In today’s article we’re going to talk about digestion and intolerance, food intolerance. What is digestion and what intolerance is all about?
Essentially, digestion is something that’s often overlooked and forgotten about when it comes to lifestyle change and designing your program. When we think of digestion, everybody eats; everybody has to remove waste from their body.
So the digestive process is the part in the middle where we extract nutrients and basically get all our energy and nutrients from. Everything that we’ve talked about up until this point has an effect on how well food goes in, and then how it’s digested through your body.
So the first step in the process is really the choice that you make in terms of what you’re putting into your body in the first place and how’s that going to affect your digestive system.
We’ve already mentioned intolerance in the previous weeks, about the problems that can come with intolerance. Yes, Gluten and dairy, let’s call them triggers. So gluten, dairy, and your trigger foods are going to be the ones that are actually going to make you bloated, have poor digestion, and then mal-absorption of your nutrients.
Now, there are extreme cases where you might develop a disorder or a disease like Celiac disease or something like that from gluten in particular and this can be quite dangerous. But, for people that are intolerant, there’s a big difference between intolerant and allergic.
Intolerant means that you’re not going to die from eating it, but there are certain triggers or certain combinations of food which can actually flare up symptoms like bloating, cramping, and skin breakouts.
All these symptoms that happen in your digestive system is a reflection of what’s going on the inside versus what’s going on the outside. A good way to describe the intolerance that you might have and how your digestion plays out is to do a little timeline.
Timeline To Intolerance
We’ve got the timeline of let’s say 21 days and you start at day zero. From zero to about 7 days would be considered good. Then between 7 days and 14 days you may have minor symptoms like a pimple, bad breather, or bad smelling gas. When these symptoms get more serious, then you will be in the 14 days to 21 days and have passed the trigger level.
This is when you know your intolerance can turn to something a bit more painful and a bit more severe.
What happens is we breakdown our days to what we are eating. If we’re eating gluten, for example, or dairy or something that we’re intolerant to and normally don’t eat but rarely and we’re not getting any symptoms.
Okay, happy days! Yes, we can eat bread and obviously its gluten because it’s one of the major ones. What happens is this person is going along, saying okay, I’ve been eating bread and nothing’s been happening.
Let’s throw in some alcohol. Let’s try some dairy and then there might be a lot of trigger foods, something high in salicylate, amine for example. Amine has to do with the ripening and the composition of some fruits and vegetables when they’re high in salicylate, which requires you to have intolerance and responses.
What happens is you peak over after a period of maybe 7 days, it could be 21 days, could be within the same day. But generally, what you’re doing is you’re layering in intolerance above intolerance, over and over and then eventually you’ll get a spike and then a symptom. This might actually happen down at the 21 day level depending on what you’re eating.
If you were this person you could not safely say that it was the milk that did it, or the bread that did it, or the alcohol, or the sugar, or the salicylate. Because you have obviously no clue what triggered it.
It’s a combination of everything stacking up on top of each other until you get a symptom. I’m eating healthy, but I’m still feeling like crap and my digestion’s terrible, and I’ve got low energy. Your salicylate and amine consumption are pretty neglected and not understood as well and they can affect your digestion, intolerance and how you feel. So, you need to go on an elimination diet where you start cutting out food.
Let’s say you decide to cut out gluten for a whole week. More information on the elimination diet that you can get from the API hospital, I’ll leave a link. There’s a little book you can buy and download that goes into it a lot more and definitely explains how you can actually conduct the elimination diet.
The diet is done in various stages where you cut out a ton of food and have very basic food groups to eat from and then slowly reintroduce new foods. If you got kids with allergies this is the best way to eliminate certain foods. We’re trying to establish a baseline diet where you get no symptoms. Then you slowly reintroduce bread and if you get a symptom then you take it out again. Introduce dairy, maybe you got a symptom and then now you know that it’s one or the other.
Whatever that food might be, you may need some assistance with a nutritionist. We’ve got some nutritionists on our blog that we recommend and work with around Australia for your convenience.
Generally, if you eat something and then half an hour to twenty hours later you start to feel ordinary, you can sort of intuitively know that food is okay, or maybe this isn’t the best food for me because it’s making me feel like crap.
Think back to your food diary, you would notice that pattern because you eat something, get a symptom, look back and then just see what food is was. You can now see how this all ties together.
Keep track and get an idea of what your body is actually doing and how it’s affecting you, then what you can do to change it. You might need to reach out to get a professional to help you, particularly someone who deals in salicylate and amines, and elimination diets. Depending on how intolerant or allergic you might be, you may need to see someone.
However, if you’re just a little bit intolerant like most people, generally, you can recognize your trigger foods and then take steps to minimize your exposure to it. This is going to help your digestion tremendously, because what we need to do is think about detoxing as well. That’s what digestion is all about, detoxing and getting your nutrients.
Everything we’ve talked about now, especially, sleep and stress affect all of these. If you don’t have a good night sleep you can’t actually actively digest, detox, and get your nutrition. What happens is they get cut and don’t function properly and this slows down your metabolism. Then, you can become lethargic and tired. You don’t have much nutrition on board, so therefore you can’t function properly.
Tips for your digestion are to make sure you’re absorbing your food correctly and you’re monitoring your intolerance. Use your food diary and look back and see if you’ve got a trigger and identify if that’s something that you can remove. You want to have plenty of water. You want to always eat slowly and in a relaxed way.
You’ve got to avoid stimulants like tea, coffee, sugar, soft drink, and all that crap food. Alcohol is another one and medical drugs. If you have to take medication, it is going to affect your digestion. Digestion can become stressful, as we talked about stress in the previous week and how it all summates into one big stress picture. If your digestion is under stress your body doesn’t actually have the time to sit down, break down, and digest all your food correctly. Problems with your digestion affect your energy levels. Everything affects each other.
At this stage, you’re probably distinctly going to start to notice some of these things. What we talked about beforehand in terms of how digestion works is what you really need to know to take it to that next level and just use your food diary and your common sense. Start to notice if you eat something that made you feel a bit ordinary, make a note of it.
Remove it from your diet for a couple of days or even a week. If you start to feel better then obviously, reintroduce it. If the symptoms flare up again you can safely say that that’s a problem food. This does take a little bit of trial and error, because you’ve got to try food, take them out, and reintroduce them slowly.
If you’re following the clean eating plan, it’s going to give you a good basis to start with and then it’s not so difficult. You will get to a point where you design your own meal plan, just by feel, and then that’s probably the best way. Look at it as a life time process, because now you’ve got education behind. You know what’s happening rather than just that you’re powerless to fix it.
So, pay attention to your digestion and use your food diary. Notice if you’re getting triggers on certain foods and then look at eliminating them for five to seven days. I’ll leave some more resources and some links that you can look at that will help you with the elimination diet in particular. Where you can get a copy of that and how you can find someone if you need a little bit extra help.