One man’s food is another man’s poison

A faulty immune system is a serious matter, as your immune system protects you from diseases like cancer, but food sensitivities also can cause inflammation throughout your body.

A faulty immune system is a serious matter, as your immune system protects you from diseases like cancer, but food sensitivities also can cause inflammation throughout your body.

by Dr. Paul Stallone — 

For a quick and healthy dinner, you decide to bake some salmon, steam asparagus and toss a simple green salad. Nothing fancy, but this meal gets the job done with zero guilt; in fact, you feel rather good about serving it.

Three days later you get a migraine. You probably think somehow your morning coffee triggered the migraine, even though you have enjoyed the aromatic brew every morning for the last 15 years. However, you read somewhere that caffeine can cause headaches, and since you cannot think of anything else you consumed that could cause such a bad headache, you blame the coffee.

But when you prepare a cup the next morning as a test and no headache happens, it is back to the drawing board. Although coffee can cause headaches in other people, it is not the trigger for you.

What may generate that migraine or a long list of other symptoms could be the innocent “healthy” foods you eat every day. Foods like blueberries, green beans, black pepper, apricots, turkey or any food for that matter, can all cause numerous symptoms. These symptoms occur because your body has developed a sensitivity to a particular food.

Food sensitivities are unlike food allergies, which can cause severe reactions, including death. Sensitivities to different foods cause different symptoms in different people. Someone else might get migraines from pineapple, while asparagus causes one for you — hence the migraine you had from the dinner you ate three nights ago.

Migraines are not the only symptom caused by food sensitivities. Obesity, skin disorders, aching joints, weight loss and digestive disorders, such as bloating, gas, constipation or diarrhea, can all manifest from chronic exposure to certain foods.

Occasionally eating a food you are intolerant to will not result in much more than discomfort for a while, but if you eat that food every day or multiple times a day, you could be creating an environment for disease to thrive in.

Throughout the years, a hidden food sensitivity can take a significant toll on your immune system. By unknowingly causing constant stress to your immune system, you greatly hinder your body’s capability to fight off invading infections. Bacteria, viruses and fungus are always present in your body, but with a healthy immune system these invaders are held at bay and are unable to cause damage.

Someone who is continually sick has a compromised immune system, and a food intolerance should be considered.

A faulty immune system is a serious matter, as your immune system protects you from diseases like cancer, but food sensitivities also can cause inflammation throughout your body.

Protein fragments formed in your digestive tract can be interpreted as foreign invaders by your body. Your immune system responds by sending out antibodies. This natural immune response can create inflammation in joints, causing stiffness and arthritis.

Inflammation in your lungs or nasal passages can result in respiratory congestion, asthma and/or a chronic cough. Headaches and migraines may generate from inflammation around your brain. More serious (but rare) complications like multiple sclerosis and epilepsy can be caused from inflammation of your nervous system. Inflammation of the skin can produce hives, eczema and psoriasis. Intestinal disease from prolonged inflammation can easily cause colitis and other intestinal conditions.

Food sensitivities also can affect mood. Irritability, anxiety, depression and panic attacks have all been correlated to food intolerances. Unfortunately, all of the above symptoms and conditions are not restricted to adults. Children can and do suffer greatly from sensitivities to certain foods. They can develop serious behavioral problems which, if left untreated, can have lifelong consequences.

Instead of thousands of children being labeled and drugged, they should be tested for food sensitivities and follow a tailored diet. Pharmaceuticals are rarely the answer.

After decades of research and studies, many tests are available to pinpoint food sensitivities. However, keeping a food diary can be very tricky and hard to interpret, as symptoms can develop hours to days after eating a certain food.

Skin, blood and hair analyses are much better ways to determine your specific intolerances. There is still debate about which specimen produces more accurate results, so speak with a trained physician who has many years of experience in addressing food sensitivities.

After years of “healthy” eating, many patients get frustrated that they still have weight issues or chronic fatigue. By eliminating problematic foods, certain issues can heal within days.

Sometimes food sensitivities do clear up on their own; you just need to give your body time to repair. So one day — maybe in a year or so — you will be able to enjoy a stalk of asparagus again.


Paul Stallone, N.M.D., founded the Arizona Integrative Medical Center located in Scottsdale, Ariz. He combines natural, alternative and conventional treatments to best fit each patient’s needs. or 480-214-3922.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 32, Number 3, June/July 2013.

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