Your intestines are designed to be impermeable (or resistant) to large protein molecules that your body may mistake as “invaders,” leading it to launch an “attack” by producing antibodies, which in turn leads to allergic reactions. The modern diet — especially wheat products — lifestyle, and medications often compromise the permeability and strength of our digestive tract, creating what is known as the “leaky gut” syndrome. When the gut becomes permeable to larger protein molecules, they can get into our bloodstream and trigger an immune response, resulting in symptoms of food allergies.
Here are some strategies to help protect and heal the digestive tract.
Maintain healthy gut flora
- Increase intake of probiotics, eat foods such as yogurt, kefir, natto, kimchi, and raw sauerkraut
- Eat fermentable fibers (starches like sweet potato, yam, yucca, etc.)
- Avoid antibiotics (or get professional advice on what to take during your course to reduce negative effects), birth control pills, and NSAIDs (over the counter anti-inflammatory drugs)
- Use herbs such as slippery elm and marshmallow root, which help coat and heal the intestinal lining and reduce inflammation
- Increase intake of omega-3 fatty acids (supplement at therapeutic dosage), cold water fish, walnuts, and flaxseed to help support the immune system and reduce inflammation (EPA in particular helps reduce inflammation)
- Avoid refined carbohydrates, including refined sugar — which irritates the intestinal lining
- Avoid alcohol — which is an irritant
- Avoid caffeine — which irritates the gut and dehydrates the body
Positive lifestyle changes
- Reduce stress (try a meditation like this one, which is not only free, but really works)
- Practice mindful eating
- Chew well
While this list is certainly not exhaustive, it should give you hope that there is more that can be done naturally to relieve your digestive problems.
In all cases, your symptoms should be assessed individually by a health professional to rule out other possible causes. Remember too that it takes time for these things to develop, and likewise, it takes time for recovery. The old saying that “prevention is always better than the cure” still rings true.