfect, I mean COME ON look at that cake! HOWEVER I am asking you to be more conscious about the decisions you make on a daily basis, because those decisions can make a BIG difference in your health.
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